An illuminating interview with Philip Ruddock on the 7:30 Report last night.

The Attorney General says he’s prepared to change the law if books
sold in a Sydney bookshop promoting jihad and suicide bombings are
found to be legal. The AFP weighed in
too. The federal flatfoots are examining the books to decide whether
they breach the law. These books are utterly undesirable – but isn’t it
amazing that
none of these people has ever heard of the internet. You can find
plenty of hate literature on your PC and print out as many copies as
you want.

More amazing was the AG’s denials over the Palmer Report:

KERRY O’BRIEN: On the Palmer report, which was utterly
scathing of the way your old Department of Immigration enforced the
government’s policies on detention. Your successor as minister, Amanda
Vanstone, said she’s responsible for fixing the problems, not causing
them. The clear implication from your colleagues is this was your mess.

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, I’m not sure that’s the implication at all. If somebody was going to say that they’d say it directly…

KERRY O’BRIEN: They failed to deliver policies that respected human
dignity over years, not just in the Rau case or the Solon case, over

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Kerry, the findings related to the way in which
departmental officers administered particular policies in which there
were, as Palmer, as I read it, outlined should be followed.

KERRY O’BRIEN: But that Department answered to you. Those officers answered to you, didn’t they? Have I got that wrong?

PHILIP RUDDOCK: Well, in part you have, because I think in relation to
Ms Rau all of the issues arose while Amanda has been minister.

Ah. Buck-passing. Vanstone blames Ruddock and Ruddock blames Vanstone.

The Canberra Times recently editorialised:

Given Palmer’s criticism, it would be reasonable to assume
that little or no performance pay will be paid to the officers working
in the relevant divisions of DIMIA. The Opposition should be preparing
its questions on notice now to get the appropriate statistics on the
unsatisfactory, satisfactory, and outstanding performances. If the
average ranking is not somewhere below satisfactory, then it would
appear that the Department has not accepted Palmer’s findings.

There are sure to be lessons for other departments in this whole sorry
affair. How many departments have ‘process rich’ but ‘outcomes poor’
systems? As departments write their annual reports for 2004-05 they
might pause to consider whether they emphasise quantitative yardsticks
rather than qualitative performance. They might re-examine their
proposed outputs and outcomes for future years to see if they can be
put in a form that will show whether they are really delivering the
policies and services the community expects of them.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey