As scrutiny grows on the political nature of grants schemes, Coalition MPs are ramping up their attacks on “bureaucrats” in defence of “ministerial discretion”.
“We are the chosen ones” they cry – not those faceless backroom people who just put hurdles in the way of decent folk wanting to have a go. They don’t know what the people want.
Well that’s all very well, but that implies that decisions will be based on what people who have access to the minister want rather than on considered appraisal of different priorities, alternative approaches, and their wider impacts and consequences on other stakeholders.
Ministers have no particular expertise in their portfolios as shown by how often they swap them around and some of the ridiculous appointments, obviously doled out with anything but aptitude in mind.
Yet they want us to trust that they know better than the experts and the people with actual experience in the field and in administration.
This government has decimated and sought to undermine the public service and unions. They have ignored court rulings and been threatened with contempt charges for criticising the courts. They blame the media when they are exposed and hunt down leakers rather than punishing wrongdoers. They block freedom of information requests and refuse to release reports. They regularly and blatantly lie to the public through their preferred tame media outlets.
What qualifies these people to ignore advice and dictate what will happen in every aspect of running this country? Have a look at them. Most of them can’t run their own lives successfully.
Transparency and accountability? Their actions make a mockery of the words. They want to govern without scrutiny or criticism.
For some reason, the “climate change function”, whatever that means, has been taken away from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and transferred to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. It remains to be seen what this will mean but the divorcing of climate change from agriculture, water and the environment seems very strange.
In what can only be described as a complete lack of anything remotely resembling understanding of science, the Nationals are surging forward with calls for more coal mines, more coal-fired power stations, more gas fields.
No amount of adaptation or resilience can prepare us for the holocaust these fools will inflict on us with their addiction to the donations from those who profit from exploiting our resources.
As our rivers dry up and our towns go thirsty, the Nats call for more dams, completely ignoring the damage caused by their handing out of hundreds of millions of dollars to people to build private dams which have destroyed the natural water flow and which are hugely inefficient because they are shallow and evaporate.
This water should have flowed to much deeper catchment dams to supply towns and to be stored and released when appropriate for farmers.
This shocking misuse of public money and mismanagement of water resources has been detailed in a report by the Australia Institute called Dam shame and in a Four Corners report Cash Splash
There has been justifiable criticism of the complexity in applying for disaster relief and the delay in receiving assistance but it has been unfairly targeted at bureaucrats who usually find out what the government is announcing in the Murdoch press and then realise that it is up to them to find a way to put into train a thought bubble with no detail.
Ministerial discretion is the antithesis of evidence-based decision making. As they have shown time and again, and actually admitted, they have no problem in using public money to prop up their political careers – the only excuse offered being that everyone does it.
If you want ministers to have more discretion, you should exercise some in who you entrust with the role. The current bunch are just pigs at the trough.
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