Hating the Abbott government II

As I’ve argued before many bureaucrats and government agencies seem to have taken the view that it is their job to take on the government.

No doubt, next week some other government agency will step up and belt the Abbott government for good measure.

To be fair, it has taken more than a week – but, I suppose, we can’t expect too much over the summer break. Nonetheless it has happened as Nick Cater explained in the Australian:

In December, at a forum of health ministers from Australia and New Zealand, assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash made it clear that she was sceptical about a plan to place a health star rating on the front of food packets.

She was concerned that the Regulatory Impact Statement, requested by the Office of Best Practice and Regulation in the middle of last year, had not been produced. Nash ordered the department to calculate both costs and benefits and to report back to the forum in June.

The Blob was having none of it. Kathy Dennis, the assistant secretary in charge of the Healthy Living and Food Policy branch, decided to press ahead anyway.

Two weeks ago, the department launched a website, www.healthstarrating.com.au, explaining the forthcoming health star rating system that the minister had yet to approve.

A ministerial adviser contacted Dennis expressing the minister’s concern, but the website remained in place. Nash’s chief of staff, Alastair Furnival, called Dennis to reinforce the message. Dennis stuck to her guns.

The minister was obliged to take the matter to the acting head of the department, Mark Booth. On Booth’s instructions, the website was taken down and Dennis was moved to other duties.

That is bad enough – but get the next part of the story:

The excuse for the outbreak of insubordination, if you believe The Guardian, was that bureaucrats believed they answered to a ministerial forum (which includes, incidentally, New Zealand’s Health Minister Tony Ryall) not Nash, the minister accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament.

The fact that Australian public servants could even imagine that they are not accountable to the Australian government, or the minister, is astonishing. That is a huge governance failure. Now maybe the previous government led them to that view – although I seriously doubt that.

Now Kathy Dennis should be sacked – and several of her mates too for good measure. At present the Abbott government does not have control over the bureaucracy. As Nick tells us:

The mutiny at Sirius House is not an isolated case. The progressive establishment clearly has it in for the Abbott government.

Across the board, from the Climate Change Commission to the ABC, the Human Rights Commission and even Infrastructure Australia, all are openly hostile to the popularly elected government.

Unfortunately the Liberals have a history of weakness in this area. Failing to sack Ken Henry in 2007 was a huge mistake – that we all came to regret, and pay for, through his advice during the GFC, his mining tax proposal etc.

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72 Responses to Hating the Abbott government II

  1. Infidel Tiger

    The Libs are getting what they deserve. They have been weak from the get go

    The left only understand violence. Only mass sackings will bring the bureaucracy to heel.

  2. JC

    Now Kathy Dennis should be sacked – and several of her mates too for good measure. At present the Abbott government does not have control over the bureaucracy. As Nick tells us:

    I’m sorry to ask, but is that even a question? Dennis and her group ought to have their arse kicked out the door into a parallel universe. This is really important as lessons need to be learnt really quickly.

  3. Infidel Tiger

    The left must be physically and mentally punished at every opportunity.

  4. KC

    This is one of the weaknesses of the ‘executive federalism’ model of government, where things are decided by ministerial councils and not elected governments.

    This is what you get where the Feds (or its bureaucracy) want a particular policy outcome in an area where it has no constitutional responsibility, but does have the staff available (and money) to do things – and yet, it is the Ministerial councils that do make final decisions.

    This is the list of such councils that sit under COAG:

    http://www.coag.gov.au/node/41

    It is therefore plausible that this public servant could be waiting for a MinCon tick off – particularly where sovereign New Zealand is involved in decision making.

    The real issue is – why are the Feds involved in ‘healthy living’ websites. This is the classic area where one would have though competitive federalism would have produced the better outcomes.

  5. Walter Plinge

    Let’s hope Dennis was moved to ‘special projects’, the kiss of death in private industry.

  6. JC

    The left must be physically and mentally punished at every opportunity.

    And even then it’s half hearted softcockery

  7. eb

    And, of course, Furnival ended up being sacked.
    The Libs must realise that the MSM will never, never ever, give them an even break. They should ignore them and stick to their principles…oh wait. Yes, I see the problem.

