Government Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Bill 2016

Photo of management files
23 February 2016

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [4.26 p.m.]: I am happy to support the Government Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. Through the bill this Government again demonstrates its commitment to transforming New South Wales for the better. The importance of this reform is highlighted by the context of this legislation. The New South Wales Government employs many more people than any of the largest private employers in Australia. It employs more people than Woolworths, Coles, Telstra, the National Australia Bank, the Commonwealth bank, Australia Post or Qantas. It also employs more people than the Commonwealth Government. It is the biggest employer in the country, spending more than $60 billion on New South Wales public services. It is therefore essential not only to the citizens of New South Wales but also to the national economy that the New South Wales public sector operates as efficiently as it can and that it is the best it can be.

I will make some observations about management and leadership in the New South Wales public sector. Under the guidance of the Premier this Government has provided innovation to the public sector with initiatives such as the Leadership Academy established by the Premier. It recognises that leadership and management are important because we need to modernise the management of our public sector. This bill is another step forward in recognising the importance of leadership in the public sector following on from the 2013 Government Sector Employment Act. The bill recognises that management is an important skill and specialisation in itself. While the context, both technical and physical, in which management might operate can change, the skills of good management and leadership are universal. Management skills can be applied in different business environments and, critically—as this bill recognises—in different government departments. The ability of the upper echelons of the public sector to be mobile within different government agencies under the bill is highly desirable.

The bill will help to break down silos within the New South Wales public sector. It will allow pockets of innovation to spread outside the bed in which they have germinated. Broader thinking will be encouraged as the cross-pollination within public sector management is further promoted and dispersed. Internal competition will promote excellence and flow down through the public sector. Incentive is incredibly important for humans to excel in whatever they do. It is as important to the leadership in the public sector as it is to their subordinates. Opportunity for managers to progress should not be limited to those in the private sector whose management can go from enterprise to enterprise. The dynamic forces of risk and incentive should not be confined to the private sector. The importance of incentive in any career path is that it stops stagnation and atrophy, and promotes innovation, hard work and achievement.

It is important to remember who the beneficiaries of this reform are. Unlike in private enterprises, the beneficiaries of management reform of this kind are not the investors and shareholders but the community as a whole. Better public sector leadership will ultimately trickle down to better service delivery. This Government, through innovations like Service NSW, is committed to the better delivery of government services. In overview, I will make some observations on the content of the bill. The Government sector employment legislation will now apply to the health, police and transport services in order to create a single, sector-wide capability. It will mean that the executive structure is leaner, more responsible and more mobile. Appropriate transition means that the reform will not commence until 1 January 2017 to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.

On 1 January 2017 more than 2,700 executives across the four services will be subject to aligned executive employment arrangements. New executive bands will be aligned across those services. Consistent and transparent remuneration will be created, but with flexibility. The Public Service Commissioner will be able to make rules that apply to senior executives in the aligned services. There will be standardisation of executive contracts across the aligned executive services. There will be staged implementation of the reforms, with fairness introduced through the grandfathering of arrangements for existing police, transport and health executives. In the transport services there will be three kinds of employment established: senior executives, senior managers and non-executives. Adjustments will be made to the general executive employment model to recognise the specific operational requirements of Health, Police and Transport.

These reforms are designed to create a more agile, mobile executive with enhanced career opportunities, able to deliver services the people of New South Wales rightly expect from the public sector. It will mean that the New South Wales government sector will have in place a contemporary employment framework able to attract and retain the best executive talent across Australia and overseas from a highly competitive market. There will be created a simplified executive structure built on common design principles endorsed by the Government. It will enable the implementation of performance management and capability development strategies to ensure that the leadership cohort functions effectively.

Today I have addressed the context of the bill; the importance of management and leadership at any organisation to the organisation as a whole; how broad thinking rather than a narrow focus in management makes for better management; and the importance of incentive as a motivator to any worker, including upper management. I have also provided a short overview of the bill. But the most important thing I have addressed is the beneficiaries of this bill, who are the citizens of New South Wales. The public sector is incredibly important to the lives of people in our State. Measures to improve the leadership of the public sector will filter down to make for better schools, better hospitals, better public transport, better roads and better government services in general.

I wish to make it clear that the bill has no adverse effect on frontline staff or services and will significantly improve the delivery of frontline services. Since coming to office in 2011 the Government has increased police authorised strength from 15,806 in 2011 to 16,665 in August 2015. It has recruited an additional 5,300 nurses and midwives, taking the total nursing and midwifery workforce to more than 49,000 as at June 2015. It has increased the number of teachers from 61,144 in 2011 to 63,274 at the end of June 2015. This legislation is another example of the transformative effect that this Government seeks to have for the benefit of the people of New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.