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The false economy of decimating the public service

I sometimes wonder if the real Malcolm Turnbull was kidnapped and replaced by a doppelganger, so different are his actions as Prime Minister to his words before taking on the role.

As we bounce from one outsourcing disaster to the next, it is worth reflecting on what Turnbull himself had to say on outsourcing three months before he staged his coup to take the top job.

“There has been a practice for government to outsource what should be the legitimate work of the public service to consultants. So the public service departments just become, you know, mail boxes for sending out tenders and then receiving the reports and paying for them.

What we have to do in government in my view is stop panning public servants and do more to ensure that they do their job better. And one of the ways to do that is to make sure they do the work that is their core responsibility, as opposed to outsourcing everything.

Of course, that will show up people who aren’t any good too: clearly it’s a lot easier just to send out a brief to McKinsey than it is to actually do the work yourself.

There’s no single answer to this but managing a talented workforce is very, very hard. You’re in the talent business.

The talent is the real asset of the Australian Public Service, so we have got to have a focus on the APS, a respect for the quality and seek to promote and improve the quality of that workforce all the time.

Most people work for the public service as much for the psychic wage as they do for the financial wage. Most of the very smart people in the APS could earn a lot more money somewhere else. One of the things we’ve got to do is respect the public service – respect it, expect more from it, and make sure that it has more challenging and interesting work to do.”

Others have expressed a similar view.

Former head of Turnbull’s Digital Transformation Office, Paul Shetler expressed his view in an article on The Mandarin last month.

Over the last 40 years, as we’ve outsourced technology, there’s been a progressive deskilling of the public service. The reliance on consultants is remarkable and the amount spent on them is eye watering. That’s just not necessary if we re-skill the public service.

Former head of the Productivity Commission, Gary Banks agrees.

He warned former PM Kevin Rudd that the bureaucracy no longer had the expertise to provide the evidence-based policy advice the prime minister was demanding.

Banks bemoaned the decline in the number of public servants with the necessary quantitative and analytical skills. He also warned about the varied quality and motives of the consultants involved in developing policy.

While there were highly professional consultancies, he said, there were also consultants who cut corners, provided superficial reports and second-guessed what ministers wanted to hear. Consultants had different motives to professional public servants, for obvious reasons.

Banks made an interesting suggestion – that consultants’ work be subjected to peer review – but that would require the government to actually release the reports that we pay for, something that is becoming increasingly uncommon. How often do we hear the call “This is a report to government, not by government,” thus abrogating responsibility and accountability – the buck stops nowhere.

I would go further and suggest that any government contracts actually contain penalties for failure to deliver rather than profit protection for the other party as is so often the case.

The job of a Minister used to be to oversee the efficient and effective delivery of the government services but this has changed as Richard Denniss points out.

“the neoliberal obsession with privatising and outsourcing the actual delivery of services to the private sector, combined with enormous growth in the number of taxpayer-funded “personal staff” in ministerial offices, has fundamentally changed the role of minister. Rather than focus on the enormous, if often tedious, job of managing the delivery of essential services, the modern minister is often more interested in “shaking things up”. While identifying room for improvement is part of the job, announcing grand plans to drive future efficiency is no substitute for delivering actual efficiency.

Decades of “efficiency dividends” and other euphemisms for public sector cuts have fundamentally eroded the ability of agencies to deliver basic services. Once upon a time a minister would have raged against the suggestion that cutting their department’s funding would help them “improve efficiency”, but once upon a time ministers would have thought they would be held responsible for failures on their watch. Those days seem long gone. The modern minister embraces the “opportunity” that comes with shedding staff.

For decades we have been told that outsourcing and privatisation would lead to efficiencies that would mean we have more money to provide more services. And for decades we have been told that we need to grow the economy before we can “afford” to treat the elderly with dignity and the disabled with respect. Well, GDP had doubled in the last 20 years and we have outsourced and privatised more thoroughly than most countries … so when will the quality of our public services start to improve?”

