No government has ever thought it appropriate to remove the head of the Treasury and put in someone who is … of a more comfortable political character. Now, I’m not saying that is what has motivated the Prime Minister on this occasion, it may be, but I really don’t know. But if that is what’s intended, that would be a very disappointing move and quite a historic one.
Has he no recall, even second-hand recall, of Gough Whitlam’s bid to unseat Sir Frederick Wheeler in 1975, if necessary by translating him to the governorship of the Reserve Bank?
I find the conceit of these secretaries and former secretaries quite amazing. They actually believe they have the job because they are heads and shoulders above the competition, when in reality many have the job because of Labor political connections. That’s not to suggest that the appointees are necessarily bad, just that there are many others who could do the job equally well, perhaps better.
It’s fine to accept the job on the basis of political connections – just don’t complain when there is a change of government and the new government wants to make some changes at the top. I watched a number of top public servants rise rapidly to the top because of these connections. Good for them. But don’t make the assumption that the top echelon of the public service is necessarily there purely on merit. But the hubris of thinking that they are necessarily better than others is concerning.