Lately Scott Morrison has started praising the “quiet Australians” as being those for whom he is governing. Obviously if you say anything you’re not one of those quiet ones and can therefore be ignored.
Apparently, the quiet Australians have lost faith in the public service. How Scottie knows this is anybody’s guess because the quiet ones don’t say anything which is their great appeal. Maybe the “strong minority” in the Coalition government has been telling him what the quiet Australians actually think because they know things that ordinary people can only understand through listening to what people say whereas the Craig Kelly’s of this world know things without either talking to people or reading reports.
So Scottie told the Public Service
“Only those who have put their name on a ballot can truly understand the significance of that accountability. I know you might feel sometimes that you are absolutely right in what you are suggesting, but I can tell you when it is you that is facing the public and must look your constituents in the eye, it gives you a unique perspective.”
Well, it got me thinking. And then I started to imagine what it would be like if public servants behaved more like politicians. Would it be something like this?
Minister: Congratulations on your promotion.
Public Servant: Thank you very much. Great to be here.
Minister: So, why did your predecessor resign suddenly?
Public Servant: Sir. I had nothing to do with his resignation. It became clear that the government were no longer supporting the previous Public Servant. In that context and I had nothing to do with his resignation and any suggestion that I plotted it is just offensive…
Minister: I was merely asking. I was just wondering if it was because of some clash of..
Public Servant: If you’d allow me to finish, I was just making the point that this was nothing to do with me and frankly I find your question offensive!
Minister: Anyway, that’s not why you’re here, I was wondering…
Public Servant: No, but it is why I’m here. It’s because my predecessor resigned and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be here, so you’ve completely missed the point.
Minister: Let’s move on. This is about the proposed changes to pensions.
Public Servant: But I think that it’s important to acknowledge that I had nothing to do with my predecessor’s removal. My hands are clean. Look at them. I’ve washed them several times and there is absolutely no blood on them. I’m here now and this is a great honour, but it’s time to get on with things and not live in the past; the line has been ruled on those issues of several weeks ago, which I accept were deeply troubling to Australians. But what they want to know now is; ‘where are we going?
Minister: Which brings me to the pension changes. Do we have the modelling on the proposed changes?
Public Servant: If I may be candid, the modelling was meant to be done by my predecessor and, let’s be clear here, he was a Labor appointee and he really didn’t know how to manage the department, so it’s really lucky that I’m here now and you’ve got an adult in charge. There are important responsibilities that Australians expect and they expect things to happen, and I intend to make them happen.
Minister: So you have the modelling?
Public Servant: No, but equally the modelling that I will have in the very near future will be much, much better than any modelling we’ve had in the past.
Minister: Why is that? Are you suggesting that your modelling will be more accurate?
Public Servant: No, I’m suggesting it’ll be closer to what you want it to say… those Labor hacks just kept letting little things like expected changes to get in the way of more positive prognostications.
Minister: That’s all well and good, but how soon will you have the actual modelling?
Public Servant: Well, if I may be permitted to quote Menzies who, I think we can agree was not only the founder of the party, but a great PM… a veritable colossus. Menzies was a very witty man and he once said that time was something that we all need more of, but then so it money, hence the expression, “Time is money!”
Minister: Menzies said that?
Public Servant: I have no evidence that he didn’t.
Minister: So you’re telling me that the modelling won’t be available for the Cabinet meeting tomorrow?
Public Servant: Sorry, but I don’t think that’s a fair representation of what I said… Or didn’t say… as the case may be… or not…
Minister: WILL I HAVE THE FUCKING THING OR NOT!
Public Servant: I don’t think it’s necessary to speak like that
Minister: Sorry, but I just want a clear answer.
Public Servant: I don’t think I could be any clearer.
Minister: Just go away…
Public Servant: Hey, if I was actually a politician you’d thank me for my time
Minister (sighs): Ok, thank you very much for your time.
Public Servant: Thanks a lot. It’s been my pleasure!
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