Public Service Morale

13 Apr 2005 archivespeech

This speech is in relation to Public Service morale and this state government as a bad boss.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It gives me great pleasure to follow that erudite contribution from the Hon. Mr Sneath, who clearly has a problem with the concept of competition for political pre-selections. My topic today is in relation to Public Service morale and this state government as a bad boss. There is a series of alarming trends within the government which are not being attended to. As I have mentioned previously in this council, Public Service morale is at an all time low, with the rates of sick leave per full-time equivalent on the increase. In 2001, it was 6.1 days per FTE; 2002, 6.7; 2003, 7.2; and in 2004, it has increased to 7.4. We have also seen through the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment alarming responses to issues of work¬place bullying, which, it is reported, is at a rate of some 26 per cent.

In response to the question: `How has your morale changed over the past 18 months?', 14 per cent said that it had deteriorated. I will not outline the previous contributions I have made from the Public Service Association as they are on the record, but I will refer to the issue of women's advancement in the Public Service and how appalling that is. I refer to Labor's platform for government titled `Women: Reaching Equality' and its second point that women have the right to work—rather a patronising statement, I think—and that Labor will recognise that women are still the primary care givers in the community, including those who care for children, the disabled and the aged.

As I will outline, that does not apply to their own employ¬ees in the Public Service. Under the heading `Status of Women', it states:
Labor believes:

21. That the involvement of women is essential to policy making in the government.

22. That government should provide a structure and partner¬ship with the private sector let us enforce these rules on the private sector but not in our own patch to ensure women's choices and interests are supported and main¬tained.

When we look at the record of the way in which the government is treating women in the Public Service, it makes a sort of sly leaning in its bill to have 50 per cent of women on boards but neglects the people who are doing the work on the ground in the Public Service. In fact, the number of female executives employed under the PSM act has fallen, with the equity index still showing that the employment of women is skewed towards the lower end of the classification scale. A number of public servants are not even aware of their rights in terms of flexible working arrangements such as purchased leave, compressed weeks and job sharing.

Dr Barbara Pocock is worth noting for her comments, in which she has heavily criticised the government for its attitude in its current negotiations in respect of paid maternity leave. She describes it as the `national delinquent and the family unfriendly government'. The OCP has also pointed out that there is continued under-representation of women in leadership positions. While it may be commendable that the gender balance bill recognises that women make up 51 per cent of our population and that we do need to make efforts in that regard, the government is actually completely neglecting women in the Public Service and treating them in the same way it does with respect to everyone else who tells it something that it does not want to hear.

If one looks at the Liberal Party's record, we were able to steadily increase the representation on boards and committees—and a lot of this was driven by the Hon. Di Laidlaw; and I think she needs to be recognised for that—from 25.2 per cent in 1993 to 33 per cent in 2002. That is a very significant amount, without having to put in measures to address that, as this government has to do because with its male-driven culture it does not like to give the girls a go, unless it recognises that it is a politically popular move.