Bills Digest 14 1996-97 Australian Capital Territory Government Service (Consequential Provisions) Amendment Bill 1996

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This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest was available from 3 August 1996.


Passage History

Australian Capital Territory Government Service (Consequential Provisions) Amendment Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 26 June 1996
House: Representatives
Portfolio: Prime Minister
Commencement: Royal Assent


To allow staff of the Australian Capital Territory Government Service (ACTGS) who are transferred from the ACTGS to corporate entities such as ACT Electricity and Water (ACTEW) to retain the right to apply to the Australian Public Service for selection on merit for advertised vacancies.


The Principal Act, the Australian Capital Territory Government Service (Consequential Provisions) Act 1994, received the Royal Assent on 29 June 1994 and commenced on 1 July 1994. The primary purpose of that Act was to separate the 'ACT Branch' from the Australian Public Service so that a local Australian Capital Territory Government Service (ACTGS) could be created. The Act retained a link between the ACTGS and the Australian Public Service in that staff of the ACTGS are entitled, amongst other things, to apply for selection on merit to all vacancies advertised in the Australian Public Service Gazette. This is a reciprocal arrangement and Australian Public Service officers may also apply for ACTGS advertised vacancies.

Prior to separation in 1994, there were about 9,000 (1)permanent Australian Public Service staff employed in the 'ACT Branch'. The ACT Government public employment profile also contained another 13,000 employees. The separation and formation of the ACTGS saw the inclusion of nearly every ACT public servant within the ACTGS. All ACTGS staff (about 21,000 (2)) enjoy the reciprocal right to apply for advertised vacancies in the Commonwealth Gazette.

The reciprocal right for ACTGS officers to apply for Australian Public Service (APS) vacancies, therefore, extends to more than the 9,000 former permanent staff of the APS who were compulsorily transferred by the Principal Act in 1994. Within the combined total of 21,000 staff were 1,380 ACTEW staff who have now been compulsorily transferred (on 1 July 1995) from the ACTGS to the corporatised ACTEW.

The extended effect of the 1994 Principal Act (up to 21,000 ACTGS staff with a reciprocal right to apply for APS vacancies) was not viewed as adversely affecting the APS because the expanded category included ACT staff such as teachers whose utilisation of the reciprocal right would probably have meant a change of career and a variation in terms and conditions of employment. In other words, the take-up rate of the reciprocal right was likely to be limited.

This Bill will allow former ACTGS staff, such as 1,380 ACTEW employees, to retain the reciprocal 'mobility right' so that they may continue to apply for selection on merit for vacancies in the Australian Public Service. The provision in the Bill could also be used for other staff who are likewise separated from the ACTGS but still employed by an ACT Government entity (i.e. ACTTAB staff who were compulsorily transferred as of 1 July 1996 to the corporatised ACTTAB).

Main Provisions

The Bill implements the legislative amendment by way of Schedule 1 to the Bill. This Schedule contains a single item, Item 1, which expands the Governor-General's regulation-making power under the Principal Act.

The form of the amendment is what is known as a Henry VIII provision which enables the Regulation to amend the operation of any Act to achieve the purpose stated in Item 1. In other words it is a significant grant of power to effect legislative change by way of a subordinate law. Being a Regulation it must be tabled and it is subject to disallowance by Parliament. Apart from the Principal Act, other Acts which might be amended by a Regulation made under this Bill (when enacted) would include the Public Service Act 1922.

The power granted is for a limited period (until 30 June 1998).

These Henry VIII provisions are usually unremarkable where the purpose of the broad grant of power is not inappropriate and it is used to protect or confer rights. The right which is protected here is the right of former ACTGS officers to continue to utilise the reciprocal mobility right, even though the officers are compulsorily transferred to an ACT corporate entity, such as ACTEW. This Henry VIII approach is used where it is considered impracticable to introduce a series of minor amending Bills to Parliament. It is an approach, however, which is endorsed only with reservation by some commentators who examine the use of subordinate legislation.(3)


  1. See Bills Digest No. 94 of 1994, Australian Capital Territory Government Service (Consequential Provisions) Bill 1994, Parliamentary Research Service, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra: 31 May 1994.
  2. Ibid
  3. See the discussion in Pearce, D. Delegated Legislation,Butterworths,
    Sydney, 1977: 7- 10.

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ISSN 1323-9032
© Commonwealth of Australia 1996

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1996.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 5 August 1996

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