Appointing the most suitable candidate for the role.
This principle is reflected in our legislation through a requirement to “give preference to the person who is best suited to the position” when making appointments. Giving preference to the candidate most suited to the role arose as a safeguard against appointments made based on political affiliation or patronage.
Suitability for the role may include factors such as team fit, cultural and language competency or community connections. The precise definition of ‘merit’ is left undefined, which helps ensure the principle remains consistent with the principles of diversity and inclusiveness also set out in the Public Service Act 2020 — that Public Service employees should reflect the make-up of society.
Merit-based appointments matter because they:
- maintain procedural fairness for all candidates
- improve Public Service performance by selecting the best candidate for the job, regardless of personal views or relationships
- maintain public confidence in Public Service’s ability to act impartially and to serve successive governments by supporting the principle of political neutrality. This helps to preserve the capability and institutional memory of the Public Service.