Rod Maddock has an important message in this op-ed.
There is something of a cult of independence in Australia: independent broadcasters, independent wage tribunals, and a host of independent regulators. Independent in this context means independent from political interference.
It seems odd in a democracy to want to establish experts, or expert panels, making important policy decisions which are not subject to political control. Surely the basic rationale of our representative democratic system is to allow politicians to take hard choices for society but for voters to hold them responsible for those decisions through the ballot box. Having politicians pass those decisions off to unelected commissioners and other officials appears to weaken our democracy.
It is easy to see why politicians might want to escape scrutiny by hiding behind expert panels and expert commissioners. By establishing terms of reference, and in appointing commissioners, they have some ability to shape the decisions taken but they can escape responsibility for the particular decisions taken. This suggests politicians are likely to set up too many independent entities, to grant and extend independence more freely than is really in the public interest.
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