Thanks to Sinclair for having me on this wonderful forum on a regular basis (some of you might recall a few posts I’ve made here over the years).
I’m starting my free citizen innings with an extract from my 13 September 2020 email to Tim Pallas, Victoria’s Treasurer. No response yet but he doesn’t need to talk to me – there are good people within his department who can advise him if he asks them.
The question is, of course, why did the senior public service not advice on the pandemic policy in a sensible manner? One of the issues arising from this pandemic is the failure of senior public servants to perform their role – I’ll have more to say on this issue in due course. I’ve incidentally alluded to this issue in my AFR piece and also in an interview with Peta yesterday on Sky News (it was prerecorded so I’m not sure if she’s put out everything I said).
Till 10 September 2020 I worked as an economist in the Department of Treasury and Finance.
Unfortunately, I can no longer support the policies and strategies being implemented in Victoria in response to the coronavirus pandemic. To be able to speak my mind directly to the people, I have resigned in protest and reverted to being a free citizen.
I am writing this email since I have held (and continue to hold) you in high esteem and would like to provide you with an opportunity to consider an alternative view.
The Victorian Guide to Regulation states: “It is not possible for governments to provide a completely ‘risk free’ society, or to prevent every possible event that might cause harm”. Further: “the direct and indirect costs imposed by regulatory approaches may not be … immediately obvious. Risk regulation that is poorly targeted or costly will divert resources from other priorities”.
For 15 years I have advised governments in Victoria based on these long-established principles but this time around these principles have been trashed as if they did not exist. There has been no sign in Victoria this time around of risk-based regulation, evidence-based policy or cost-benefit analysis. I must add that epidemiological models do not constitute policy analysis. Policy analysis considers an enormous range of trade-offs and unintended consequences.
I have written 17 articles on my Times of India blog that provide a flavour of an alternative view – at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/seeing-the-invisible/
I am happy to personally brief you should you so wish.