The Public Service Act 1999 provides the legislative framework for merit in the APS. Section 10A—the APS Employment Principles—states:
(1) The APS is a career-based public service that:
(a) makes fair employment decisions with a fair system of review; and …
(c) makes decisions relating to engagement and promotion that are based on merit; and …
(2) Decisions based on merit.
For the purposes of paragraph (1)(c), a decision relating to engagement or promotion is based on merit if:
(a) all eligible members of the community were given a reasonable opportunity to apply to perform the relevant duties; and
(b) an assessment is made of the relative suitability of the candidates to perform the relevant duties, using a competitive selection process; and
(c) the assessment is based on the relationship between the candidates' work-related qualities and the work-related qualities genuinely required to perform the relevant duties; and
(d) the assessment focuses on the relative capacity of the candidates to achieve outcomes related to the relevant duties; and
(e) the assessment is the primary consideration in making the decision.