We have lost an enormous amount of expertise and experience from the public service who can no longer feel free to give frank and fearless advice and do not have the long term memory of tried and failed experiments. Advice now comes from politicians’ personal staff, their spin team, and their tame consultants who produce reports with the required outcome – for a hefty fee.

Instead of having people who are intimately aware of the services they deliver designing processes, we pay a fortune to private companies who far too often fall short of their promises.

We are all now paying the price for the short-sightedness of decimating the public service for ‘budget repair’ and to avoid being told uncomfortable truths.

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  1. Terry2

    It worries me that with this centrelink claw-back debacle whether the government will now turn on centrelink as being incompetent and inefficient so that these services can be outsourced (i.e. privatised) in the same way that they intended to “outsource” the Medicare payments system to the private sector until Labor sounded the alarm.

    Had they continued with the the Medicare payments outsourcing/privatisation you can almost guarantee that some group like BUPA would have won the tender : voila, privatisation. That’s why the coalition were so touchy when Labor campaigned against Medicare privatisation.

    The mere fact that they have already outsourced the centrelink collections system to Dun & Bradstreet and others shows how these people think.

  2. Steve Laing

    Yet another great article Kaye. Like many, it is increasingly clear that THIS is the real Turnbull and the previous one was the imposter.

    It is increasingly clear that as the quality of politicians decreases, so does their capability to accept advice that might reveal their true ability. Better to get advice from the paid sycophant who will happily tell you whatever you want them to. Having worked for one at the start of my career I know that management consultancies are usually such awful places to work that the best talent leaves to get interesting and rewarding jobs, leaving the butt kissing sloggers to rise to the top – perfect credentials to publish reports for untalented ministers.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Be afwaid, be vewwy afwaid. Be alert AND alarmed.

    September 22, 2016 from the official media outlet of the Coalition – Murdoch’s Australian

    “The $300 billion of public and ­private money spent on human services such as health and housing should be subjected to more competition and privatisation to ­reform the way people support themselves, according to a blueprint being drawn up by the Prod­uctivity Commission.

    The commission’s recommendations, released in a preliminary report today, involve targeting the “priority areas” of public hospital and dental, services for indigenous people in remote areas, grants for family and community services, social housing and palliative care.

    While the report finds that the introduction of competition and contestability “will not be the best reform option for all human ser­vices”, there is a case to be made for governments to step out of the way and encourage providers from the sideline while still guarding standards and quality.”

    Guarding standards and quality? Just like they did with the vocational education sector? And the offshore detention centres?

  4. Florence nee Fedup

    I agree. we will find the department had no input into latest disasters. Furthermore unless they wake up, there will be many more.

    One only has to watch senate hearings to realise how little the PS has to do with this govt. They sit like idiots, knowing nothing.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Don’t forget this mob proudly said welfare will now be data driven.Whatever that means. Something to do with NZ model. It definitely has nothing to do with people, whether client or behind the counter. They have been taken out of the equation.

    What were those 70 jobs, 35 all connected to Liberal Party Brandis appointed directly on last day of last government. Something to do with appeals and commissioners.

    Something stinks in their paradise.

  6. Miriam English

    OMG! They’re going to use the stuff-up deliberately orchestrated by the government to privatise social security.
    Evil bastards!!!
    Don’t they realise how badly that works in USA???

    Haven’t they noticed the ineffectiveness of the private companies handling jobseekers now and the astronomical sums of money they’re sucking from the public purse? The old Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) was many times more effective at a tiny fraction of the cost.

    It’s all about the ideology. Screw reality. Jesus! What idiots.

  7. Matters Not

    While the roles played by Ministers are in a constant state of flux, there are a few which must remain constant if the Minister is to be successful. First, the Minister is the public face of a Department (and the Government more generally) and therefore needs to understand what policies are being pursued and why. That role requires a Minister who will do the ‘homework’ – ask questions, engage in debate, propose alternatives, seek advice and the like. Because Ministers are usually ‘outsiders’ – lacking expertise, experience, knowledge and so on – that requires hard work, regardless of their intellectual capabilities. There are no shortcuts. Disaster is only a microphone away.

