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Public Service Bill passed - a new Act for a new century.

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Media Release

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service



20 October 1999



The Public Service Bill 1999 passed the Senate this morning without th e Opposition’s previous amendment, heralding a new era of public sector administration in Australia.

“I am delighted we have now achieved the successful passage of the Public Service Bill. It delivers a new, modern framework for the public service into the new century,” said Dr Kemp, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

“Compared with the current Act, the Government’s Bill is short, written in plain English and underpinned by values not rules. It represents the biggest overhaul and reform of the Australian Public Service in more than 75 years.”

The Public Service Bill 1999 protects the interests of citizens and provides a fair balance between enhanced accountability and management responsibility.

It places the onus for the management of the Australian Public Service squarely on the shoulders of Secretaries and Agency Heads. They have gained all the powers of employers and access to all the flexibilities available under the Workplace Relations Act. They will exercise similar rights, duties and powers as their counterparts in the private sector.

The Bill brings employment in the APS into line with the arrangements that apply to the rest of the workforce while protecting the special public character of the APS. Complex appeals arrangements have also been simplified.

The new framework requires behaviour of all public servants in carrying out their work that is consistent with the APS values and code of conduct which the Bill incorporates. Red tape has been stripped away, but parliamentary scrutiny and public accountability of the APS has been enhanced.

“The Government could not accept the Opposition’s amendment previously passed by the Senate,” said Dr Kemp. “It would have effectively meant that nobody would be able to be employed in the APS to undertake specific tasks or meet fluctuations in work demands unless regulations were made which subscribe to the unions’ and the Opposition’s prescriptive industrial relations agenda.”

The agreement the Government has reached with the Opposition provides much greater opportunity for temporary employment than the present Act. Temporaries will now be able to be employed under certain conditions for up to 3 years to meet agency needs and can be employed indefinitely to undertake specified tasks.

“This provides the flexibility required for contemporary public management without undermining a career Public Service in which most jobs will be permanent,” said Dr Kemp.

“Six months of detailed and complex negotiations with the Opposition have proved productive. These negotiations, conducted in good faith on both sides, have built on the work started by my predecessor, Minister Reith, a couple of years ago,” said Dr Kemp.

“I would like to acknowledge my appreciation of the approach taken by Senator Faulkner and the Opposition throughout these negotiations.”

“The Government is keen to maintain the momentum of reform within the public service. We will be working to a likely implementation date for the new framework of 5 th December this year.”

“I would like to thank the members of the Australian Public Service, who have been waiting a considerable time for change. Many public servants have been working towards this reform for some time now, and I would like to acknowledge their significant contributions to today’s achievement.”

“I am pleased that we can now move into the new century with a new Public Service Act. This will provide a sound basis for the further building of the APS into an international standard public service.”

Media Contact: Samantha Herron 02 6277 7460 or 0412 639 754

Copies of the legislation, explanatory memoranda and further information available from:



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