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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2510


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(5.00) —I move:

That the Bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows-

PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM BILL 1984

On 28 September 1983 the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters announced that the Government intended to reform the Australian Public Service along the lines of the proposals it had presented to the Australian people prior to the March election and set down in the Platform Document ''Labor and Quality of Government''.

Since that time the Government has been involved in a process of extensive policy development, consultation and discussion in order to produce this significant and far-reaching legislation.

In reaching its decisions the Government has drawn substantially on the findings and recommendations of the 1976 Coombs Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, the 1982 Reid Review of Commonwealth Administration and the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts in 1982, then chaired by the Honourable Member for Bradfield, on the selection and development of senior managers.

Unfortunately little had been done to implement these reports. Many of the deficiencies that were identified were not remedied and as a consequence the problems have worsened. Morale and quality of administration have suffered and the delivery of programs has been affected.

Throughout the western democratic world many countries have addressed this problem and are concerned to reform their administration:

to achieve better value for all Government expenditure, and

to ensure that the administration is responsive to democratic direction and to the changing requirements of the community it serves.

Although Australian political processes have expanded and changed, administrative and budgetary processes, the essence of efficient and effective government, have not. It is no coincidence that most of the Western democratic nations are now engaged, not just in developing policy to cope with the world- wide recession but also in efforts to modernise and improve their administrations and to apply modern techniques to their program and personnel management. All OECD countries are confronting a situation in which the need for a very disciplined approach to the tasks of government has greatly increased. All acknowledge that this greater discipline needs to be applied both in respect of the total size of the public sector and, just as importantly, to the efficiency in, and delivery of, public sector programs. All have come to the conclusions, that quality of administration is as much a public policy issue as are the programs being administered.

Clearly therefore, reform of our administration is not a case of change for change's sake. The proposals can reasonably be categorised as the pursuit of the objectives of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. They involve changes at both Ministerial and Departmental level in decision-making processes and resources management.

The Government's intentions in this area were announced some eight months ago. Since that time, as part of our desire to ensure that all those affected had the opportunity to consider our proposals and consult with the Government the following actions have taken place.

The Government's intentions were announced in the discussion paper, ''Reforming the Australian Public Service''.

The proposals were elaborated and discussed at meetings sponsored by the Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration in Canberra and Melbourne, at the ANU Conference on 'New Developments in Public Sector Management' and various Public Service Board meetings and training courses.

Extensive consultations have taken place between the Government, the ACTU and its affiliated public sector unions and the Second Division Officers' Association.

I am pleased to be able to say that the response to our proposals has been overwhelmingly favourable. The essential message of the comments that have been made is that the reforms are sensible, balanced and long overdue.

Of course, not all of those who have commented on the Government's policy paper have agreed with every word of it-that could not be expected with such comprehensive reforms-and, as a result of the consultations, the Government has made a number of changes to the decisions it announced in December. Indeed, following discussions after the Bills were introduced, the Government had itself agreed to a number of further minor changes, including amendments moved in another place by the Opposition.

As a result, after many months of work we have been able to introduce the Public Service Reform Bill, and the associated Bills providing for the creation of a new and independent Merit Protection and Review Agency for Australian Government employees and new employment arrangements for the staff of Ministers and other Senators and Members. These represent the most comprehensive and thorough going legislative review of the Australian Public Service at least since the passage of the present Public Service Act in 1922 and will ultimately result in the development of a modern, efficient, responsive and accountable Australian Public Service.

In developing its proposals the Government has had a number of general objectives:

First, there is the need for Ministers to supervise more closely the management of their departments and for departments to be more responsive and accountable to their Ministers.

Second, new arrangements need to be made for senior management in the Public Service to ensure a fully productive relationship between it and Governments, and to enable senior managers in the Service to realise their full potential.

Third, processes of resource allocation need to be improved by a closer involvement of Ministers and a greater co-ordination of financial and staffing resource decisions, coupled with better opportunities for the review of programs and their administration.

