The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC



Government Appointments

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:28): I rise to speak about government appointments. Firstly, I guess every cloud has its silver lining, and I join with you, Mr President, I am sure, in congratulating the Hon. Mr Gazzola on the political X Lotto he has just won, having just been appointed, I understand, to two further government paid committee positions, taking his total number now to three paid positions as well as whip. Having done the calculations, he has now cracked the $200,000 barrier. I thought I would put it on the public record just so that his family is well aware of this and that he does not keep these issues from them. They are on notice that the Christmas presents in the Gazzola family this year will be of a much higher quality.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: He may well turn down the offer of president. It might involve a cutback in salary. It is not a bad job. He is sitting on the back bench, not having to answer any questions or manage any department, and he has cracked the 200K barrier. I am sure that is the reason why he has a big smile on his face at the moment.

Turning to some government appointments and looking at the evidence that we have received over a period of time from the Budget and Finance Committee, and other information that has been provided, it is interesting to see how this government is using—and continues to use—government departments as a convenient place for parachuting ex-Labor Party staffers back into positions within the Public Service. The most recent examples we have seen of this relate to the Justice portfolio, but before that I want to turn to the Department of Planning and Local Government.

I have raised before the fact that there seem to be more ex-Labor staffers in that department at varying stages than there are at a Labor Party convention. One looks at the names of ex-Labor Party staffers who have held positions—Mr Petrovski, Mr Vanco, Ms Boswell, Ms Noske, and there are one or two others as well—who, at various stages, have been parachuted out of various ministerial offices or electorate offices into positions within the Public Service.

The interesting thing in the evidence we took from Mr Nightingale was that in most of those circumstances there was no call for positions; that is, they were direct appointments by the chief executive officer. He conceded in Budget and Finance that in three cases he had actually approached the ministerial staffers because he believed that they were the appropriate people to take senior positions within his department.

We also took evidence of a junior position that Mr Nightingale had filled which I understood was a family friend and he conceded again that he had intervened and appointed that particular person to a position in the Department of Planning and Local Government.

I think these are unacceptable appointment and recruitment practices and I would have thought that the PSA and those who profess to be interested in appointment and recruitment practices within the public sector should be taking a closer look at what is going on in a number of government departments and agencies in relation to senior public servants being parachuted out.

I have raised the issues, of course, in the past of people like Mr Worrall being parachuted out of the former premier's office as chief executive. I understand that he has been partially shafted, if a deputy chief executive officer's position under the new premier is being partially shafted from being a chief executive previously. I would be interested to know whether he has had his remuneration package reduced now that he is no longer a chief executive officer.

The most recent example is in Justice. Mr Lachlan Parker has been parachuted into a position in the Justice portfolio. Jerry Maguire, the chief executive officer of Justice, in response to questions, confirmed that Mr Parker had been offered a special position within his department in terms of communication. He was still negotiating with Mr Parker in terms of the salary and the work that would be undertaken by Mr Parker—but again, a convenient use of taxpayers' money. I am not sure what taxpayers think of this, that they are being used in essence just to find jobs to assist the rehabilitation of former spin doctors within the Labor government before they find permanent positions somewhere else hopefully in the community.

Time expired.

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