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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3360

Senator COLLARD (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(1.09) —The Public Service Legislation (Streamlining) Bill 1986 is a machinery Bill which seeks to amend the Public Service Act 1922. I understand that it also seeks to amend five other Acts-the Merit Protection (Australian Government Employees) Act 1984, the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984, the Superannuation Act 1976, the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 and the Commonwealth Employment Service Act 1978. It also seeks to repeal the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Act 1979.

We agree with the general thrust of the legislation, particularly as it picks up some of the provisions that were in the Act when we went out of government in 1983 and were subsequently repealed by the present Government. The Government is now putting them back in the legislation, so we have no quarrels with that. However, the Hawke Labor Government is not putting back into the Act one particular provision that it repealed when it came into power. Because of that, I intend to move an amendment that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to incorporate the principle of `no work as directed no pay'.

We are looking at reducing the cost of the Public Service, which is one of the first things that one wants to do, as well as streamlining and increasing its efficiency. In this respect, I suppose the first thing we must do is decrease the functions of the Public Service. One thing that exercised the minds of honourable senators in debates this morning was the fact that if we are to have big government, if the Government is going to do things that could be better done by other people or other sections of the community, we are going to need a big Public Service. All the streamlining in the world will not solve that problem.

It is interesting to note that, in spite of the public announcements in the Budget that there is going to be a reduction this year of 2,000 in the size of the Public Service, I understand that it has already grown by about 15,000 since the Hawke Labor Government came to power in 1983. In other words, we are looking at a net increase over that period of 13,000. This is hardly the way to improve the efficiency or reduce Government expenditure and, through taxes, costs to the community.

During the years of the Fraser-Anthony Government the size of the Public Service actually declined by an average of 0.12 per cent per year. On top of that, the Government has increased the number of statutory authorities by approximately 60. I also understand that about 4,000 extra public servants will be needed to administer the Australia Card legislation, the fringe benefits tax and the capital gains tax. So, whereas the legislation to streamline the Public Service is, as I indicated, most welcome, it has to be acknowledged that, in spite of the 2,000 reduction that has been announced, there has been a net increase since this Government came to power. In any case, there is likely to be an increase greater than that 2,000 over the next two or three years. So, we are looking down the barrel in terms of increased government expenditure on the Public Service.

The Bill only fiddles at the edges of Public Service reform. There is no essential services provision. There is no attempt to address the massive duplication of Federal and State responsibilities. There is no attempt to carry out deregulation and rationalise the functions of the Public Service. There is no real plan of management to force or allow the middle and upper echelons of the Public Service responsibly to manage the Public Service units under their control. There is no provision to prevent the rip-off that is occurring in the Public Service workers compensation area where it is estimated that there are 10 times the number of successful claims in comparable parts of the private sector. That observation, of course, was the subject of debate on legislation that was dealt with earlier in the day. While welcoming the legislation, we are greatly concerned that it does not go nearly far enough and that the Government has not bitten the bullet and tried, first of all, to downgrade not only the size of the Public Service but also government influence on the lives of the people of Australia.

While sitting here waiting for this debate to come on I was handed some amendments which the Australian Democrats will move at the Committee stage. This is the first time that I have seen them. The other House is not sitting. The shadow Minister responsible for Public Service matters is not in Canberra. Because of that and because of the time limit in getting the legislation passed, we will not be supporting those amendments. I formally move:

Leave out all words after ``that'', insert: ``the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to incorporate the principle of `no work as directed no pay' for those Commonwealth employees who engage in-

(a) the performance of work in a manner different from that in which it is customarily performed, or the adoption of a practice in relation to work, the result of which is a restriction or limitation on, or a delay in, the performance of the work;

(b) a ban, limitation or restriction on the performance of work or on acceptance or offering for work; and

(c) an unauthorised failure or refusal by persons to attend for work or an unauthorised failure or refusal to perform any work at all by persons who attend for work''.