Henry resigns, Parkinson takes over

News has emerged that Ken Henry will step down from his position of Secretary to the Treasury in March next year.  He will be replaced by Martin Parkinson who currently heads up the Department of Climate Change (groan).

Why The Age would consult Christopher Joye is a complete mystery, but this is what he had to say:

“Ken Henry will be remembered as one of Australia’s most activist and creative Treasury Secretaries with a strong humanitarian streak in the vein of his predecessor, Bernie Fraser.”

 Joye is wrong for at least four reasons – Fraser was essentially a Labor hack; he was a complete wet on fiscal policy; he was soft on monetary policy; and he was in bed with the trade union movement and so completely unreconstructed on industrial relations.  So what precisely is humanitarian about these characteristics?

As for Ken, I guess it is not surprising that he is going.  He made a big mistake accepting the commission of chairing the tax review and this governance mistake in part contributed to the mining tax fiasco and the non-implementation of the vast bulk of the report.

In my opinion, he never understood the principles of federalism – most Canberra-based bureaucrats don’t – and he thought the states could be (financially) bludgeoned into submission.  He was a big backer of COAG.  The inital streamlining of the Special Purpose Payments was a good idea – and probably his – but the rest has been complete bollocks.

We will miss his terrific body language gestures before Parliamentary committees – priceless.  Suffering fools gladly is probably not one of his strengths.

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21 Responses to Henry resigns, Parkinson takes over

  1. Infidel Tiger

    Our gain is the furry nosed wombat’s loss.

  2. Peter Patton

    Well given the effort he put into getting on the tele over the past few years, he will earn a fricking fortune in the finance sector.

  3. richard thornett

    A bit of envy there Judith regarding Christopher Joye, eh? It was only a few months ago that you wrote in these pages:

    “Christopher Joye has an excellent piece in the ABC’s Drum website about the ‘economics’ of the NBN. I would recommend you read it in full. He makes the new point that the addition to the nation’s debt is in fact very substantial and that the opportunity cost of this initiative is extremely high when consideration is given to the initiatives foregone.”

    As a leading economist, The Age was probably well served consulting Joye.

  4. stacey jones

    Maybe Fairfax consulted Joye for the same reasons The Australian newspaper declared him last year one of its top “emerging leaders”, and for similar reasons to those that prompt Malcolm Turnbull to consult him on many things, the RBA, Treasury and Obama on housing market matters, the Rudd Government on the liquidity of the securitisation market, and the Gillard govt on creating a National Electronic Credit Register, etc. What do you think, Judith?

  5. JC

    Suffering fools gladly is probably not one of his strengths.

    He must have been into self loathing in a big way then.

  6. C.L.

    Why the hell would we want a Treasury secretary with a “humanitarian streak”? Does his concern for wombats ameliorate the misery index in some way.

  7. JC

    Yea… only leftwingers can be humanitarian. Being the unions doormat automatically makes you a lifegiving saint in the church of leftism.

    (Raise wage levels by 10% annually and take interest rates to 17%… gets you a humanitarian award)

  8. hc

    Henry was a top civil servant and a good bloke. His views on the mining tax were correct. It was only the deluded who saw otherwise. I guess that as a government employee he is fair game on a libertarian blog but the unjust comments on him by Judith deserve counter-claims.

    Henry didn’t direct the tax review – it operated with considerable independence – but he did help get it moving in the right direction. The analysis he provided will guide tax reform in Australia for another 20 years.

    Why the snide remark about the Department of Climate Change? Is it simply a reflex response given delusional views on climate science?

  9. FDB

    “Why the snide remark about the Department of Climate Change? Is it simply a reflex response given delusional views on climate science?”

    Yes Harry.

    Denialism operates at brain-stem level most of the time.

  10. Ev630

    Denialism operates at brain-stem level most of the time.

    A lot like cultist faith, eh FDB?

  11. Peter Patton

    I don’t know anything about Christopher Joye, but is he part of that set, which yearns to be a member of an “Independent Fiscal Policy Agency” politburo?

  12. JC

    Henry was a top civil servant and a good bloke.

    Yes of course he was. The fact that he took that third crap of suggestion of yours, to tax the shit out of cars off the road, has nothing to do with your view, does it? Incidentally if you had a freaking ounce of integrity in you, you’d mention that as a potential conflict.

    His views on the mining tax were correct.

    He views were not correct and your comments referring to mining executives as liars and cheats is beyond the pale. We’ve already discussed the fact that the operational rate of the new tax for the big miners, which currently accounts for 88% of the taxes in the sector were ruinous, as they would have increased from an already high 43% to 57%. It was a Chavez like grab for the money and as a Greens party supporter, you of course would advocate ruinous taxes, you slob.

    If Wombat Henry had done the right thing he would have followed the constitution with regards the tax and advised the states to implement his policy and walked away. Mining tax is a states based tax and it should remain so.

    It was only the deluded who saw otherwise.

    You’re sounding like Homer. Is this the sort of argumentation they taught you at that third-rate university you went to? Great argument, you offensive intellectual oaf

    I guess that as a government employee he is fair game on a libertarian blog but the unjust comments on him by Judith deserve counter-claims.

    Lol. The only thing you’ve ever done at this blog is abuse the writers.

