The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) appears to be having an ideas shin dig at Byron Bay. Talk about dining with the Devil. And at this shin dig, former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (and Australian Ambassador to the US) Michael Thawley is present.
has called for a “radical rethink of the place of the public service in Australia’s political structure”, arguing that as the “greatest single repository of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t” it needs to become “a whole lot more forceful”.
Some ideas are so stupid they can only come from a senior public servant.
Where to start. Where to start.
Public servants as advocates for their own policies rather than those of their elected masters. Howz that for Democracy. But it’s not as if the public servant technocrats don’t actually already behave as if they run the show. Who needs the Westminster System when we have the Canberra System.
It is however the suggestion that the public service is the greatest single repository of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t that blows Spartacus’s mind and makes one wonder how Thawley rose to the ranks he held. Actually it does not make Spartacus wonder.
As an aside, earlier in his career Spartacus heard a speaker explain why so many organisations failed (don’t ask for an attribution because Spartacus can’t remember the speaker’s name):
When you put together the Best of the Worst with the Worst of the Best you get the Cream of the Crap.
And ladies and gentlemen (and any other title relevant to readers out there), this is what we have: the Cream of the Crap. And this is why Spartacus does not wonder.
For Thawley to say that the public service is the:
greatest single repository of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t
requires a belief that the world is binary. That things either work or don’t work. It does not get any more juvenile or junior burger than that.
Without going through a long list of abject government failures; actually let’s, starting with just a couple from the last 10 years: NBN, pink bats, $900 cheques, Adelaide submarines, carbon tax, mining tax, renewable energy target.
But what about at what works at what cost. What about what works better? What about what works but can work better and more efficiently? As Thomas Sowell would ask, what works relative to what?
To have the (former) most senior Australian public servant think in such a simple and simpleton way begs the question of how do those less senior think.
And then, with a further brilliant insight, Thawley says:
the finance sector might have grown too big, here and around the world.
Really? Could it possibly be that the Australian finance sector is as large as it is because of compulsory superannuation – compulsory as in at treat of life, liberty and/or property.
Good thing Mr Thawley is extracting a nice rent from the finance sector as vice-chairman of Los Angeles-based Capital Group.