  8. For Christs sake Tony, we know you’ve got balls. Use the bloody things – they’re not Christmas decorations, you know.

  9. Infidel Tiger

    This is the state of politics in this toilet of a country. Rather than scrapping the website altogether the eunuch Libs decide to release a less worse version.

  10. Tom

    Until there are sackings, APS activists will continue to pretend they’re answerable to higher friendly powers, like the captured ministerial council cited. This reminds me how ASIO in the 1970s fought moves to make it accountable to parliament instead of their own cold war code of morality and loyalties. Dennis must be sacked. After six years of Alinkyist government, bureaucratic and judicial activism is out of control. The AbbottSatan regime appeases at its peril.

  11. JC

    If there’s one thing I did to help the right’s cause is that I taught John Key to be ruthless and unforgiving. :-)

    Key had a similar problem at the very beginning of his government some years back when some climate zombie criticized the government’s policy. Key had the fucker fired the next day. That’s how you do it.

  12. calli

    Don’t sack them, that will cost us in severance packages. Do what Newman did to Withers…put them each in a room with a phone, a fax and a filing cabinet…and wait.

  13. lotocoti

    Until there are sackings disappearances …

    It’s the only way to be sure.

  14. candy

    Furnival resigned, not sacked, due to the pressure on him. It’s a nasty business.

    Perhaps Ms Nash should have been tougher right from the beginning. I like Calli’s solution above.

  15. Sirocco

    Is this Kathy Denniss any relation to Richard Dennis from The Australia Institute, and the co-author with Clive Hamilton of “Affluenza” the climate change doomsday scenario?

  16. Des Deskperson

    The Public Service Act 1999 includes a Code of Conduct that requires APS employees to at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values.

    These Values include:

    The APS is professional, objective, innovative and efficient, and works collaboratively to achieve the best results for the Australian community and the Government.

    The APS is apolitical and provides the Government with advice that is frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence.

    Senior managers are expected in particular to comply with and model the Code and the Values.

    I wouldn’t, of course, want to pre-empt any investigation of a possible breach of the Code by Ms Kathy Dennis’s (a typically Health Department name, BTW), but I suggest that she has a case to answer. Has she been charged, and if not, why not?

    ‘That is a huge governance failure. Now maybe the previous government led them to that view – although I seriously doubt that.’

    For all its faults, the previous Government, and Senator Faulkner in particular, was scrupulous in making their correct roles and responsibilities clear to APS employees.

  17. Squirrel

    While some of her colleagues might see Ms Dennis as a martyr, I imagine others will be cursing her (privately, if not publicly) because they would have the sense to realise that the Department which currently employs them is quite vulnerable. I imagine a hard, dispassionate look at it would conclude that the essential things which need to be done at the Commonwealth level in that portfolio could be handled by perhaps a third or a quarter of the current staffing complement.

    Some within the Government may now also be thinking that a few more Secretaries should have been sacked or shuffled.

  18. feelthebern

    It’s the only way to be sure.

    You forgot about nuking the place from orbit.

  19. JC

    Is this Kathy Denniss any relation to Richard Dennis from The Australia Institute, and the co-author with Clive Hamilton of “Affluenza” the climate change doomsday scenario?

    You kinda hope so., as you’re kinda killing two crows with one stone.

  20. Sirocco

    Interesting Des. Why is Denniss a “typically Health Dept name’? The family business?

  21. Rabz

    The new government is incapable of taking on the public service leviathan, as this episode described by Cater so clearly demonstrates.

    The behaviour of the bureaucrats described above is appalling and everyone involved in this open defiance of the Minister should have been disciplined, at a minimum. Indefinite suspension without pay is an obvious remedy that should have been imposed.

    The Government needs to step up here. The bureaucracy is riddled with lazy, stupid, unprofessional overpaid imbeciles obsessed with implementing an agenda of increasing state control over the citizenry as well as the imposition of absurd, unintelligible legislation resulting in strangulation by regulation. Don’t ever forget that this was Lady Lardarse’s ‘signature’ achievement, FFS.

    There have been a quite a few commenters here of late prissily denouncing the use of the term ‘softcocks’ to describe the new government. I didn’t vote for the f*cking Liberals to have them faff about ineffectually at the edges of the culture war.

    Shutting down the ALPBC and the AHRC as well as legislating various government departments and agencies out of existence is what they should be doing – and they need to bloody well harden up in order to do so.

    Abbott may just want to be loved, but he’s attracting the odium of his former supporters while not being loved or respected by the regressives.

    Enough, you frigging twits. Think of your own constituency first, FFS.

  22. Des Deskperson

    ‘Why is Denniss a “typically Health Dept name’?’

    It’s more ‘Kathy’ . Every woman in Health seems to be either a ‘Kathy’ or a ‘Jules’.

  23. feelthebern

    From the other thread:

    There’s one thing a left public servant fears the most and that’s getting booted from their job because in nearly all cases they’re unemployable. Fire a few of the miscreants and you you’ll end up with a more compliant workforce.

    Very true.

    If this public servant had any links to any unionist/ALP member, wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest that the press should focus on, just like they did on Nash’s chief of staff?

    As I posted on the other thread (bright & early this morn), why didn’t Nash go on the front foot?
    Is she lazy, stupid or did she just want to get rid of her chief of staff because he was Credlin appointed (I am purely speculating about the last point).

  24. Des Deskperson

    ‘Some within the Government may now also be thinking that a few more Secretaries should have been sacked or shuffled.’

    Two points; Health has the worst reputation of any Portfolio Department in terms of management, employee relations, bullying etc. Staff survey data would seem to indicate that it’s based on more than just rumours.

    Jane Halton has been Secretary since 2002, far longer in any one Department that any other portfolio head. Her survival, particularly under Labor, has been a source of wonderment for years, since she was always seen as an LNP stooge and, of course, she was appointed when Abbott was Health Minister. Her role in all this – or has her term recently expired? – would be interesting.

  25. Dave Owen

    Calli, you are wrong. It was Goss who put the senior public servants in the old correspondence school and left them to rot. Newman asked Withers to undo all his work of the previous years. I understand O’Farrell employed Withers on a huge fat salary so even though he had to move to NSW he is still doing very well at taxpayers expense

  26. Louis Hissink

    Do I get it right, that these bureaucrats actually believe they are answerable to a quasi global committee rather than a sovereign nation? Let’s remember that the marxists want to get rid of all nationalities, and I suspect part of that process is to dump other nationalities onto Australia; They have done it to the US of course.

    So this has to be looked at from the stance of a global government process, not a purely local/national one.

    Given how embedded we are in the UN process, with its decidedly progressive agenda, I doubt this attitude could be changed – sack Dennis and she will be replaced by another, patiently waiting in the wings.

    Study the language they use – the assumptions behind Cassidy’s questions to Morrison on Insiders.

    I have the funning feeling they feel it’s a done deal, that we are part of a global governing system and the LNP had better toe the line.

    We are in interesting times.

  27. calli

    Dave, I bow to your better knowledge…you are right.

    Although Goss was and probably still is odious, the solution is elegant, and even better, cost effective.

    That O’Barrell gave Withers a gold plated job in NSW beggars belief. Some of us, particularly those in Ku Ring Gai, have excellent memories.

  28. Makka

    How is this surprising? And, I am certain this kind of thing occurs across all Depts. The APS is infested with Lefty Unionists (47%?) who will do everything short of throwing in their job to thwart the Conservative Govt. They are a 5th column in our midst.

    This is why there must be a massive cull in the APS. Massive. They act as a bullwark to implementing Conservative policy as well as undermining Govt. Cull. Cull.Cull. Put them in their place Abbott.

  29. Des Deskperson

    ‘Don’t sack them, that will cost us in severance packages.’

    There would be no severance pay for an employee terminated for a breach of the Code of Conduct, nor, IIRC, are SES employees covered by the unfair dismissal provisions of the Fair Work Act. It should be easy, all it needs is someone to show a bit of focus and moral courage.

  30. Leigh Lowe

    The excuse for the outbreak of insubordination, if you believe The Guardian, was that bureaucrats believed they answered to a ministerial forum (which includes, incidentally, New Zealand’s Health Minister Tony Ryall) not Nash, the minister accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament.

    OK.
    Time for an outbreak of literal interpretation by the Minister.
    Cut the fuckers budget for this peripheral health PR shit in half and, when the screams start, simply give the deadpan reply “But, but, if you are accountable to the ministerial forum, surely the other members are providing partial funding for your activities. They’re not? Oh well

  31. JC

    I’d be happy to do it, Des. In fact the government wouldn’t have to pay me a cent to do their PS firing.

  32. Leigh Lowe

    There would be no severance pay for an employee terminated for a breach of the Code of Conduct, nor, IIRC, are SES employees covered by the unfair dismissal provisions of the Fair Work Act. It should be easy, all it needs is someone to show a bit of focus and moral courage.

    Exactly.
    Issue clear “cease and desist” notices under the Ministers hand and fire for the first breach.

  33. H B Bear

    Failing to sack Ken Henry in 2007 was a huge mistake – that we all came to regret, and pay for, through his advice during the GFC, his mining tax proposal etc.

    As most despots fully understand, heads on sticks are a very effective learning tool. I’m sure after walking past the dessicated bonce of the Wombat Whisperer each morning on their way into the Treasury building those faithful public servants would have a much greater understanding of the public service codes of conduct.

    Hockey should have demanded the resignation of Martin Parkinson on day 1 also after the hopeless performance of his Department under The Goose and KD Wrong.

  34. Infidel Tiger

    I’d be happy to do it, Des. In fact the government wouldn’t have to pay me a cent to do their PS firing.

    I’ll pay to do the firing. I’ll recoup my expenses by live streaming the executions to S&M lovers. It will be brutal and pulverising, but extremely beautiful.

  35. JC

    I’ll pay to do the firing.

    So would I. Zero was my opening gambit.

  36. Leigh Lowe

    No doubt one of the drivers for the current open revolt in Health is Abbott’s pre-election undertaking that there would be no cuts in Health spending.
    They think they are bullet-proof.
    I don’t think it would be a stretch to make the case that “funding for hospitals and front-line health care is unchanged, but we have eliminated nanny state interference and waste in the Canberra bureaucracy”.

  37. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From JC at 10:42 am:

    “I’d be happy to do it, Des. In fact the government wouldn’t have to pay me a cent to do their PS firing.”

    Can I be the big old bloke with a busted nose who follows closely behind J.C. with a cudgel, dealing summarily with whoever he points at?

  38. M Ryutin

    “The new government is incapable of taking on the public service leviathan, as this episode described by Cater so clearly demonstrates”.

    This is not so Rabz. The strength of the government to tackle this general problem is not clear as yet (nor is the strength of the various ministers either – we might have to wait to see how the regulation repeal goes in March to find out – but I know ACMA is being heavily assaulted right now by two aggressive Minister/Assistant).

    But this all happened in the past two weeks and Nash has shown her ability to go right to the top to get her wishes complied with. Thanks to Nick highlighting this case, not only is the government on notice but so are we.

  39. Vicki

    Can somebody tell me when exactly so many of the erroneously labelled “cultural elites” decided that they would henceforth abandon recognition of the sovereignty of the nation state in favour of some global authority or international body???

    I believe this is a concern of James Allan’s forthcoming book. It certainly is something we should all be concerned about, particularly when it is infecting the federal bureaucracy!

  40. Rabz

    We shall see, Ryutin.

    As a general rule of thumb, I’ll be keeping an eye on public service numbers, including announcements detailing any cutbacks, departmental mergers, etc.

    I think the most obvious examples of the Government’s ineffectual behaviour includes the fact the likes of Parkinson and Scott weren’t sacked on the Monday after the election – and as detailed above, the response by the Government to the actions of Dennis and others was pathetic.

  41. incoherent rambler

    all it needs is someone to show a bit of focus and moral courage

    Morrison is the only example of this that I have seen from the Credlin Government.

  42. Infidel Tiger

    As a general rule of thumb, I’ll be keeping an eye on public service numbers, including announcements detailing any cutbacks, departmental mergers, etc.

