There’s a crisis in public administration. Senior bureaucrats have to be at their departments by 6:30am to have Question Time briefs up to their new masters by 8:30am.

After the first two sitting weeks of the new government, however, Canberra insiders are wondering if a bigger crisis is looming; in government media management.

The Lachlan Harris and Tim Gleason episode last week threw light onto Rudd government media management.

Surprisingly few people from the Gallery put their hands up for press sec jobs. Indeed, Crikey understands that while there was a flood of applications for general advisers’ jobs, the pile of CVs from wannabe media advisers was pitifully small.

Not that the government really minded. The general view is that they are happier having political hacks as pressies. They are less likely to be close to journalists.

The results of this approach are evident. Crikey understands Harris has already hauled in pressies for dressing-downs. The lawyer turned political staffer tells them that they don’t know anything about journalism and the media.

The PM’s office is exercising a very strong control over media operations.

Ignorance, control freakery and staff cuts – very busy ministers only have one press sec – are bound to produce disaster.

So there is already a game in Canberra – watching for the discreet hirings to try to fix the problem.

Peter Fray

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