    The second role a Minister must fulfill is within government itself. A Minister must be a powerful political player within Cabinet itself and in particular the Expenditure Review Committee. There, they must be willing and able to do the ‘heavy lifting’, because without the dollars a Minister is reduced to impotency. Again ‘lobbying’ is required, factional allies must be tapped, speeches must be made – importantly the Chair of the ERC must be convinced.

    While one could go on and on, outside consultancies have no part to play in those two roles. Without competent Public Servants, Ministers tend to serve for only a short term.

  8. kerri

    As Laura Tingle explained in a Quarterly Essay last year! The loss of expertise that goes with this job shedding is slowly destroying the public service. Not to mention the unbelievable bias shown by many in the PS.
    Terry2 you are probably correct!
    Screw it up then claim industry will manage it better!

  9. Kim Southwood

    Turnbull sincerely wanted that top job. As LNP leader Abbott was widely ridiculed especially by swinging Liberal supporters. Turnbull saw his opportunity to gain party favour by winning back the swingers. Consummate in winning a debate whether he was ‘for’ or ‘against’, he even had some lefties applauding him. It was all for the top job.

    Even back then I found his rhetoric wincingly insincere. He might be saying exactly what I believed was true, but I always saw that ulterior motive driving him… and quietly fumed as others cheered. But it would have been nice if he’d meant it.

    I so much agree in the integrity and value of a non-partisan tax-payer funded public service. Their initial screening would focus on appropriate prior learning, their capacity to work in a team and, above all, their capacity to learn about the public and the need they are serving. But that’s just common sense. Maybe it’s what Malcolm means by “talent”, but that’s a word I associate more with Trumpy TV shows.

    In his quote above, Malcolm sheds light on the APS worker’s joy in the ‘psychic wage’ as opposed to ‘financial wage’. [Inference: these guys love their job so much they’d sacrifice better paid opportunities]. Hmmm… not my broader experience as a public servant in the APS.

    Then he reverts to our need to “respect [the public service]…, expect more from it, and make sure that it has more challenging and interesting work to do.” He’s a guy who loves to hedge his bets and please everyone… as long as he can squirrel away exactly what he’s after.

    Of course he wants “to ensure that they do their job better. And one of the ways to do that is to make sure they do the work that is their core responsibility, as opposed to outsourcing everything.” So clearly the APS isn’t meeting his exacting standards and, like Tony Abbott, its workers are being increasingly outsourced.

    Can we outsource Turnbull and the LNP… please!

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    MN prompted this thought from me.

    Ministers should be held to a higher standard similar to a company director (even though a Minister is far more important).

    In Corporate Law, if a director has failed to become informed about a company decision and it is found that that decision was not in the best interests of the company, then that director could be exposing her/himself to prosecution.

    The same consequences should readily be imposed on lazy ministers who would rather prance around in front of the cameras pretending to earn their large salaries and parliamentary pensions.

  11. paulwalter

    So desolate regarding it and then replying when nutters like the PM are so deeply wedded to this “efficency dividend” tripe.

    Very hard to comment further too angry.

  12. Kaye Lee

    My husband taped the cricket because he was at work. He just called me over to listen to Malcolm Turnbull in the commentary box. When asked by Mark Taylor if he was enjoying it, Malcolm responded “There may have been better Prime Ministers but none that have enjoyed it more”.

    I think he was talking about the cricket Malcolm. Self-absorbed- moi?

  13. king1394

    The growth in reliance on consultants’ reports extends down to local Councils. As staff come and go, they have little corporate memory and frequently no local knowledge, so complete balderdash can be presented by consultants without query. I have seen listed environmental weeds suggested as suitable landscape species for local sportsgrounds, and very second-rate historical background to localities in documents that my local council relies upon. One of the most annoying was a $7000 study which had many so typos and entire sentences of gobbledegook, that a Community members’ Committee had to undertake proof-reading and corrections.

