Scott Morrison government transparency foreign aid
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Scott Morrison’s recent speech to public servants (which Bernard Keane said sounded like “bumping into a New Public Management theorist in the toilets at the footy”) was heavy on metaphors but light on substance. But that doesn’t meant that that PM doesn’t have an agenda in mind for Australia’s bureaucratic machine, Crikey readers say. Elsewhere, readers discussed News Corp’s deployment (and targetting) of children in its culture wars.

On Morrison v the APS

Gregory Bailey writes: I think the reality is that Morrison is a strong authoritarian for whom power is its own reward. Reading extracts from David Crowe’s summary of the shenanigans leading up to Turnbull’s replacement, it is clear Morrison is both cunning and ruthless. Morrison may try and turn the APS to his own will, and will probably succeed with appointments at its top level, though those public servants below the top may react negatively to this extremely partial understanding of their role. Underneath it all, however, we must recognise that the Australian electorate voted him in and that they may be willing to embrace what will be an increasingly authoritarian style.

Steven Westbrook writes: Morrison’s concept of advice is scary. Imagine someone from ABARE plucking up the courage to tell the resources minister that thermal coal profits might be on a limited life. Although it’s on a much bigger scale, the gold standard for political leaders having their minions too terrified to properly advise them is Stalin rejecting all intelligence of an impending German attack. Self-delusion eventually encounters the real world.

Richard Shortt writes: Dear public servants, thanks for holding everything together during times when your political “leaders” are dashing about positioning themselves and knifing each other.

Chris McLenaghan writes: Often wonder if these stump speeches could be quoted in evidence and used as a defence if a public servant claims any alleged wrongdoing was done by virtual directive? Watch that blocked as a defence.

On News Corp v the kids

Mark Dunstone writes: This story reminds that it is frequent in countries like Australia for judges to warm juries that testimony from children should be given less weight. This is based on the 19th century assumption that children are more likely to make up stories and tell fibs compared to adults. Children shouldn’t be trusted. However, the actual evidence, when people have researched the matter is exactly the opposite: child witnesses are more likely to tell the truth compared to adults. What is uplifting from Thunberg is that her responses consistently and forcefully always address the issue at hand. She doesn’t play the person, nor puts down her detractors. Why do the adults criticising her in the media always play the person? She is correct in asking where are the real adults.

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey