Parliamentary Service Merit Protection Commissioner's review of 2011–12
The Parliamentary Service Merit Protection Commissioner (the Merit Protection Commissioner) is Ms Annwyn Godwin. Ms Godwin was appointed by the Presiding Officers on 12 March 2008 and her appointment extends to 24 January 2013.
The Parliamentary Service Values set out in section 10 of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 (the Act) provide the context for the performance of the Merit Protection Commissioner's functions. One of these values is that â€˜the Parliamentary Service provides a fair system of review of decisions taken in respect of Parliamentary Service employees'.
Those functions include the review of certain actions affecting Parliamentary Service employees in their employment, such as the review of promotion decisions and inquiries into Parliamentary Service actions, including certain breaches of the Parliamentary Service Code of Conduct.
Outlook for 2012–13
The work of the Merit Protection Commissioner is largely demand–led. Levels of casework are expected to be small.
The Merit Protection Commissioner is an independent statutory office established by section 47 of the Act. Under the Act, the Merit Protection Commissioner fulfils an ombudsman–like role for employment–related complaints, with powers to make recommendations and provide reports to the secretaries of the parliamentary departments.
The Merit Protection Commissioner's functions under the Act are set out in subsection 48(1) and include:
(a) to inquire into whistleblowing reports made to the Merit Protection Commissioner by employees alleging breaches of the Code of Conduct
(b) to inquire into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner and report to the Presiding Officers on the results of such inquiries including, where relevant, recommendations for sanctions
(c) to inquire into a Parliamentary Service action at the request of the Presiding Officers and to report to the Presiding Officers on the results of the inquiry
(d) such functions as are prescribed by determinations made for the purposes of section 33 (reviews of employment actions)
(e) such other functions as are prescribed by the determinations.
The review system, established under section 33 of the Act and by Parliamentary Service determinations made under the Act, gives Parliamentary Service employees the capacity to seek review of employment actions taken by secretaries of parliamentary departments or Parliamentary Service employees. The system allows for external review by the Merit Protection Commissioner or, in relation to promotion decisions, by a Promotion Review Committee established by the Merit Protection Commissioner.
Implementation of the review framework
Parliamentary Service employees have access to the Act and determinations describing the functions of the Merit Protection Commissioner on the Parliament House website.
The Merit Protection Commissioner's casework is undertaken through the review team provided by the Australian Public Service Commissioner. The majority of these staff are located in Sydney.
The Merit Protection Commissioner receives some assistance from the Parliamentary Service Liaison Officer who is an employee of the Department of Parliamentary Services.
Readers with enquiries about the Merit Protection Commissioner's Annual Report should contact:
Office of the Parliamentary Service Merit Protection Commissioner
Australian Public Service Commission
16 Furzer Street
Phillip ACT 2606
Tel: (02) 6202 3505
Fax: (02) 6202 3534