    Henry didn’t direct the tax review – it operated with considerable independence – but he did help get it moving in the right direction.

    WTF is that supposed to mean, you incoherent nincompoop.

    The analysis he provided will guide tax reform in Australia for another 20 years.

    Lets hope they avoid the get the bloody-cars-off-the-road tax then.

    Why the snide remark about the Department of Climate Change? Is it simply a reflex response given delusional views on climate science?

    You stupid clown. Ignore your own?

  13. Dandy Warhol

    Judith, after ten years at the top of Treasury I suspect Ken is exhausted. The job is non-stop stressful and a close observer will be able to see that the job has taken a toll on him physically.

    The stress may have affected his judgement in recent years. However I would urge readers to consider just how hard it is to fight for good economic policy when your boss is a moron and his boss is, first, a mean-spirited hate-filled paranoid control freak with delusions of grandeur, and secondly a spineless dud. Doing your job successfully means keeping these people’s confidence, and that sometimes means pouring a bucket of mud on yourself while you keep your eye on the prize.

    It’s not easy and Ken did a commendable job in circumstances where I suspect all commentators on this blog would have folded long ago.

    I’ll note that former Secratary John Stone, someone not shy of ‘telling it like it is’, never once criticised Ken. I suspect because he knew the pressures that Ken was under and decided to support him, rather than shoot for the low-hanging fruit.

  14. val majkus

    I think Treasury became too politicised during the Rudd regime; anything from the first stimulus package to the Mining Tax Rudd and Swan rolled out Ken Henry to substantiate their decisions; I don’t know why Henry allowed himself to be utilised in that way; that’s not part of Treasury’s role and my fear that the next appointee will be even more subservient to this incompetent Govt’s policy desires and a global warmer to boot! I’d like someone independent of policy making not someone who Swan Gillard roll out to promote their policy wisdom. In that respect I guess I disagree with Dandy; my view is don’t go beyond your job description

  15. JC

    Dandy:

    I’m not buying that shit for one second. Here’s why…

    Towards the end of the Howardhitler Government Ken gave a speech that was extremely damaging the to the government of the day. The lying sack of shit made it in front of 300 people. He suggested it was supposed to be confidential and was shocked, shocked that it ever got out.

    The truth, as I see it, was that he did want it to get out and that he was playing politics giving Labor a gentle push.

    He was critical of the Howard government for not going through treasury to cost out a water policy of $10 billion. Howard should have fired the fucker at that very point in time, as he was inserting himself into the political game.

    Lets fast forward now to the present government. How many billions of dollars have been wasted by these turkeys, yet Ken’s silence has been deafening and in fact he’s been supportive at times. I’m not talking about the stimulus either. Just the billions wasted and about to be wasted.

    We’re about to spend $50 billion on the NBN 5 time over the policy he had a problem with during HoeardHilter’s time. There’s no CBA.. nothing… Where’s Ken’s criticism.

    As for working hard. Big deal. Senior executives all work pretty hard, so why is he so special?

    Screw him. I hope he ponders his intellectual dishonesty in his retirement and this is the last we ever hear from him. I never want to hear or see that fuckers face again and it’s a pity he’s walking away with our pension money for what he did.

  16. Sinclair Davidson

    I’ll note that former Secratary John Stone, someone not shy of ‘telling it like it is’, never once criticised Ken. I suspect because he knew the pressures that Ken was under and decided to support him, rather than shoot for the low-hanging fruit.

    You don’t attend enough functions to make that assessment.

  17. Judith Sloan

    Harry, I was really slagging off at Bernie Fraser and not King Henry, if you didn’t notice. But I do agree with JC that the speech delivered at the end of the Howard government was treason. And the idea that Treasury understands anything about water policy is ludicrous judging by some of the comments Ken has made.

    As for the mining tax, the theory might have been OK but completely collided with reality eg. the banks did not value an IOU from the government; the states would not relinquish their right to levy royalties, hence undercutting the rationale for the tax.

    And as for ‘go hard, go early, go households’, the less said the better.

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    Gee Judith, you reckon I’m soft.

    The mining tax was a crap idea, based on pre-marginal revolution notions of ‘rent’ and value theory and a paucity of facts – the Henry Review into taxation didn’t know how much tax Australian mining firms paid!!!

    There is only one aspect of the Henry Review that has been subject to intense scrutiny – if the rest of it is based on the same level of faulty logic and factual error as was the RSPT, then a quiet obscurity is best for the report.

  19. C.L.

    Dandy, JC nails it.

    Henry was a Labor stooge.

  20. JC

    …the Henry Review into taxation didn’t know how much tax Australian mining firms paid!!!

    What a total and complete embarrassment with the South Carolina academic having to patiently explain that his work could not be used and was never intended to be used to determine the taxes paid by miners.

    And we then had the spectacle of his department having to concede the nonsense about the potency of the stimulus seeing his department was caught out on telling bullshit.

    This is the treasury secretary people are defending? FFS.

  21. C.L.

    I see Hockey gave Ken a big smooch on the bott today, lauding his “distinguished career” etc. Several months ago Joe was saying the whisperer had to be axed. It’s nauseating how clubbishly these Canberra cretins carry on when one of their own retires. We need some forthright bastards willing to say ‘see-ya – DLTDHYITAOTWO.’

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