Our ministers don’t resign if their public servants stuff up – “never have and never will,” says Patrick Weller in The Australian.
A minister should be the responsible public face of their department,
where they answer to the public and the parliament, and the public
servants remain anonymous. The “ministers
still want the credit; but for decades they have been keen to distance
themselves from responsibility.” But in the wake of the AWB scandal it
has become obvious that we need a “close relationship between minister
and department, not only to maintain constitutional responsibility but
also to provide good government.”

“Who runs this country?” asks Tim O’Dwyer in The Canberra Times.
“It
is generally accepted that economists rule the bureaucratic roost in
Canberra,” says O’Dwyer. So why then are there so many God-damned
lawyers in parliament? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a healthy
number of economists in our cabinet to help guide the ship? Obviously
not. So in the
coming years, watch for more “bizarre ministerial arguments for radical
law-and-decision-making now a lawyer-loaded government appears to
control the Senate.” You’ve been warned.

The
suggestion that Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon’s involvement in the Bob
Brown-Dick Smith deal to save Recherche Bay from loggers was nothing more than “icing on the cake” is just plain wrong, says
Greg Barns in The Mercury. “Paul Lennon, the supposed redneck and
friend of the big end of town, has delivered for the conservationists
yet again,” says Barns. And it’s no surprise that the Tasmanian Greens
have begun to fragment into “fundamentalist hardliners and pragmatists”
– they’ve started to backflip on key policies (drugs) as they prepare
for the upcoming election.

India’s
flirt with globalisation looks successful on the surface, but its
real challenge is “to tackle head-on the deep-rooted inequalities that
are holding back social progress, especially the deep inequalities in
opportunity that divide women and men,” says Kevin Watkins in the International Herald Tribune.
Accelerating social progress in India will require more than sustained
economic growth, and “changing the structures that consign India’s
rural poor, especially poor women, to a lifetime of disadvantage is
more difficult than economic reform.”

Liberalism – or, as it’s otherwise known: “the religion of letting it
all hang out” – has come to the forefront of the Danish cartoon
debate, says Stanley Fish in The New York Times.
“The first tenet of
the liberal religion is that everything (at least in
the realm of expression and ideas) is to be permitted, but nothing is
to be taken seriously,” – especially religion. “Strongly held faiths
are exhibits in liberalism’s museum; we appreciate them, and we
congratulate ourselves for affording them a space,” but when it comes
to defending them, we run for the hills. The editors who’ve published
the
Cartoons “do not publish the offending cartoons in an effort to further
some
religious or political vision; they do it gratuitously, almost
accidentally.” Dialogue will do nothing to ease the situation, and
those who
invoke it are unlikely to do anything but further persuade the
religious devotee that they have “missed the point — as, indeed, you
are pledged to do, so long
as liberalism is the name of your faith.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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