Feb 27, 2018

Vanishing public servants and Schroedinger’s emails at estimates

Missing public servants and emails in a quantum state of flux dominated the first day of estimates.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

For the once-admired Australian Public Service, estimates hearings now regularly serve up examples of how untransparent and incompetent it has become. So the first day of the current round of additional estimates hearings showed, which begun Monday.

First there was the Australian Public Service Commission. Last October, APSC head, industrial relations hardliner John Lloyd, was busted emailing his former colleagues at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). His emails showed him providing research assistance for the IPA and whining about Labor’s Penny Wong. At the time, Labor asked the APSC to provide a log of Lloyd’s contacts with the IPA. But the APSC refused to do so, claiming “to provide the information requested would require an unreasonable diversion of APSC resources”.

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8 thoughts on “Vanishing public servants and Schroedinger’s emails at estimates

  1. klewso

    Our public service sold out when it sold it’s arse to Howard to build fire-walls, and continued apace with political appointments to head departments to do the bidding of the government of the day, before “serving the public” – Guthrie.
    What the hell is Parkinson doing dropping off looking into Jethro’s “idiosyncrasies” behind the arass, to benefit Vikki Campion with a $six-figure job that followed her from office to office – “because he’s left the front bench”???

    (“Vikki had a little job,
    It’s value grew and grew;
    And every office Vikki went
    That earner followed too.”?)

    1. Nudiefish


    2. Karen Hutchinson


  2. zut alors

    Lo, that old chestnut, the Sergeant Schultz response ie: I know nuthink!

    Perhaps public service heavies should have their salary garnished for every question they fail to answer (accurately) in Senate Estimates.

  3. Hunt Ian

    Ah, Bernard. Having embraced neo-liberalism, the public service looks forward to its endless “efficiency dividends”, endlessly “doing more with less”, because production of commodities admits of endless improvements in productivity. A public service ideologue is in charge of the brilliant policies of NEM, thinking endlessly how “market signals” might get all those competing providers to keep the lights on, while the price of electricity for consumers, and now even business, rises and rises.
    One day, some ideologue will apply an “efficiency dividend” to the ASO, and with lots of “doing more with less” we will get to the Australian Chamber Music Ensemble, and then, finally, the Australian Music Soloist. At that point the awful truth will dawn on the public service, that efficiency dividends cannot endlessly be applied, while all the while promising “more with less.”
    Journalists no doubt have some personal awareness of this. And you, Bernard, are noting the beginning of the end of the Australian Public Service, to be expected back in the 80’s when they became neoliberal ideologists and now being realised as they cannot do the job expected of them, giving all sorts of phoney excuses.

  4. AR

    There was a reason the permanent civil service was established – to provide frank, fearless advice regardless of the political demands from transient politicians.
    Back in the day, Sir Humphrey pointed out to Bernard, who had had an attack of conscience, that “… the average Minister has a career of less than 2 years, the average civil servant 40. Choose wisely.”
    I yield to none in my loathing of the Rodent but it was HawKeating who began the rot in the public service.
    Pezzullo is a perfect example of someone able to rise without trace or accountablity but R. Crusoe he ain’t.

  5. graybul

    One wonders about the applicability of deceit being the new foundation stone governing the Australian Public Service. The word “suborn” comes to mind. Relationships between Politicians and Public Servants must now be measured sans trust.

    Corrupt and rotten to the core!

    1. AR

      I can think of a few other words which might apply.
      Co-opt, coerce, complicit, compromised, cowardly and you’ve already suggested corrupt.
      Last night’s Senate hearings into why the investigation of the BruderFarce chief has been duck shoved hin & zu was instructive – under questioning from Sen. Wong as to why, the cypher answered, “Don’t know”.
      Thanks a heap, I slept so much more easily after that.

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