Australians are fed up with policymakers in this country, says new attitude research, and they have a right to be according to one of the nation’s top former public servants.
Terry Moran’s remarks to the Institute of Public Administration Australia Victoria’s fellows dinner on Tuesday were less of a stinging rebuke for the profession he once led, but rather a rallying cry to get energised and get back in the game.
Australians don’t just want more effective government — they want a more active government with the courage to take on ideas, said Moran citing the national attitude research from Essential Media and the Centre for Policy Development, which he chairs, in partnership with Professor Glenn Withers from the Australian National University. The research is expected to be published next month.
The pendulum of public consensus has swung away from a preference for small government and a ruthless approach to cost efficiency, to one where government has a larger role, especially in service delivery, and greater impact. A public service that retains the skills and capability to deliver services directly — an active, collaborative player in nation building, not merely a cash machine for a few mates in the form of lucrative contracts.
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The findings also show significant public support for specific reforms to the parliament system to improve probity and accountability to the Australian public. These included a federal corruption commission and allowing citizens to serve on parliamentary committees.
“The starting point for renewing Australian democracy is to reinvest in the creative elements of our public services, enriched as they must be by direct experience of the services that Australians expect government to provide,” Moran told the gathering of Victorian public servants. “On this, the APS has more to learn from state administrations than it seems to realise.”