Fourth, there is a need for more explicit legislative support for more enlightened personnel policies and practices especially equal employment opportunity and industrial democracy, and for more appropriate arrangements to be made for the independent handling of staff grievances and appeals. These will form the basis of a more equitable administration.

The Bills now before the Senate have been developed to meet these objectives and to establish a legislative framework for the continuing reform of the Australian Public Service.

The Senate will recall that in 1982 Parliament passed the Public Service Acts Amendment Act. The main provisions of this Act related to the abolition of the so called Divisional structure in the Public Service and the institution of a system of promotion based solely on merit. Because of the Government's intention to further amend the Public Service Act and other Commonwealth employment legislation, and for other reasons, only parts of this Act have been proclaimed.

The Public Service Reform Bill does not affect substantively the 1982 Act, although it is necessary to amend some of its provisions to accommodate the changes that are now proposed. The need to amend these provisions and the need to ensure flexibility in implementing the reforms accounts, in large measure, for the complexity of the Public Service Reform Bill.

To assist the Senate a background paper summarising the Government's reform policies has been made available to all Senators.

I turn now to the major provisions of the Bills.

Secretaries of Departments

The Public Service Act will be amended to clarify the traditional understanding of the relationship between Ministers and Secretaries of departments in relation to their responsibilities for the administration of departments. Except where specific powers are vested in a Secretary by statute, legislation will now make it clear that a Secretary's responsibility for the general working of a department is subject to the Minister's powers under the Constitution.

Under current arrangements, Secretaries of departments (currently designated in the Public Service Act as 'Permanent Heads') are appointed under provisions introduced by the Fraser Government in 1976. These provisions create two classes of officers at this level according to whether the name of the appointee is included on a list of candidates prepared for the Prime Minister by officials. The provisions are gratuitous and they place an inappropriate power in the hands of the public servants involved.

The Public Service Reform Bill provides therefore that the Governor-General should appoint, transfer and unattach Secretaries of departments in accordance with a recommendation of the Prime Minister, after the Prime Minister has obtained a report from the Chairman of the Public Service Board. The Bill now before the Senate includes an amendment moved by the Opposition in another place requiring the Chairman of the Public Service Board to consult with the relevant Minister before a report is made to the Prime Minister. The legislation is similar in intent to that prevailing from 1922 to 1976, but stronger, to the extent that it requires, rather than merely allows for, a report from the Chairman of the Public Service Board.

An option will also be provided for Secretaries of departments to be appointed for fixed periods if that should suit the convenience of an appointee and the Government.

The Government intends to place a legislative obligation on the Public Service Board to attempt to secure the redeployment of unattached Secretaries of departments, with the Board being able to determine that the officer should continue to be treated as a Secretary for the purpose of pay, allowances and associated conditions of service. If it becomes apparent that suitable redeployment is not likely the Board will be required to place the officer at the most senior level in the Senior Executive Service. In these circumstances officers will be able to retain superannuation entitlements at the Secretary of department salary rate as that is updated from time to time.

Provisions will also be made to allow Secretaries of departments to be retired with their consent, from the Service, with appropriate benefits being determined by the Public Service Board in each case.

After a Secretary of a department has been in a position for five years the Chairman of the Public Service Board will raise with the officer and the Minister the possibility of another placement and report to the Prime Minister as appropriate.

To facilitate the policy of rotation of Secretaries of departments the Government will continue the practice of maintaining the salary and status of a Secretary when they are moved to another position that may have a lower salary determined for it by the Remuneration Tribunal.

The Senior Executive Service

The Reform Bill will reshape the existing Second Division of the Public Service into a more unified and cohesive group to be called the Senior Executive Service (SES), in which arrangements for staff selection, development, mobility, promotion and tenure will be designed specifically to meet the requirements at senior levels.

