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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shortcomings in standards of government

There is plenty to read about the final report of the Cole Royal Commission. Its 5 volumes come down to findings of potential criminality for a raft of senior AWB executives, but ministers and public servants are in the clear. Their "we knew nothing" stories were accepted by the Royal Commissioner.

Several commentators have suggested that while the Royal Commission found no illegality in the conduct of ministers or public servants, it might have been a different story if the terms of reference were also to look at neglect, stupidity or naivete in the conduct of those responsible for foreign affairs and trade.

Patrick Weller is a distinguished Australian academic and an expert on the operations of government. His column today in the Australian "The system is crook" says that the whole affair raises major concerns about public administration and ministerial responsibility and accountability. At the very least there are major shortcomings that the Howard Government should address, once it recovers from self congratulation over the Royal Commissioner's findings.

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