    I was listening to the debate between whoever is the Premier of SA ( either an effeminate man or a husky lady, couldn’t tell) and the opposition leader ( no idea of his name). Do you know that SA has 110,000 public servants? Bloody hell. Where the hell do they put them all? Is there any private enterprise outside of body disposal in SA at all?

  43. Robbo

    calli
    #1193586, posted on February 18, 2014 at 9:44 am
    Don’t sack them, that will cost us in severance packages. Do what Newman did to Withers…put them each in a room with a phone, a fax and a filing cabinet…and wait.

    They don’t need a phone , fax or filing cabinet. The room should contain a chair – an uncomfortable chair.

  44. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “As I’ve argued before many bureaucrats and government agencies seem to have taken the view that it is their job to take on the government.”

    This is a reason why I hold no hope that the LNP will last more than two terms. The knucklehead young will return Labor in an instant because they have been taught that it is “the right thing to do.” That mantra has been embedded now, just as a microchip in their texting finger, and we are dead set rooted for the future.

    In time they’ll be startled, too late, to find themselves answering to some grossly obese sheila with a mustache heading the Department of Do As Your Told. Ministers will get to open prayer mats in all public spaces, mothering rooms for two-poofs and toll gates every one hundred yards gathering gold coins for noble savages and their wealthy AFL big man.

    Labor left behind many departmental citadels fully populated with faithful foot soldiers whose job it is to do not much until the aberrant capitalist phase has passed. Look at the the senior blokes in government departments across the country – the drug dealers missus’ husband, Comrade Toofy and Wealthy (in the Beattie manner) Blie$ old man; senior advisers like the Opossum whisperer; this fat lard from Health featured today – they all are carrying the standard openly for their besties until they stumble back in.

    Bailleu, Fatty O’Barrell and now Tony Abbott are the face of modern Liberal, Labor’s hopeless useless mate.

    The fact they are getting away with it is so very wrong and Tony Abbott ought hang his head in shame that he didn’t act unilaterally and swiftly in September-October. There is no excuse for not so doing.

    With no economic recovery emerging to re-focus the idle minded subjects onto wealth creation this parlous lot with impressive job titles are the new rich. They have taken control of the public agenda, firmly, permanently and I believe we are done for.

  45. Des Deskperson

    Actually, can we get a bit of perspective here.

    For starters, the APS isn’t full of unionists. The CPSU claims ‘around 55,000′ members in the ‘Commonwealth’, which includes, for some reason, the ACT public service. That’s a little over 30% of the APS when you exclude the highly unionised ACT mob. Apart from a few very small professional associations (and maybe the Financial Services Union still has a few members in Tax) the CPSU is the main APS union.

    The Department of Health is a disfunctional shambles with a reputation for poor governance, execrable staff relations and a tendency to over-promote women (it’s quite possible that Ms Dennis is merely incompetent). It should not be taken as any sort of benchmark for the overall professionalism of the APS.

    In my experience, the great bulk of APS employees are apolitical and professional, they behaved so under Howard and then under Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. I’ve spoken to a few recently who are a little P****ed of with this Government’s management, and this is because they are getting no direction from their Ministers or their offices about how policies and programmes are to be implemented.

  46. Jessie

    Infidel Tiger at 9.22

    The left only understand violence.

    True, and at every level.

    Maybe Libs have short memories? An Irish friend tells me a report concluded the Irish gov’ts public health care would fall over if it were not for the tobacco tax. Watch for the ‘evidence- base’ argument in food labelling.
    A quick search of the NHMRC grants is instructive, particularly for interest groups (under ‘Your health).

    On 20 December 1996, Justice J Finn of the Federal Court of Australia handed down his judgment in the case of the Tobacco Institute of Australia (TIA) Ltd and others v the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and others. Justice Finn concluded that, in developing its recommendations for control of environmental tobacco smoke, the NHMRC’s Working Party on Passive Smoking erred significantly in regard to the consultative procedures that it employed. As the following discussion shows, the legal decision has profound implications for the NHMRC and the provision of expert advice to Australian governments on matters of health and health policy. The discussion has been prepared by three members of the NHMRC Working Party, but reflects their personal views and not necessarily those of the Working Party as a whole or those of the NHMRC.

