Parliamentary committee inquiries—submissions and hearings
The Commission provided input into several parliamentary inquiries during the year.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Law Enforcement Integrity Commission—inquiry into the integrity of overseas Commonwealth law enforcement operations
On 6 December 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity initiated an inquiry into the management of corruption risks arising from the international operations of Commonwealth law enforcement agencies. On 21 June 2012, the committee amended the terms of reference to allow consideration of the corruption and integrity matters faced by all Commonwealth agencies and not just Commonwealth law enforcement agencies.
The Commissioner made a submission to the inquiry in August 2012 and appeared before the committee on 8 August 2012. The submission and the Commissioner’s evidence noted the role of the Commissioner, the application of the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and the low levels of misconduct identified and investigated in the APS in 2011–12.
The committee reported on 24 June 2013.
Standing Committee on Education and Employment—inquiry into workplace bullying
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment commenced an inquiry into workplace bullying in May 2012. The Public Service Commissioner and Merit Protection Commissioner made a joint submission to the inquiry in July 2012 and appeared before the committee on 17 August 2012. On 26 November 2012, the committee tabled its report, entitled Workplace bullying: We just want it to stop.
The Commission contributed to the government response, which among other things accepted the report’s recommendation that a review be conducted of the use of Regulation 3.2 (direction to attend medical examination). The Commission agreed to take carriage of this review, which will commence in 2013–14.
The recommendation addressed to the Merit Protection Commissioner is reported on in the Merit Protection Commissioner’s annual report which follows the appendices to this report.
Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs—inquiries into public interest disclosure legislation
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs commenced inquiries into the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Bill 2012 and Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012 (the Wilkie Bills) in November 2012, and the government’s Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2013 in March 2013. The committee tabled its report on these Bills on 28 May 2013.
The Group Manager, Ethics participated in a roundtable hearing on the Wilkie Bills on 30 November 2012, and the Commissioner made a submission in relation to the government’s Bill in April 2013. Among other things, the Commissioner noted the need for a public interest disclosure scheme to work effectively with the existing APS misconduct regime.4
The parliament subsequently passed the government’s Bill, and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 takes effect on 16 January 2014.
Standing Committee on Education and Employment—inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment (Tackling Job Insecurity) Bill 2012
In November 2012, the Fair Work Amendment (Tackling Job Insecurity) Bill 2012 was referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment for inquiry and report. The Bill recommended a number of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 to provide a process for employees in insecure work to be moved to ongoing employment status in certain circumstances.
The Commission’s submission to the inquiry noted support for measures that guard against the improper use of insecure working arrangements, but expressed concern about the Bill’s compatibility with the principles of the PS Act, and more specifically the principle of merit-based employment.
The committee’s final report was tabled in June 2013, with the recommendation that the House of Representatives not pass the Bill.
During 2012–13, the Commission contributed to the government response to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report 117: Family violence and Commonwealth laws—improving legal frameworks. The report was part of the government’s action arising from the recommendations from the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.