Speaking of corruptibility, how are OLG and the Minister moving to implement the industry's consensus on “no reason” sackings? Part 2


There’s sloth-like progress, and then there’s OLG and/or the Minister for Local Government looking perilously like they are becalmed. It’s no use emailing or ringing our office to ask what’s going on, we don’t know and neither does anyone else outside OLG and the Minister’s Office. We know how fast the Minister can act and deliver legislative changes when the Minister wants to but it’s two months since that last article in the June issue.

In response to recommendations from the ICAC and a tawdry history of unfair sackings, LGNSW Board first resolved to get rid of “no reason” termination of senior staff other than the GM and established an historic consensus with the unions in October 2021. The CEO of OLG had taunted LGNSW and the unions for years that if we could deliver a consensus, the OLG and the Minister would do something about it. Here it is, established almost a year ago, but it hasn’t happened.

Tyrants opposed it, but in March this year the LGNSW Board’s decision was reinforced by a special conference of councils which allowed tyrants to challenge it but the consensus was overwhelmingly endorsed with unanimous vote. No dissent.

The OLG Employment Reference Group, comprised of representatives of the three unions and LGNSW with OLG officers, on 27 July unanimously endorsed a draft Discussion Paper that had been prepared by OLG officers and amendments proposed by LGNSW had been readily accepted. The draft document was headed “August”, when we would have liked “July”, but now, on 25 August, there is not a peep from OLG, nor in particular, the Minister’s office.

By coincidence there has been an Upper House Committee investigating the appointment of former National Party leader Jon Barilaro to a cushy trade job, he had created as Minister, in New York. In a double page spread in the SMH on 12 August, the paper dealt with the potential conflict that arises with public servants, even those in very highly paid senior positions, when at risk of having their employment terminated at the whim of the Minister. The dreaded “no reason” clause that local government as an industry has now decided must go.

“Over six weeks of evidence, the enquiry has prised open the internal machinations of the public service to lay bare the muddied line separating the state’s most highly paid public servants and the government ministers who can hire or fire them on a whim.

Witnesses in their evidence have proclaimed the lofty ideals of the government sector that operates without fear or favour. But lines of questioning have more often revealed political pressure and nervous bureaucrats. ’The relationship between politicians and the public service is a perennial challenge,’ says Andrew Podger, a former senior bureaucrat and Public Service Commissioner.

‘Problems of excessive political pressure are occurring across jurisdictions and are not confined to one side of politics or the other... Clearly the head of Investment NSW felt constrained in exercising her authority, and pressure was known also to the head of the NSW Premier’s Department.

No public sector of employment, whether it be Federal State or local government, can operate without fear or favour in providing advice or making decisions while ever those responsible for the recommendations and decisions can be hired or fired “on a whim”. No reason, no recourse, no fairness, no justice, nothing.

Neither the employers’ organisation nor the unions understand why something aimed at satisfying recommendations of the ICAC, and removing capricious and unfair sacking of good employees is being treated with so little respect. The Discussion Paper, endorsed by the industrial parties, can still be distributed this month ...


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