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.