Mr CHARLES CASUSCELLI (Strathfield) [12.08 p.m.]: I will make a very brief contribution to debate on the Public Sector Employment and Management Amendment Bill 2012. In doing so I rely on my substantial experience in the public and private sectors spanning over 30 years. I think it would be fair to say that over time, whether you are in the public service or a private sector organisation, there is a need for organisations to change. That need is brought about by all sorts of factors, whether they be government policy, changing market conditions, significant changes in the client base that you provide services to or demographics of staff. Organisations need to change for a whole range of reasons. The reality is that as organisations change their size changes as well, and the skills and attributes of the staff need to be realigned with the new challenges that are before an organisation. It is not uncommon for organisations in the private sector to make radical change. In fact, I have worked in organisations where 20 per cent of the staff resource has been made redundant in a single program spanning between 6 and 12 months.
The need to make radical change and the extent of it can be quite substantial, but the private sector responds by helping redundant employees. It puts staff on protracted programs to help retrain them and to them find alternative employment, as well as trying to redeploy them within the organisation—in or out of country. But one thing that the public sector does not do—which is exclusive to the public service—is to take their staff who potentially should be made redundant and park them in an area called the twilight zone. To be fair, I have experienced this myself in the public service. The twilight zone is where work is to found that is not meaningful, or where outcomes are produced to demonstrate that something is being done and therefore the cost of keeping staff on the unattached list is justified.
As the public sector moves to being more productive, more competitive and more aligned to serving the community it needs to look at this unattached list issue. The O'Farrell Government has done that. The Government has done nothing more than to take a look at an area of government where scarce resources are being wasted. Most of the people on the unattached list are either middle management or supervisory level; very few are frontline service delivery staff. Having come from the public sector, sometimes I would bump into someone earning $100,000 per year and then I would go to another office and see a contractor employed for $150,000. Sometimes it would strike me that the skill set of the contractor was not totally unlike that of the person on $100,000. I failed to understand why the Government was wasting many millions of dollars on the unattached list when it was spending hundreds of millions of dollars on temporary hire, contractors and consultants. I scratched my head for quite a while trying to figure that out.
This bill is simple: the public service needs to align its staff resource to need. Once that is done, if it is found that there are excess employees, something definitive should be done with them. Excess employees should not be parked in an area that is very disillusioning—is that a word? Can I make that up? I am Italian: I can make up words on the go. Excess employees should not be parked in an area that creates un-motivation. Is that another word I can make up on the go? I am on a roll here. I have seen the effect of workers who turn up for work every day who are not motivated. They are not energised. They do not get up of a morning and say, "Wow, I am on the unattached list. I am going to go to work and so something for someone but I really cannot do anything that I really want to do because the opportunity is not there for me."
I have been made redundant twice in my career—much to the pleasure of some of the people I have left behind, I am sure. By being made redundant I experienced something that others who have not been made redundant would struggle to understand. Being made redundant was probably the best thing to have happened in my life. And others who have gone through the same experience have told me that being made redundant allowed them to get on with their lives. It allowed them to seek opportunities which allowed them to exploit their skill sets. They all said it was a great relief when it happened, rather spending day-in day-out in a job that was not meaningful.
I do not believe any reasonable person could question that the main objectives of the bill are simple and worthy of support. If a staff member is being made redundant because of an organisational realignment or a series of changes which require a different skill set to be used then the organisation is bound to make every effort to find that person meaningful work. It must be meaningful work, not a temporary position on the unattached list in the twilight zone. But if no meaningful work can be found a decision needs to be made to allow employees to get on with their lives. I commend the bill to the House.