This year is the centenary of the Public Service Act.
The Act set up the framework for the Public Service with some characteristics that are still valued What was previously a civil service, with direct Ministerial involvement in appointments, became a new Public Service, a statutory term used already in Canada and Australia. Setting up the Public Service Commissioner as the employing agency facilitated a permanent service, not subject to whims of Ministers.
A number of integrity aspects were entrenched by the legislation to minimise conflicts of interest, including
* excluding direct or indirect political influence in appointments
* empowering the Public Service Commissioner to inspect departments to ensure a “proper standard of efficiency and economy”
* providing for examination and entry qualifications, and requiring all appointments to be on probation
* providing for the classification and grading of positions
* allowing increments for good conduct
* conditioning the eligibility of married women whose spouses were public servants
* restricting public servants from taking part in any occupation or profession whether as principal, agent or office holder.
Activities to mark the centenary are being planned.
This year is also the 111th anniversary of the Constitution of Australia Act which came into force on 1 January 1901. The Australian Prime Minister referred to this in her New Year’s message. Interestingly the Constitution makes no reference to a position of Prime Minister. The Act of course provides for New Zealand to form part of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The reference to New Zealand is in the interpretation section of the Act:
“The States” shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a State .