The Australian Public Service is unusual in the extent to which it relies on its officers making their own careers, both in seeking advancement and in obtaining the training and development to equip them for senior management positions. While preserving the strengths of the existing systems, the Government wants to see a greater degree of management leadership in the development and placement of senior staff. It also wants the Service at senior levels to be more open, mobile and competitive.

The following provisions are accordingly provided in the Reform Bill:

All SES vacancies will be open for application from persons outside the Public Service, as well as from serving officials.

An option will be available for appointments to be for a fixed period.

All promotions into and within the SES will be made by the Public Service Board on the recommendation of a Secretary of a department. The Board will only be empowered not to accept a recommendation of a Secretary of a department in limited circumstances-where it believes, in the interests of the Service, that an officer should be transferred into the position, where the person recommended is unsuitable, where proper procedures have not been followed or where a wider search is desirable. There will be no appeals against promotions in the SES.

The Public Service Board will be empowered to transfer an officer from one department to another. In exercising this power the Board will be most thorough and meticulous in its consultations with the officers affected and their departments.

When selecting persons for positions in the SES, greater reliance will be placed on policy advising, general management and professional skills. Less emphasis will be given to experience relevant to specific duties. In other words , a persons's ability to perform at a level will be an important recognised element in selection.

New provisions will be included in the Public Service Act for the handling of surplus and unsatisfactory staff in the SES in place of the existing legislative provisions in the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Act. As it will be normal management practice for staff who are not performing satisfactorily or who become surplus to be moved to another job as part of a staff mobility program, the new legislation will only be needed from the point where it becomes clear that they cannot be satisfactorily redeployed at their existing level. A right of appeal will only be provided against a decision to reduce an officer to a lower level or to retire an officer from the Service.

These measures enhance the ability of Secretaries of departments and the Public Service Board to see that senior staff are deployed in the best possible way. The Board, in particular, will take a much more prominent and active role to see that the interests of the Service generally are fully taken into account in the disposition of senior staff. For this purpose it will establish a Senior Executive Staffing Unit to assist the Board and Secretaries of departments in the selection, development and placement of senior staff. A committee of Secretaries of departments will also be set up to advise the Board on the whole range of senior staffing matters.

The Board will be represented in all staff selections in the SES, and will develop programs of staff development and mobility, co-ordinate the introduction of staff appraisal and establish a Temporary Assignment Pool of staff who can be used for short term tasks or to meet urgent needs.

The Government believes that these new arrangements provide the best possible balance between the requirements of Service-wide management of senior staff, the needs of individual departments and the interests of the staff themselves. Not surprisingly, the staff organisations have expressed misgivings about the abolition of appeals against promotions in the SES. The Government understands their concern but does not share it. Already the number of successful appeals against provisional promotions in the Second Division is extremely small-five over the last five years. The new arrangements will be more objective and thoroughgoing and final decisions will be made by the Board, the authority which now decides appeals against provisional promotions.

There will be adequate protection of the rights and interests of staff through arrangements for staff appraisal, the direct participation of the Board in promotion decisions, the establishment in the Board's Office of a Senior Executive Advisor to counsel staff, and the right of staff to approach a new authority-a Merit Protection and Review Agency where discrimination or other improper practice is alleged.

The Government is conscious that some staff may be concerned about the effect on their career expectations of the decision to advertise all positions as open to competition from outside the Service. Given the ability and professionalism of the staff of the Service however any outsiders will need to be very good to win a position. I am sure that public servants do not fear or resent fair competition with outsiders, and the Government sees its decision to allow outside applications for all senior positions as a tribute to the open mindedness and robustness of the career service.

Staff for Ministers and other Members of Parliament

The Government believes that Ministers should have assistance in key projects from able people who share the Government's values and objectives or which can bring to Government relevant specialised or technically advanced skills.