  14. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    That resonates with my experience, king1394

  15. Miriam English

    Jennifer, prosecuting ministers who fail to do their job might get a better quality of person in the job. Morons wouldn’t dare put their hand up for a job because they’d know they couldn’t just idle by — they’d instead end up humiliated and stripped of funds, possibly even benefits. We wouldn’t have idiots like Barnaby Joyce, George Christensen, that halfwit Cory Bernardi, or that impossibly stupid fool Malcolm Roberts. On the other hand we could end up with very smart and efficient sociopaths.

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Miriam,

    we would be far better off, even if included amongst them, were some other smart and efficient sociopaths to try their hand. Such types already operate in parliament anyway.

  17. Gangey1959

    Why don’t we start at the very top and just privatise parliament, and see in reality how much can be achieved by how few for how little.
    Then Australians might wake up to the fact that if we want OUR country to be the way WE want it WE are going to have to stop sitting on our apathetic whining backsides and start kicking some physical arses, starting with the people who put us into the position we currentlky find ourselves. There is no point going down and shouting at the Centerlink ladies. They are doing their best. The centerlink men don’t give a crap any more and still think they are on the fast track upwards(ROFLMAO).
    Start with your local pollie, and the pm, and bananarby, and moronscum et al. They all have websites.
    Put AMIN on YOUR facebook page as a page for all your friends to see, and look at. It’s more fun than pussy pics.
    Take a leaf from the ”beesty boyz”. We gotta fight for our right to party.
    Otherwise we’re all screwed.

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Everybody agrees, Gangey.

    Some are already doing such stuff.

  19. kerri

    Sadly Miriam and Jennifer, I believe the ministers who stuff up the most, are those with the most self belief.
    As a consequence they totally fail to recognise their own stupidity and their own failures and their own lack of performance. Porter is a good example! His judgement that the Centrelink extortion campaign is a roaring success is clearly based on the funds, as yet promised, by the terrified and threatened welfare recipients.
    No mention of the accuracy of the charges! If you are on welfare you are a cheat by definition!
    Accuracy is irrelevant in the eyes of these glorified accountants! These people judge success because they expect their actions will result in success. They are hard wired (via an enormous ego) to believe in their own success. They will fiddle results and ignore anything contrary to self affirm work well done!
    The delusion is complete! Dunning -Kruger!
    Of course there is always the ugly possibility the arsehats are deliberately setting up Centrelink to fail so that some LNP donor can snap up the contract at a steal! As for Turnbull? Seriously I just don’t get how people can’t see through the crap??
    I don’t know about you but I look at the LNP upandcomers and the egocentric personalities shine through?
    Matthew Canvan is a classic. No heart no soul punitive to the nth degree.
    Cormann was the same. Frydenberg also! Morrison is a sociopath! Wyatt Roy could have been very dangerous but for some incredibly sensible constituents. They bluff and charm and lie and cheat and the sheeple keep voting them in and swallowing line, hook and sinker.
    How about Pyne? He sends birthday cards to his older constituents and the old dearies fall for such a nice young man!
    Australia needs to wake up before we end up like so many other crap countries.
    GANGEY You are a man of dangerous ideas!!

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    you are a woman of brave statements (even if I will argue with some of them at another time!).

    Kudos to brave souls who call a spade a shovel.

  21. kerri

    Thanks Jennifer!
    I appreciate so many of the ideas aired on the AIMN but cannot for the life of me comprehend the stupidity of the average voter?

  22. Kaye Lee

    Christian Porter gave his first address to the National Press Club to present his “actuarial data” from PwC in late September.

    “There is nothing morally superior about welfare structures that are passively allocating money in a way that corrodes the recipients’ chances of experiencing the meaning, the engagement and the purpose that work brings to all of our lives. This now brings me to the priority investment approach, as a very significant, maybe close to revolutionary, new direction in welfare reform.

