Public Service Business Agency and Other Legislation 2016 Speech

Posted On: 31 Aug 2016

I rise to add my contribution to the Public Safety Business Agency and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016. This bill was introduced on 24 May 2016 by the Hon. Bill Byrne, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services. It was subsequently referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for its deliberations and examination with a requirement to report back to the parliament on 2 August 2016. As a member of this hardworking committee and secretariat, I wish to acknowledge the other committee members and our staff who so ably assist us throughout the numerous committees that this committee undertakes.

The bill primarily aims to amend the Public Safety Business Agency Act 2014 to fully implement the government endorsed recommendations of the Public Service Commission’s 2015 review of the PSBA. While many of the changes required to implement these recommendations could be done administratively, there are still legislative amendments included in this bill as follows: to amend the functions of the PSBA; to establish the PSBA board of management; to change the role of PSBA chief executive officer to PSBA chief operating officer; to finalise the machinery of government changes that will allow blue card services to transition to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General; and to allow for the comprehensive integration of the State Government Protective Security Service into the Queensland Police Service.

Legislative reform is required to facilitate machinery of government changes in order to implement recommendations from the PSBA review. The original PSBA Bill, established in May 2014, was borne as a result of the 2013 review into police and community safety headed by former Australian federal police commissioner Mick Keelty. The Keelty report Sustaining the unsustainable made 127 recommendations which saw the merger of Queensland Fire and Rescue Services with Emergency Management Queensland as well as a stand-alone office for emergency management named IGEM and a raft of corporate and business services. The PSBA is responsible for holding all infrastructure, fleet and information and communication technology assets, and manage human resourcing, financial management, legal, policy, media and strategic planning functions for the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and the Inspector-General Emergency Management. The PSBA Act also allows for the agency to perform additional functions such as operation and management of declared public safety agencies and currently administers the State Government Protective Security Service, all Queensland government air services and blue card services.

During the committee’s scrutiny of this bill, identified stakeholders and the general public were invited to make written submissions to be received by the committee secretariat by 24 June this year. Only two submissions in total were received by this date and they were from the Queensland Police Commissioned Officers’ Union of Employees and from the United Firefighters Union of Queensland. Oral briefings were provided by the QPS and QFES on 15 June.
The committee reviewed the policy outcomes forecast to be achieved by this legislation. We also considered the bill’s regard to the rights and liberties of individuals and to the institution of parliament in accordance with section 4 of the Legislative Standards Act 1991. Taking into account these considerations, the committee agreed that the bill be passed, hence the recommendation in report No. 33 of the 55th Parliament of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee dated August 2016.

The minister stated that the reason for this bill is to undo the inefficiencies created by the current PSBA model and return control of relevant resources and processes to the Police Commissioner and the fire and emergency services commissioner. I make note of comments in the committee report on page 3 that there have been a number of reviews and legislative initiatives in the public safety portfolio in recent years. I also make note of findings by the Public Service Commission which was tasked in 2015 by the Palaszczuk government to undertake this latest review, but it is the timing of this review that raises questions.

Reviews, in general, are regarded as an important part of governance—a means of tracking the progress of actions and overall effectiveness of the legislation. Many a piece of new legislation or amendments to existing bills specify a reporting time as a necessary provision to ensure the legislation is working in the manner it was intended and delivering on its policy objectives. One has to wonder why the rush to change this legislation. Only a year after its introduction Labor commissioned a review, but it started about 70 or 80 reviews. They did not have any policy, so in order to keep themselves busy they set about reviewing and undoing almost everything the LNP government implemented. It was obvious the PSBA Bill would suffer the same fate when the former minister for police, the honourable member for Bundamba, said that she would ask the new Queensland Public Service commissioner to review the organisation which she described as a ‘child of Campbell Newman’.

In 2015 the Public Service Commission was directed by this government to conduct the PSBA review to review the scope, function and structure of the PSBA. This review was undertaken over six months and included employee workshops and engaging with unions and employee associations. On 17 February this year the PSBA review report was tabled. It found that the PSBA had achieved some successes and that the model does create many potential opportunities. However, a number of concerns were identified by stakeholders with regard to the scope, purpose and function of the PSBA. One of the provisions in this bill is the establishment of the PSBA board of management. An interim board was formed and held its first meeting on 16 May.

Page 7 of the committee’s report states there was extensive engagement and consultation with employees within the Public Service and that there is an intention to continue this during the implementation process. I would hope that there would be ongoing dialogue and consultation as to the effectiveness of these new amendments which will redefine the structure and purposes of the PSBA. Consultation is to be commended. It is just a pity that Labor never extends it to the private sector workers or our state’s farmers. It is a pity that it was not extended to the racing industry when all three codes were held to ransom over a live-baiting disgrace in the greyhound industry. They want their codes to be separated. They want to be heard, not ignored.

The 2015 PSBA review made eight recommendations. Amongst them was the transferral of a number of functions and services back to respective agencies. Meanwhile the role of the PSBA would be to maintain responsibility for asset management and maintenance, and perform a strategic air fleet management function. As has been indicated by the shadow minister, the LNP do not agree with recommendation No. 8, which would see the transfer of blue card services to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General as they undo a recommendation of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry 2013. In fact, chapter 12.17 of the Carmody report was not brought to light during the deliberations on this bill. This particular recommendation is that the blue card services stay within the Queensland Police Service. If honourable members wish to look up pages 444 to 446 of this report, they will see Mr Carmody there outlines his reasoning.
I was, however, pleased to see that there was an undertaking that workers’ entitlements would not be lost when they transfer back to agencies. The QPS made the comment that in general there is a far more positive feeling about this move than negative. They continue, ‘There will always be the odd individual who is disgruntled about change and the circumstances.’ I think it is fair to say that, generally speaking, people do not actively seek change. In fact, many resist it for the status quo, preferring the known to the unknown. This is especially true for changes that affect people financially, socially and morally. As politicians, and therefore law-makers, we have an obligation to the people of Queensland as we consider new legislation or amendments to that which already exists for the impact they will have upon them.

 

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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