Governments have in the past engaged consultants to assist Ministers either by the use of simple contract arrangements or by the use of the temporary employment provisions of the Public Service Act. To that extent the Government's intentions are not new. There are, however, legal concerns about contract arrangements of this kind, while the use of the Public Service Act could be seen as an inappropriate vehicle for the appointment of consultants.

To overcome these problems, the Members of Parliament (Staff) Bill makes provisions for Ministers to be able to engage a limited number of consultants for work on nominated projects or reviews directly for a Minister, or on duties agreed between the Minister and the Secretary of the department and under the Secretary's supervision and direction.

The Prime Minister will approve all such engagements on a recommendation from a Minister that in each case will be accompanied by a report from a merit panel whose composition has been approved by the Prime Minister, and which would include a nominee of the Secretary of the department where the consultant is to work under the Secretary's supervision and direction.

Engagements will be for periods up to three years, but will be able to be terminated by Ministers at any time. The number of Ministerial Consultants at any one time will be small; it is not possible to be more precise than that. Some will be engaged for only short periods or part-time. In some cases the consultancy may be taken up by a firm. But the Government wants it to be quite clear that the legislation will not be used for contracting out significant areas of work now performed by the Public Service, nor will consultants working in departments exercise delegated powers.

The Government has accepted an Opposition amendment moved in another place that will require Governments to table each year a statement setting out the names of all consultants during that year, the period of their engagements and the tasks performed.

By providing for the possibility of consultants working in departments the Government's proposal avoids the potential for divisiveness inherent in any substantial expansion in the numbers of advisers working in Ministers' offices. The scope it provides for combining the talents of career officials with the special skills of other competent individuals and organisations will strengthen the policy development capacity of Governments. I might add that the provisions are consistent with some of the recommendations in the recent Liberal Party Committee of Review (the so-called Valder Report), but they are not as radical or potentially disruptive as other proposals in that report.

Provisions of the Members of Parliament (Staff) Bill will also empower Ministers and other Senators or Members to engage their own personal staff. As Honourable Senators will be aware these staff are now engaged under the temporary employment provisions of the Public Service Act and decisions about the engagement of these staff must formally be taken by officials in the Department of the Special Minister of State. This is quite unsatisfactory. The terms and conditions of employment for these staff will henceforth be determined by the Prime Minister, and before the legislation comes into effect the Government will, after proper consultations, decide upon more satisfactory conditions of employment for these staff. The numbers and levels of these staff will continue to be decided by the Government on the recommendation of the Remuneration Tribunal. These staff will have the same access to arbitration as other Commonwealth employees.

Officers of the Public Service who are engaged by Ministers or other Senators or Members will have access to a special tripartite committee to determine the level at which they may be re-integrated into the Service upon the completion of their engagements.

The Public Service Reform Bill provides for the amendment of the Governor- General Act so that provisions similar to those for the personal staff of Ministers and Senators and Members can be provided to regulate the employment of the staff of the Governor-General.

The Integration of Financial and Staffing Decisions

The staff ceilings systems of previous Governments were highly centralised. Not all Ministers or departments were necessarily or usually involved in the final negotiation or determination of ceiling limits. As a result decisions were often arbitrary and frequently not properly co-ordinated with financial decisions taken in the course of the preparation of the Budget.

The Government has already taken steps to see that Ministers and departments are more fully involved in the determination of staff numbers. The Government now wishes to go further to integrate staffing and other resource negotiations in the normal estimates and new policy proposals processes of the budget and, at the same time, to provide departments with greater flexibility in the use of their staff resources.

The Public Service Reform Bill contains provisions enabling Secretaries of departments to create, abolish and classify positions and determine their duties . These decisions were previously taken by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Public Service Board, after the Board had received a report from the Secretary of the department. Under the new provisions the Board will be responsible for the design of occupational groups and the determination of related pay rates. It will prepare classification standards and guidelines, and will have a power to audit and, if necessary, require departments to reclassify positions.

The Department of Finance will advise the Government on and administer human resource budgets, which will provide a framework for managing staff numbers and the expenditure on staffing.

