The Honourable Anna Bligh
Premier announces public sector reform initiatives
The Honourable Anna Bligh
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Premier announces public sector reform initiativesIn Queensland Parliament today Premier Anna Bligh announced five new major public sector reform initiatives.
Ms Bligh said the initiatives would result in the most wide ranging changes to the Queensland public sector in the past decade.
“As Premier I am determined to ensure that we have the best public sector framework in place to get the best results,” Ms Bligh said
“There is no doubt that we are framing a Budget in a very difficult national and international financial climate.
“To maintain our strong economic position tough decisions need to be made. Delivering frontline services needs to be our priority.
“The reforms I am announcing today are part of that process and will deliver real cost savings that can be allocated in direct public service delivery for Queensland taxpayers.
“They will also help create a more modern, efficient and effective public service.”
The initiatives are:
• Create a new Public Service Commission by amalgamating the Service Delivery and Performance Commission with the Office of the Public Service Commissioner;
• The creation of one amalgamated Civil and Administrative Tribunal – replacing approximately 26 different tribunals across the State;
• A Productivity Dividend which is expected to result in more than $80 million a year being freed up for redeployment to frontline services such as health and education;
• The establishment of an Expenditure Review Committee – including an independent outside expert – to monitor and prioritise spending across departments and agencies and deliver the productivity dividend;
• A review of all government boards and statutory bodies with a view to reducing both number and cost
AMALGAMATION OF SDPC AND PSC
Ms Bligh said both the Office of the Public Service Commissioner and the Service Delivery Performance Commission were aimed at improving the management of Government business and the capacity to deliver it.
“The difference between the two organisations is one of focus rather than objective,” she said.
“By amalgamating the two bodies we believe we can save money and deliver greater efficiencies. Amalgamation will align in one place our performance management expertise with our human resources management knowledge and expertise.
“My Director-General will define the functions and terms of reference for a new Public Service Commission for consideration by Cabinet.
“Both of the current independent Commissioners with the Service Delivery and Performance Commission, John Story and Marian Micalizzi have agreed to continue with the new body.
“They will be joined by senior academics Dr Anne Tiernan and Dr Jackie Huggins and business representatives James Strong and Ann Sherry.
“We expect to have the new Public Service Commission up and running by July 1 this year.”
A NEW CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine said a recent review by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General found that the system of civil and administrative justice in Queensland was inefficient and fragmented reducing the community’s access to justice.
“There are approximately 26 different bodies performing civil and administrative justice functions,” he said.
“Each serve a valuable purpose and provide an avenue for justice to Queenslanders in different specialist areas.
“However, the system is confusing. Our government will establish one single gateway for members of the public.
“We will harness the specialist legal knowledge of each of the various tribunals and amalgamate it into QCAT – the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“Former Justice the Honourable Glen Williams will oversee the creation of the tribunal including the scope of jurisdiction, membership and registry structure, accommodation, information technology and other infrastructure needs.
“He will be assisted by respected lawyers Peter Applegarth and Julie-Anne Schafer.
It is our intention to have the new Tribunal up and running during the second half of 2009.
“As well making our system of justice easier, more accessible and more user friendly we expect to significantly reduce court costs and generate significant savings for taxpayers.”
Treasurer Andrew Fraser said a forensic financial audit of each Queensland Government department would aim to direct money back toward the delivery of frontline services.
In addition Mr Fraser said a Productivity Dividend would collect $80 million a year from departmental budgets, with an immediate target of $60 million from next year.
He said the dividend would apply across government, providing the discipline to compel each agency to make their dollar go further.
“Agencies will not be permitted to trim frontline services to achieve these savings,” Mr Fraser said.
“Just as family must find savings in their own household Budget during difficult times we have an obligation to do the same in our own backyard.
“However it is important to note money saved in key portfolio areas such as health and education will be quarantined and reinvested back into frontline services for those portfolios.”
EXPENDITURE REVIEW COMMITTEE
Mr Fraser said an Expenditure Review Committee would oversight the Productivity Dividend and ensure it is delivered.
“The latest Commonwealth Grants Commission determination means we will lose significant GST revenue, markets are seizing and the Reserve Bank is intent on slaying inflation - these facts are also no secret,” Mr Fraser said.
“To keep Queensland in the excellent economic position it has maintained for the past decade, we need to respond to these external events.
“This fortnight families around Queensland are once again sitting down at the kitchen table and re-doing their sums.
“With the latest Reserve Bank interest rate rise, families are asking themselves where they can trim, shave and find the savings. Companies, large and small, are having to do the same. And their government should to - and we are.
“A new financial discipline has been visited upon Queensland families and we are visiting it upon government agencies.”
Mr Fraser said the move was not about slashing jobs within the public service.
“There will be no forced redundancies among the public service but there will be some decisions that take leadership and vision to achieve better value for money.
“This is a drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Government activity. It’s about discipline and value for money. It’s what businesses do all the time, it’s what families have to do and it’s what their government must also do.”
The Expenditure Review Committee will be chaired by the Premier and include the Deputy Premier and Treasurer.
It will also include an independent appointee with extensive business expertise.
Mr Greg Moynihan, the former CEO of Metway Bank and currently a board member of Sunwater, has accepted this position.
GOVERNMENT BOARDS AND STATUTORY BODIES
Ms Bligh said she had also instructed that a review of the 600 plus government boards and statutory bodies be undertaken to review their effectiveness.
“I want to cut unnecessary red tape and identify and free up people and funding for the delivery of core public services,” she said.
“Professor Pat Weller, the Chair of Governance and Public Management at Griffith University and Simone Webb, a former Deputy Director-general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet will lead this review.
“It will be completed by the end of the year.
“There can be no doubt that these are significant reforms announced today.
“Reforms that require hard decisions. Decisions that will deliver real benefits and real savings to Queensland taxpayers.”
12 March, 2008
Contact: Premier’s office 3224 4500