    The Coalition Government, the Turnbull Government, will provide the funding, we will provide the data, we will provide the tailored metrics against which success and failure will be measured, the fund will be BYO ideas,” Mr Porter said. “Mutual obligation must be a cornerstone of any working age payment redesign and the central obligation should obviously be the requirement to prepare for, to search for and to accept work.”

    So I hope everyone feels reassured by Porter’s babble. Luckily he doesn’t have to actually achieve anything – he has a very expensive report and he knows how to use it. As for actual ideas or, god forbid, achievements….not so much.

  23. wam

    gangey you are on something trump has privatised parliament not something we want.
    Kerri you simply describe men influenced by power. as for pollies you will just get emails spammed and cut out of facebook
    why is there no visible attacks by labor? Why is there not large signs in the windows of labor offices and human billboards outside coalition offices
    women why do you accept a god who encourages men to murder and rewards them in heaven?
    After porter’s press club effort he has had to shave his palm every day. He will hopefully have geoffrey robertson on his case when the centrelink shit hits the fan

  24. Florence nee Fedup

    There was a phrase I heard much as a young person. A phrase used to condemn Labor and those further to the left. One in my opinion held no truth up to now, “Social engineering”.

    Under Howard and taken to a fine art by Abbott, then Turnbull, our society has been changed in ways very few of us could ever imagine. I wonder how they have got away with it.

    Gone is any semblance of a civil fair and just society. That is somehow the wrong thing to create. One where community takes pride in supporting one another. One where the vulnerable are looked after.

    They have even created a Christain Church where God holds those who managed to gather to themselves great wealth as admirable. No longer is it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God or Jesus at the Temple – Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money. This according to present neoliberal ideology no longer the case.

    In fact today those who are poor, disabled or vulnerable are responsible for their own plight. They bring the ills they endure on themselves.

    In fact in a modern society they must be left to whither on the vine. To help in any way only encourages them, makes one weak.

    There is only one god. That is money that can only be accrued under the capitalist system. Man is only here to serve that god. Money and power defines who we are.

    I don’t like the new world, society they are engineering. I liked the old one where we respected one another, where we could rely on one another. Where kindness and love ruled over cruelty and hate.

    They are misguided as pure capitalism relies on boom and bust. After every boom, there comes the bust. A new boom rises out of the bust of the previous boom. Always has. There is a better way. We are in process of throwing it away.

    I have little time for religion but none for the one they gave created for themselves today. One where the rich man reigns supreme. Where blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    I wonder Why does the Bible so strongly condemn self-righteousness?

    Have no idea how they reconciled it with the bible. But then those on the right used a language where words no longer mean what we understand them too.

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    Kaye “Mutual obligation must be a cornerstone of any working age payment redesign and the central obligation should obviously be the requirement to prepare for, to search for and to accept work.” is a two way street which none on that side of the street understand.

  26. Florence nee Fedup

    This is how I see this government.

    self-righteous – Dictionary Definition :
    Join the Old English words self, meaning “one’s own person,” and rightwise, meaning “virtuous,” and you’ve got somebody who thinks very highly of their own morality. A self-righteous person thinks they can do no wrong, and goes about with a “holier-than-thou” attitude, judging and scrutinizing everyone else.

  27. paulwalter

    Florence uses the term self righteous.

    Kaye Lee mentioned a pompous speech from the poodle Xtian Porter, moralisng on ” mutual obligation”, the unemployed in their sloth brought to humble boot-licking gratitude of the born to rule,, but what experience would an opinionated preppie like Porter have of the everyday lived experiences of the unemployed suburbanite living out here in the real world.

    Jennifer Wilson linked at “Sheep”to a good piece from the Guardian of a person’s experience within this earthly paradise that Porter feels he has bestowed, in his rubbish presented via Kaye Lee

    How on earth does putting people through stuff like described in that piece, as jobs are offshored or fed out to 457 visa holders in a nation when the actual unemployment figures are fudged (Tudged?) through government policy, as Xenophon mentioned today?