The provisions are a significant devolution of power from the Public Service Board to departments. They require an organisational separation of controls over the numbers and levels of positions from other aspects of personnel management still within the responsibility of the Board. This decision has not been lightly taken and obviously it is not without its costs. The Government believes however that these are outweighed by the compensating benefits of flexibility for departmental management and the closer integration of financial and staffing decisions. From the Board's point of view it should facilitate the development of more satisfactory relations with departments where in the past these have been adversely affected by the tension that can result from disputes over numbers and levels of positions and will enable the Board to concentrate better on the many personnel management reforms provided in these Bills.

Personnel Policies and Practices

The legislative backing to modern personnel policies and practices in the Public Service is not adequate. It is not explicit and it does not provide sufficient guidance and support to those who have to develop and administer the policies or those who are affected by them. It does not, for example, give sufficient recognition to the principles of equal employment opportunity and merit in selection, recruitment or career advancement, or the importance of precluding unjustified discrimination, or to the rights of staff to participate in decisions affecting them at work.

Indeed, in some respects, the personnel policies and practices developed by departments and the Public Service Board in the last ten of fifteen years have outgrown the legislative provisions in the Public Service Act.

The Government now wishes to provide a more up to date framework for the further development of these policies and practices.

Firstly, a clear statement of merit principles will be included in the Public Service Act as a basis for developing and administering personnel policies. While the Act already makes it clear that entry to the Public Service is to be by open competition and that promotion is to be on the basis of relative efficiency, these criteria will now be made more explicit and comprehensive.

Second, a positive obligation will be placed upon departments to develop and implement equal employment opportunity programs for disadvantaged groups. The Public Service Board will promulgate guidelines for the development of these programs and will monitor them. To facilitate the application of the Government' s equal employment opportunity policies outside the Public Service Act area, it is intended that these provisions will be capable of being applied by regulation to authorities not staffed under that Act. The Government is firmly committed to policies of equal employment opportunity that will complement and strengthen the merit principles by removing those barriers which disadvantage some groups in competition for jobs, and, where necessary, include special measures to bring about the greater employment of groups under-represented in the Public Service.

Third, and associated with its equal employment opportunity policies, the Public Service Reform Bill contains provisions for the introduction of permanent part-time work, with superannuation, in the Public Service. The Government is acutely aware of union sensitivity on the question of permanent part-time work. Therefore, staff organisations will be consulted fully, and provisions are included in the Bill that would prevent the compulsory transfer of an officer from a full-time to a part-time position with consequent reductions in pay and conditions, or vice versa. The Government does not see these legislative provisions leading to the wholesale conversion of positions from full-time to part-time. Nor can it be seen in other areas of employment as a precedent for reductions in hours and pay and conditions of employment.

Permanent part-time work will not be a right, but it will provide more satisfactory and flexible employment arrangements where the interests of staff and departments can be matched.

Fourth, as with equal employment opportunity, the legislation will require departments to develop, maintain and implement industrial democracy action plans to be monitored by the Public Service Board. These provisions will also be capable of being applied, by regulation to statutory authorities not covered by the Public Service Act, but in these cases the monitoring role of the Public Service Board will be confined to those authorities where it is required by legislation to approve an authority's determination of terms and conditions of employment.

Arrangements for other statutory authorities are yet to be determined. The Public Service Board and departments will, of course, be required to consult with staff organisations in the development and application of these plans. The plans are important because a more participative approach to management will not only improve decision making, but will enrich the working lives of the men and women in government employment.

Fifth, consistent with its policies on industrial democracy, the Public Service Reform Bill provides for joint selection committees, that is committees including a staff organisation representative, for use in choosing people for promotion. Appropriately this concept was developed through the Joint Council some years ago. Unfortunately it was not implemented at that time. The use of these committees, which will be dependent on the agreement of the relevant staff organisation, will speed up the filling of vacant positions and provide an opportunity for participation in an area of very significant interest to staff.

