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State Service Act Changes Proclaimed

THE recent changes made to the State Service Act 2000 have been proclaimed by the Governor and come into force effective from 4 February 2013.

The changes remove the role and Office of the State Service Commissioner – transferring ‘employer’ powers to the Head of State Service.  The Premier, as Minister Administering the State Service Act, has appointed the Secretary of Premier and Cabinet, Rhys Edwards, as the first Head of State Service.

The power to hear and determine reviews into appointments and other administrative matters has been transferred to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission (TIC).  This means all grievances or disputes into matters in the public sector will now be heard by the TIC.

Most existing Commissioner’s Directions and Ministerial Directions have been reissued under the new legislation as Employment Directions.  Their intent and effect are largely unchanged despite the role of the independent statutory office holder being removed.

In most cases the powers formerly exercised by the State Service Commissioner have been transferred to the Head of State Service, although there are a number of instances where the power has gone to the Minister Administering the State Service Act or the Head of Agency.

While some members may be concerned that the employer now has the ability to exercise more powers without the oversight of the State Service Commissioner this is balanced by the ability to take matters in dispute to an independent, external jurisdiction and for their determinations to be binding on the employer.  The CPSU welcomes what appears to be a more streamline process with disputes unresolved at an Agency level likely to be referred to the TIC more quickly than in the past.

The Head of State Service is required to report on his exercise of the employer powers to parliament annually and the auditor-general will also be conducting regular investigations.  This will be an opportunity for the whole Tasmanian community to see how the government of the day is performing against the principles in the State Service Act.

The Public Sector Management Office will conduct the employer functions on a day to day basis on behalf of the Head of State Service.  It is expected PSMO will publish the Employment Directions and other relevant employment documents on its web site soon.

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