    “Mutual obligation” , in the light of employment policy in the economic rationalist era is a cruel joke.?

    It would be rofl if it were not so obscene.

    And isn’t this before readers even start to contemplate the indulgent treatment of corporate and individual tax dodgers, running to tens of $billions?

  28. Miriam English

    Florence, the Bible is quite schizophrenic. It teaches that people should give away all their riches to the poor, but God shows those he favors by making them rich. The poor are to be helped, but the poor are waste. You should defer to priests, but there should be no man between a person and their god. The book doesn’t make sense.

    People can pick and choose whatever they want from it. Want to justify a terrible crime? Sure, that justification is in there. Want to punish a person for a terrible crime? No worries. You can find a way for that in there. Want to find a reason to forgive horrible crimes? That’s in there too.

    Right-wing Conservative Christians follow the Old Testament (well, parts of it) and Paul in the New Testament.

    A progressive Christian ignores the repellent Old Testament and crazy Paul in the New Testament, and follows the words of Jesus — the Christ they’re named after.

    How I wish flaky old Paul’s books never made it into the Bible. And they should have dropped the Old Testament, with all its killing and looting, and raping condoned by its lunatic god. Losing John’s hallucinatory, bloodthirsty Revelations in the New Testament would have been a good idea too. They would have been left with a much smaller book, but much gentler and far more moral.

    It would have been an even better book if Pelagius’ writings had been included instead of that nutter Paul’s. Pelagius emphasised doing good for those around you rather than attending church, and he argued against the doctrine of original sin. Naturally the leaders of the church called him a heretic.

  29. Florence nee Fedup

    Miriam, I was raised as a Catholic. They don’t put that much interest in the bible except for excerpts from the gospels.

    I agree, many interpret, manipulate the bible to suit their own interests. I would say the same, but will be howled down as do ISIS/L followers do the Koran. Believe what suits them.

    The right has moved on from the The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate to demonising the poor. We would never have had the Protestants churches only for the industrial revolution and capitalism. The RC demand too much power for itself to suit the money men. More in step with kings and Monarchs.

    Christian churches during the time the west colonised many countries had their martyrs (missionaries) that were guarantee entrance to heaven. Is it much different to ISIS and their promises of heaven and virgins?

    Sorry, I am in a very cynical mood at this time.

  30. Kaye Lee

    The man handpicked by Malcolm Turnbull to head the government’s digital transformation has said the error rate in Centrelink’s data-matching process is so unfathomably high that it would send a commercial enterprise out of business.

    Paul Shetler, the former digital transformation office head, criticised the government’s response to its latest IT crisis, telling Guardian Australia it was symptomatic of a culture of blame aversion within the bureaucracy.

    “It is literally blame aversion, it is not risk aversion,” Shetler said. “They’re trying to avoid the blame, and they’re trying to cast it wide.

    “The justifications that have been given I think are just another example of the culture of ‘good news’, reporting only good news up through the bureaucracy.

    “I’m sure that the bureaucracy was being told at every single level that everything was OK.

    “That’s how it works in the bureaucracy. Bad news is not welcomed, and when bad news comes, they try to shift the blame.”

    He said it was difficult for him to watch successive IT failures, which he described as “cataclysmic” and “not a crisis of IT” but a “crisis of government”.

    “I said when I came in that this would be happening, I said this was already happening, I said it was unacceptable and I made that case the entire time I was at the DTO [digital transformation office], and the DTA [digital transformation agency],” he said.

    “I was very explicit about it internally, not nearly as much so externally. It was a fight that I fought from day one, not an easy fight to win, because you’ve got an entire bureaucracy of IT bureaucrats who are backed by large vendors, who have large numbers of staff, and because ministers, I’m going out on a limb here, very quickly become captive to the departments that they deal with.”