Finally, so that the implementation of the Government's personnel policies can be monitored, the Public Service Board will be empowered to require reports on personnel policies and practices from departments and authorities covered by the Public Service Act, and to take follow up action in each case.

Merit Protection and Review Agency

The Merit Protection (Australian Government Employees) Bill provides for the establishment of a Merit Protection and Review Agency for Australian Government employees.

The Bill will not provide further avenues of appeal and grievance for staff, but it will allow for appeals and grievances to be considered independent of departmental management and the Public Service Board. The current powers of the statutory tribunals under the Public Service Act and the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Act will be retained but the Merit Protection and Review Agency will take over responsibility for the operation of these tribunals . The Agency will have an additional determinative power in relation to discipline appeal matters involving dismissals where the final decision is now made by the Public Service Board.

The Agency will also be responsible for review and investigation of personnel decisions and actions which are the subject of grievances. The Agency will be empowered to review certain specified decisions where appeals may now be made against departmental decisions to the Public Service Board, for example in relation to the deferral of increments or decisions not to grant certain types of leave.

In relation to general grievance matters the legislation provides a framework for the Agency to investigate grievances lodged by officers and employees. For Public Service Act staff, the regulations will continue to provide for officers and employees to take up grievance matters initially with the Secretary of the department. Where a grievance is not resolved in this way, it may be referred to the Agency and will be investigated by the Agency's own investigation staff who will also be empowered to counsel and conciliate. Therefore, the Agency will have powers to investigate, recommend a course of action to a Department or to the Public Service Board and in specified circumstances reach conclusions on questions of fact and confirm, vary or set aside a decision.

The legislation provides a framework for the extension of the Agency's jurisdiction to other authorities staffed outside the Public Service Act should it be so decided. This will only be done after full consultation with the authorities concerned and relevant staff organisations.

The Government believes that all statutory authorities not covered by the Public Service Act should adopt modern disciplinary codes. It also believes that , unless more appropriate mechanisms are in place, authorities should be covered by the new Agency for disciplinary appeals. This issue is at present being pursued with authorities and staff organisations.

The Agency will be staffed under the Public Service Act with the Director of the Agency having the powers of a Secretary of a department. The members of the Agency will consist of a full-time Director responsible for the day-to-day running of the Agency and up to four other members, with a maximum of two of these being full-time. In appointing members to the board of the Agency the Government would expect that one member at least would have substantial management experience and also that appropriately skilled people from disadvantaged groups would be considered. One member will be selected after consultations between the Government and the ACTU. The Government will take care to ensure that members of the Agency have a status and reputation appropriate to their duties.

There will be a need for close co-operation between the Agency and the Public Service Board, and also between the Agency and the Human Rights Commission on discrimination matters. Australian Government employees will not be precluded from making application to the Commission in relation to such complaints as it can deal with.

Aspects of Remuneration

The Government is aware that in recent years there has been a considerable erosion in senior Public Service remuneration compared to that in the private sector. Public Service remuneration at these levels has never matched those of the private sector, but the widening gap will only make more difficult the recruitment of talented people from the private sector, even for short periods.

In present circumstances there is little that can be done about this; but so far as legislation is concerned there are two changes proposed.

First, all fixed term appointees as Secretaries of departments and to the Senior Executive Service, ministerial consultants and ministerial and electorate staff who are not already members of the Commonwealth Superannuation scheme will be given an option to join the scheme or to be covered by an endowment superannuation policy providing for benefits on completion or termination.

Second, the Public Service Reform Bill provides for an amendment of the Remuneration Tribunals Act to allow the Tribunal to review the salaries of the various groups within its jurisdiction at different times.

Other Matters

The Public Service Reform Bill contains provisions on a number of other matters not canvassed in the policy information paper issued last December. Some of these are of a more technical nature; others are more substantive.

