Public officials should demonstrate responsiveness by:
- providing frank, impartial and timely advice to the Government; and
- providing high quality services to the Victorian community; and
- identifying and promoting best practice.
(Public Administration Act 2004, s. 7)
2.1 Advising Government
Public sector employees serve the Government of the day and provide the same high standard of advice regardless of the party in power. Advice is provided in a frank, impartial and timely manner, and with an understanding of its implications on the broader policy direction of the Government. Public sector employees do not withhold relevant information from the Government.
2.2 Remaining Apolitical
Public sector employees conduct themselves in an apolitical manner. They implement and administer the policies and programs of the elected government. They avoid in the course of their work, any participation in activities which support a political party or independent candidates including attendance at fund raising or similar events.
During caretaker periods (which are governed by caretaker conventions relating to the period of the election campaign and sometimes the period immediately after the election) public sector employees maintain the neutrality of the public sector and comply with relevant policies and protocols issued by their employer. They do not use their position to support particular issues, parties or candidates in an election campaign.
If standing as a candidate in a State or local government election, public sector employees ensure that they balance this right against their obligations under section 95 of the Victorian Constitution and this Code. They discuss with their manager how this may relate to their public sector duties.
Public sector employees provide briefings or information to members of parliament only when authorised by the relevant minister. When providing briefings or information to members of parliament public sector employees respect the confidentiality of ministerial and government considerations leading to a decision, and decline to provide personal views or judgements on government policy or policy options of the Victorian or other governments.
Public sector employees provide support to ministers when information is required by parliamentary committees and may appear before such committees as a representative of the minister. Information sought by parliamentary committees should be provided unless the relevant minister certifies that disclosure would be prejudicial to the public interest. Official witnesses should be co-operative and frank when giving factual information. On matters of government business, public sector employees may appear before parliamentary committees as a representative of a minister. They are not therefore expected to answer questions:
- seeking their personal views on government policy;
- seeking details of matters considered in relation to a ministerial or government decision or possible decision, unless those details have already been made public or the giving of evidence on them has been approved; and
- that would require a personal judgement on the policies or policy options of the Victorian or other governments.
Public sector employees who are directed to answer a question falling within the coverage of the categories listed above, seek a deferral until they can discuss the matter with the minister or chief executive as appropriate. Alternatively, they can request that the answer to the particular question be reserved for submission in writing.
2.3 Services to the Community
Public sector employees provide services to the community in an equitable, prompt and professional manner. They act within the level of their authority and in accordance with the relevant policies.
2.4 Contributing to Improvements
Public sector employees are committed to continuous improvement and adopt a best practice approach to the performance of their work. They identify and actively promote appropriate strategies, methods and processes that lead to improved performance.