  47. MemoryVault

    This is not so Rabz. The strength of the government to tackle this general problem is not clear as yet

    Ya see, Rabz old friend, you’ve got it all wrong mate. It is currently “unclear” that the duly elected government of the day, has any actual power of governance over, or responsibility for, the APS. It only becomes “clear” that the duly elected government has such power and responsibility when Venus and Mars are aligned in the fourth quadrant of the House of Scorpio. This is what Abbott and his cabinet are waiting for.

    I have cast the relevant astrological charts and it would appear that the correct confluence of the Signs in the Heavens will occur on March 19, 2017. Then Abbott and his cabinet will be ready to strike with a vengeance and smote all wickedness from the land.

    Unfortunately the same astrological chart predicts that by then we will have another hung Parliament with a Labor/Greens minority government.

  48. Jessie

    Mick Gold Coast 11.31

    Labor left behind many departmental citadels fully populated with faithful foot soldiers whose job it is to do not much until the aberrant capitalist phase has passed.

    The Dept of Do as Your (‘re) Told was entrenched years ago, the Howard years was their successful testing ground.

  49. Pedro the Ignorant

    A side issue, but should be said.

    Many thanks to Des Deskperson for the thoughtful and revealing insights into the Public Service culture in Canberra.

    An insider’s view like this is worth it’s weight in gold.

  50. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Jessie at 12:04 pm:

    “The Dept of Do as Your (‘re) Told …”

    I made a spelling error which I should not have made, yes.

    Whatever else you said is way too obtuse for me.

  51. Jessie

    Des Deskperson 11.44

    30% achieved extraordinary awards for the remaining 70% who don’t have the integrity to stand up for decency.

    The Together Union (foot soldiers) of nurses, allied health and so on was discussed by Judith Sloan Another file for the Royal Commission?

    MemoryVault
    Haha. You eschew chicken entrails and virgins?

  52. MemoryVault

    Haha. You eschew chicken entrails and virgins?

    Chicken entrails are for divining which “conservative” state government will outdo the others in socialist policy – currently a close race between Fatty O’Barrell and Naphthalene Man.

    As for virgins, I’m with Billy Connolly on that one.

    (CAUTION – Coarse Language)

  53. This is all well and good, but what part of “potential conflict of interest” do they not understand? It was a political death-wish which can destroy the best of intentions. Simply put, any time the left identify a potential conflict of interest among their enemies, they can act with impunity knowing they can destroy them at any time.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

  54. The left only understand violence.

    Bullshit, IT. Even Marxism itself is an economic theory (albeit a wrongological one), and they feel economic pain as much as the next person. Don’t believe their moral grandstanding on personal economics. It’s generally their hip-pocket nerve they’re protecting.

  55. Pete of Perth

    Dear Libs, this is how Ren deals with dissent.

  56. Senile Old Guy

    I don’t think it would be a stretch to make the case that “funding for hospitals and front-line health care is unchanged, but we have eliminated nanny state interference and waste in the Canberra bureaucracy”.

    This is what I think we will see come March.

  57. stackja

    TA stopped the boats. Now time for the next item on the agenda. ALP always gets a free run. TA has to battle. Another bloke had doubters too:

    Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

  58. Contrast Dennis’s insubordination with how APS executives would deal with insubordination by one of their own flunkies. In one particular instance we were told to have no contact with a certain former employee in any form and to inform on anyone who did. Furthermore, we were instructed not to comment on the matter with anyone and not to ask any questions. I have no idea what it was about but they clearly acted like despots themselves when it suited them.

  59. cuckoo

    Many thanks to Des Deskperson for the thoughtful and revealing insights into the Public Service culture in Canberra.

    Seconded.

  60. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Many thanks to Des Deskperson for the thoughtful and revealing insights into the Public Service culture in Canberra.

    And so say I.