    Shetler said the consequences of the failures of the Centrelink system were different from problems with the census or the ATO because they were felt by those least able to deal with it.

    He said data-matching systems must have human oversight to deal with mistakes.

    “The way they did it, obviously it’s dangerous, because their algorithms are flawed in the first place,” Shetler said.

    “All I can say is, if they were a commercial company, you would go out of business, with a 20% failure rate, a known 20% failure rate, you would go out of business, any other kind of matching service would,” he said.

    “Come on. Could you imagine the stock exchange doing that? Could you imagine Amazon, Apple or a bank doing that? An insurance company doing that?

    “It’s just unfathomable, and yet government thinks it can do that.

    “This is the real problem. Government needs to be less arrogant. You’ve got senior public servants there who are drawing private sector salaries, but they’re not holding themselves to the same standard.”

  31. Michelle Petrat

    BTW, Belgium went entirely without government for more than 2 years. Only 2 things were noticeable, absence of ideology and business as usual.

    We don’t need this government. Indeed, they are dangerous and systematically dismantle all that is/was good about Australia.

  32. helvityni

    Michelle, I did not know it lasted that long…

    We would certainly do better without this Government.

  33. Matters Not

    KL, I see Paul Shetler is a bit of a mover – that is, he wasn’t up to his first appointment in Australia and didn’t last long in his next position – a job created especially to match his (supposed) talents. I know – he ‘moved’ because it was someone else’s fault. Twice! He has the perfect batting record.

    I notice also he was careful to cite Amazon and Apple as shining examples of tech companies – while ignoring the disasters generated by IBM at both the State and Federal levels (on any number of occasions). As for the ‘standards’ of the private sector? Please.

    Mr Shetler might have been better advised to keep his head down, particularly when he was replaced by a public servant. She would have a smile on her face after reading that.

  34. Steve Laing -

    Whatever Shetler may be, he is totally correct in his statement regarding error rates. A rate that high would never be acceptable in any commercial situation, as the cost of dealing with each case would quickly outweigh any advantage received. A 1% error rate would likely be deemed unacceptable, particularly given that we are including people who may already be under the poverty line, have disability and/or mental illness. How threatening letters will help anyone in this situation just beggars belief. Heads would roll without doubt. Which points clearly to the fact that the intention was from the start to scare those who received the letters to just agree with them, and underlines that for the Coalition its never about people it is always about money.

    I truly hope that this is Malcolm’s Workchoices moment.

  35. Florence nee Fedup

    He is correct when he said government is run blame culture that accepts no responsibility. PM acts more a observer than the one in charge

  36. Matters Not

    Just watched Albo, accompanied by two ‘victims’ whose stories go back years. Albo backed up calls made by Linda Burney for the Auditor General to investigate this fiasco. A good political move.

    One thing the Public Service does well is to create an ‘Audit trail’. There must be any number of documents that went up (and down) the line pointing out all the risks involved in this type of activity. It’s almost inconceivable that the Minister(s) responsible (always difficult to establish who does what in this government) weren’t warned. Weren’t made aware of the risks involved and, if they weren’t, then heads should roll.

    On the other hand, if the Minister(s), being fully aware, decided to ‘risk it’ (in their ideological quest to snare some ‘bludgers’), then they also must be called to account. The fact is there will be documents, dated and signed, which can add colour to what is currently a blank canvas.

    Also Ley, the Health Minister has some questions to answer re her ‘unplanned purchase’. You know, I was just passing by and on a spur of the moment I bought a Unit at Main Beach (adjoining beach to Surfers Paradise)). One suspects one of the ongoing items on the Cabinet Meeting Agenda is – Investment Properties – where to buy on a whim and a prayer. Dutton would lead the discussion. Should imagine it’s on the Monkey Pod agenda as well.

    Good to know that their minds are always on the job.

  37. Florence nee Fedup

    Seems she bought it off a LNP donor not after passing seeing for sale sign. Not first in area. Negatived geared???

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