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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2160

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (11.11 p.m.) —I thank the three speakers for their contributions in the debate on the Australian Capital Territory Government Service (Consequential Provisions) Bill. I would just like to respond briefly. Senator Hill referred to this matter as a debacle, Senator Bell referred to it as messy and Senator Reid referred to it as chaos.

  I reject Senator Hill's assertion and his linking it with the theme of an ongoing litany of alleged breaches of promise as a consequence of the last election. We do not accept that as a theme. I would accept Senator Bell's observation—I do not take it as a criticism—that it is messy. But, frankly, any process that involves the creation of a new public service and separating that public service from an existing public service is not an easy job. Inevitably, when one has a complex series of negotiations with set deadlines, these sorts of things do become messy—they are never absolutely clean.

  Senator Reid referred to chaos. Likewise, I reject that description of this approach. She referred to the 130 amendments that were moved in the ACT assembly. I think there are 10 plus one—11—that will be moved here. It is a tribute to the consultative process that those amendments and suggestions have been listened to and taken up by the ACT assembly. The exclusion of a number of organisations, legal aid, the fire brigade, Total Care and the ACT TAB is a decision taken by the ACT government. In the context of this legislation, I do not think it is appropriate to override that decision.

  Finally, Senator Reid mentioned the issue of whistleblowing. At present we have a Senate committee looking at that. It is not appropriate to incorporate in legislation suggestions when we are awaiting the findings of the whistleblowing committee. There are nine government amendments that I will be moving, and I can indicate to the chamber that the suggestion of the opposition, which it will move as an amendment, allowing two years rather than 12 months as the transition period for public servants will be accepted by the government.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time.