On the APS shakeup

Richard Shortt writes: I’m not aware of any problems being alluded to or raised besides the “congestion” comment made by the PM. Congestion is a problem that capable ministers working on their portfolios and collaborating with their peers can solve. Without a problem to fix, mergers are commonly used to “be seen to be doing something”. This was the case in the US when the Department of Homeland Security was hurriedly created from 22 organisations after 9/11. In Australia a more perverse reason appeared to be behind the Home Affairs creation — a minister’s ego. We will hear much of efficiencies and capabilities (none of which will be measured) and ultimately there will be reports of the “cultural clashes” that all such undertakings create. I wish all the public servants who face a holiday season upheaval due to this move a happy holiday and offer the, my thanks for the great work they do — quietly — on behalf of us all.

John Attwood writes: “Good public services shouldn’t need regular royal commissions to shock them into doing their jobs.” And good political decisions shouldn’t be made behind closed doors with the universal caveat of “national security” to hide behind. As ever, we get the politicians we (collectively, not individually) vote for. The current crop are less competent, less humane, less responsive to community than any we’ve had before. I wonder what electorate voted to be inhumane and stop sick people getting appropriate medical treatment.

Wayne Cusick writes: It seems that the government has not much else to do other than rearrange the deck chairs.

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Desmond Graham writes: The only way to control centralised bureaucracy and government in Canberra is to strictly enforce the Australian Constitution — in other words make Canberra get out of activities which the constitution doesn’t give the federal government. The reason why it has evolved into a mess is that Canberra wants to direct all activities of life. It is ably aided by that other public service department, the High Court. Since Federation the court has been the legal mouthpiece and accomplice of Canberra by systematically stripping the powers from the states. The judges of the US Supreme Court have over centuries have preserved the states from Washington in complete contrast to the High Court here in Australia, where it is merely another arm of government.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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