Three NSW asylum-seekers have been awarded plum jobs in the Commonwealth public service by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

They are:

  • Former NSW Cabinet director-general Dr Roger Wilkins, now secretary of the federal Attorney-General’s Department;
  • Former director-general of the NSW Premier and Cabinet Department Robyn Kruk, soon to become secretary of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts;
  • Former NSW treasury secretary John Pierce, soon to become secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

The appointments cast serious doubt about Rudd’s political and professional judgement. He clearly hasn’t bothered to bring himself up to speed on the events in NSW over the past decade when these three occupied the most senior jobs in the public service.

All three have fled the scene of the crime and been rewarded with salary packages worth more than $300,000 in Canberra.

Their fingerprints are all over such debacles as the Cross City Tunnel, the Lane Cove Tunnel, the rail, bus, ferry crisis, the public hospitals fiasco and much more.

Why the Rudd Government needs to recruit three refugees from the State of Despair is a mystery. Perhaps the years of politically-driven ethnic cleansing by former Prime Minister John Howard and his thuggish lieutenants have deprived Canberra of a second tier of bright and shining public servants and this has forced the headhunters to scour provincial pastures.

Are these three capable of stepping up from the second division to the national league?

Kruk replaces David Borthwick, one of the most capable officials in the land. He has taken early retirement largely as a result of the absurd ministerial arrangements which were devised by Peter Shergold, Howard’s head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Borthwick found himself responsible to two ministers — Environment, Heritage and Arts Minister Peter Garrett and Climate Change and Water Minister Senator Penny Wong. Both have an unfailing belief in their own abilities and both believe they are the minister in charge of the department. The result? Clashing egos and bureaucratic nightmare!

Peter Boxall’s departure to ASIC as one of its new $384,130-a-year commissioners has dumbfounded Canberra insiders.

The former chief of staff to Peter Costello, Boxall is a rolled gold Liberal whose Canberra public service career is remembered for selling government buildings, outsourcing IT and pushing a crude economic rationalist agenda.

Seasoned hands are asking: “Why has he been rewarded with a highly-paid job in Sydney. What did he ever do for the Labor Party?”

Only Kevin from Queensland knows the answer to that one.

Meanwhile, questions remain about whether Pierce has the skills to succeed Boxall at Resources, Energy and Tourism? One need only consider the stifling logjams in the NSW mining industry, former Premier Morris Iemma’s failed plan to privatise the State’s power industry and the damning report by rugby and soccer supremo John O’Neill into the chaotic state of NSW tourism to be more than a little anxious.

Peter Fray

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