Search This Blog

Friday, December 01, 2006

AWB Royal Commission and the public service

Commentary over the last few days about the AWB Royal Commission report includes this opinion piece, "An indictment of politicised bureaucrats" by Ken Davidson in the Age who says that more open government and genuine accountability to Parliament and through effective FOI legislation is necessary if we are to avoid more and more administrative scandals and cover-ups; and this piece by Piers Ackerman in the Daily Telegraph "Against Labor's grain", who dismisses the entire process as a waste of time and money and an exercise in "self-indulgent moral grandstanding". According to Piers, even those poor old diplomats in Foreign Affairs were deceived by AWB executives who, after all, were simply doing what everyone did to flog their wares overseas.

Piers should defer in this area to someone with a bit more expertise about the way government works or should work, someone like Verona Burgess who writes "Government business" in the Australian Financial Review each Friday. Her column to-day includes the following:
"DFAT in disgrace". The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's so-called "post box" defence in the AWB affair may have been accepted by Commissioner Terence Cole within his view of what constituted "actual knowledge" of the Commonwealth, but there is no doubt about where it stands in the court of public opinion, including senior public service opinion. The long litany of sins of omission on the part of DFAT and the Wheat Export Authority are widely being read as yet another disgraceful chapter in the story of Prime Minister John Howard's public service.

"Worth Special Recognition". One colleague suggests that DFAT merits a special "state of the service" award for its ability to: ignore 35 separate indications of wrong doing and report that all's well; to keep an entire cabinet so completely in the dark that they even blink convincingly under a spot light; and to face with equanimity the shredding of its reputation, apparently in order to keep intact the cover of its ministers"
Just another of the usual suspects Piers?

No comments:

Post a Comment