  61. Wozzup

    Any public servant who has been to an induction course (or who has ever voted in an election for that matter) exactly understands this fundamental pronciple of governance – they are accountable to the Minister and through Cabinet processes to the government of the day – who are ultimately accountable to the people of Australia. Anyone who does not understand this basic foundation rule of public service should quickly be apprised of the fact by way of a DCM (Dont Come Monday) notice. Only an idiot would profess that they are accountable to some kind of “friendly” ministerial forum and thaat person deserves the most robust kind of censure. As a public servant it is your role to follow the policies of the government of the day. If you do not agree with those policies then thats OK. To the extent that you find them to be reprehensible then its also understood and accepted that its open to you to resign and if necessary enter to political debate using your newly independent status to argue against those policies. This is called democracy. But there is no democracy within the public sector which is bound by law and convention to implement the policies of the elected government. No public servant worth his salt simply ignores the commands of a Minister (or for that Minister’s adviser acting on the wishes of the Minister). And if they do they get what they deserve.

  62. Wozzup

    Lets get this clear here. For those who do not understand the public sector, a public servant NEVER puts a ministerial council before his / her own Minister. Yes there are Commonwealth / State Ministerial Councils (mincos in public sector speak) but the relevant minister in the relevant jurisdiction ALWAYS has final say on how much of the minco’s agenda he or she will sign on to. This is why before a minco meets every public servant working on something that comes under it will brief his Minister to go along to minco meeting and say “We know you agreed something under the previous government. We are a new government and that is not our policy so we will not support it.” This is always how it MUST work or government accountability becomes impossible.

  63. johanna

    In large part, Ministerial Councils are just embryonic versions of the EU. We now have NZ in the pot, and the bureaucrats are angling for Pacific nations to join in. What’s not to like? A career path, plenty of travel and hospitality, one size fits all (and we will decide what size that is).

    Back in the Dark Ages, I used to work on Ministerial Council stuff. There was a default clause – “except Western Australia” – gord luv ‘em. They routinely refused to sign up, as a matter of principle, even if their own laws were the same.

    Even earlier, in prehistoric times, I worked in an area where Joh Bjelke-Petersen refused to take Commonwealth tied grants, for the same reasons.

    These days, no politician seems to understand what the hipsters might call the “spider/fly interface.”

  64. Tintarella di Luna

    Given that section 51 doesn’t give the Commonwealth any responsibilities for Health why can’t the whole bloody department be shut down except for the Minister who personally hands out the taxpayers’ money and wants value for it.

  65. Des Deskperson

    Thanks Pedro, Cuckoo and The Walrus.

    Johanna, Econocrat and Rafiki are also all pretty good on the Commonwealth public sector and its discontents.

  66. Jessie

    MVault
    As was Thomson with the HSU card ;)

  67. johanna

    Nice link, Jessie.

    The Simon Chapmans of the world need to be exposed. It is not about health, it is about dictating our lifestyles.

    Second-hand smoke was rubbish, but now they are running a line about “third hand smoke.” Yep, if you are exposed to an item of clothing worn by a smoker, you could die.

    I hate these people with a passion. One of the worst cruelties they did in the “interests” of other people was banning smoking for people in mental hospitals. They are just f****** sadists.

  68. Squirrel

    “No doubt one of the drivers for the current open revolt in Health is Abbott’s pre-election undertaking that there would be no cuts in Health spending.
    They think they are bullet-proof.
    I don’t think it would be a stretch to make the case that “funding for hospitals and front-line health care is unchanged, but we have eliminated nanny state interference and waste in the Canberra bureaucracy”.”

    I agree. In Question Time last week, Peter Dutton spoke about pushing more funds to frontline services – so yes, the Government could keep faith with the “no cuts” promise and reduce substantially the numbers of officials. The same could, of course, be done in other areas aside from Health. Outside of Canberra, I don’t think too many people would have a problem with this. I find it interesting (and not in a critical or suspicious way) that The Australian has more than once questioned the nature and extent of the Commonwealth role in areas such as health and education – I think they are making a valuable point about the best use of scarce public funds.

  69. Boambee John

    “in a room with a phone, a fax and a filing cabinet…and wait.”

    Then they will spend the day (at taxpayer expense) plotting with their like-minded colleagues and the Opposition.

    Agree the room, but delete the phone and fax (and especially any computers).

  70. .

    Let me just say, unequivocally, tied grants are bullshit. They are distinctively and intentionally anti Federalist.

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