First, the British subject requirement for appointment to the Public Service is to be removed and replaced with an Australian citizenship requirement with a power being provided for the appointing authorities to waive the requirement where this is desirable. Where waiver occurs other than in individual cases the details will be tabled in Parliament and notified in the Gazette. The legislation of various statutory authorities where citizenship requirements exist will also be amended to bring them into line with the requirement in the Public Service Act or to remove the legislative provision all together in some cases.

Second, an opportunity is being taken to remove doubt about whether offences for personation at examinations cover various tests conducted by the Public Service Board for entry to the Public Service. The penalties for offences are also being updated.

Third, a provision is included in the Public Service Reform Bill for the voluntary unattachment of staff from their positions; the written consent of the officer will be required in each case. This will not only provide a clear head of power for a long-standing and necessary practice but will also simplify some of the existing provisions relating to unattached officers.

Financial Impact Statement

It is difficult to be precise about the costs and savings of the measures included in these Bills. Much will depend upon the manner in which legislation is implemented and the measures that are necessary to give it full effect. The main costs are expected in the following areas.

First, new programs for the placement, development, mobility and appraisal of staff of the Senior Executive Service will require additional resources, particularly in the Public Service Board, including through the creation of a Senior Executive Staffing Unit which will perform the work associated with the Board's important new responsibilities in the senior staffing area and also in departments.

Second, the requirements for departments to prepare and implement equal employment opportunity and industrial democracy plans, which reflect the priority the Government attaches to proper and modern personnel policies and practices in the Public Service, will add to costs in departments and the Public Service Board.

Third, the engagement of ministerial consultants may give rise to some net addition to costs. It should be noted however, that consultants of the kind envisaged by the legislation have been used by governments in the past.

Fourth, the Department of Finance will also require some extra staff for the responsibilities it is to have in relation to numbers of staff. Against this however there will be an equivalent reduction in the numbers of staff in the Public Service Board previously working on staff numbers controls.

Fifth, the creation of the Merit Protection and Review Agency will also involve additional staff and accommodation costs. It should be noted, however, that some of the staff for this Agency, including the Chairman of the various statutory appeal committees, will transfer from the Public Service Board.

There will also be some staff development costs associated with the various changes.

When more detailed and precise estimates of costs are calculated they will be made available to the Parliament in the usual way.

The Government is confident that the costs of the reforms in these Bills will pay significant returns in terms of the more efficient and economic functioning of the Australian Public Service.

In conclusion, may I say that the Australian people have a right to expect that the public services they support with their taxes and rely upon for the administration of government policies and programs are the best that can be provided.

The staff of the Public Service should be able to expect that their work will be satisfying and provide challenges and opportunities for career advancement within a modern personnel system that adequately protects their rights.

If government is to serve the people efficiently, effectively and equitably then it must ensure that the public sector operates in such a way as to attract the best people to work for it, acknowledge the interests of the community and be prepared to be accountable to the community and its elected representatives.

The public sector has a major and continuing role in the development of our nation and if this is to take place effectively then the Australian Public Service must be a modern and efficient body. Other areas of activity remain to be examined and reformed to ensure the vital role the public sector has to play in the lives of all Australians.

I have much pleasure in introducing these Bills which provide further evidence of the Hawke Government's intentions to take important and landmark decisions that are necessary prerequisites for a better and more successful nation.

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT (STAFF) BILL 1984

In my speech introducing the Public Service Reform Bill I outlined the Government's intentions to provide for the engagement of ministerial consultants and the employment of personal staff by Senators and Members.

This Bill will introduce the necessary legislative provisions to give effect to these arrangements.

I commend this Bill to the Senate.

MERIT PROTECTION (AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES) BILL 1984

In my speech introducing the Public Service Reform Bill I outlined the purpose of this Bill.

The Merit Protection (Australian Government Employees) Bill will introduce the necessary legislative provision to give effect to the Government's policy on this aspect of the reform proposals.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Collard) adjourned.