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One of Crikey’s favourite bullshit reports is the “Global Competitiveness Report” from the World Economic Forum at Davos, which is regularly used to belabour Australians for how uncompetitive we are despite the economy outperforming nearly all of the developed world since 2008. As Crikey pointed out a few years ago, the report is based on a survey of a handful of business execs in each country and has no rigour of any kind. But just in case you were wondering, a report from late last week caught our eye. In the most recent Competitiveness Report released a month ago, Australia was comprehensively thrashed by Saudi Arabia on measures to do with public sector efficiency. On “wastefulness of government spending” the fundamentalist misogynistic theocrats of Saudi Arabia ranked 12th in terms of efficiency, while we only managed 52nd. On overall public sector performance, the Saudis ranked 21st; Australia 32nd.

Only problem is, last week, the Saudi minister responsible for the kingdom’s public servants savaged his workers, saying “the amount worked [among state employees] doesn’t even exceed an hour — and that’s based on studies”. Two-thirds of all Saudis work for the government, are virtually impossible to sack, enjoy a 35 hour week, soak up 45% of the entire Saudi budget and receive frequent bonuses. In comparison, every public servant, policeman, nurse and doctor’s salary at all levels of government in Australia doesn’t even reach 35% of the Commonwealth government’s spending, let alone the far more massive figure of all Commonwealth, state, territory and local government spending. Clearly they don’t let a few facts get in the way in Davos.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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