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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Beattie enigma: a "media tart" with poor record on transparency

The resignation of self confessed "media tart", Queensland Premier Peter Beattie last week, has prompted some reflection on his time in office, and his accomplishments.

In the Courier Mail ethicist Dr. Noel Preston puts the ruler over integrity in office and finds the record "disappointing". Dr. Preston says that Beattie leaves office with a record of undermining democracy and the institutions of government:

"The concerns are real, including: politicisation and bullying in the public service, adverse reports from a previous auditor-general, a perceived weakening of ethical standards in government-owned corporations, compromising the separation of powers in the relationship between the police commissioner and the government, and an inappropriate appointment process for the former information commissioner.

Indeed, it is the continued practice of information control and abuse of Freedom of Information through Cabinet secrecy which is most corrosive of democratic process and transparency".

See our earlier wheelie bin blog on the Queensland Cabinet exemption in FOI

Senior writer with the Mail and adjunct lecturer in the Department of Politics and Public Policy at Griffith University, Dr. Paul Williams, also notes that Beatties's political achievements are clouded by his approach to transparency in government:
"(H)is penchant for "spin" and the control of information.....make a less savoury record. The strangling of Freedom of Information laws is the most often cited, but his total domination of parliamentary and committee processes will also be noted".
Dr. Williams seems to sum up for both:
"These are legacies of which no one should be proud"

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