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Monday, October 20, 2008

NSW steps into 1995

NSW Premier Nathan Rees was right to call the swings of over 20% against the government in by-elections at the weekend a "shellacking", but he did manage to get instructions out to ministers, as promised last week, that their media releases from today must be available on the web, through a link on the relevant agency website.Probably not possible in the few days since the Premier made the commitment,but why not also a central link for all ministerial media releases like this one in Victoria?

But this is trivial stuff compared to what is to come. The Premier said:
"The plan that we put forward over the next month, including the mini-budget, will be fundamentally different to anything the people have seen in NSW before."
It should be more than just an interesting month.The Premier has just lost the head of his department who has quit, and asked government agencies to get rid of 20% of senior public servants- hardly conducive to the sort of behind the scenes work required to produce plans for a "fundamentally different" way forward.He is also about to be joined in Macquarie St by union boss John Robertson who is said to be on the fast track to a ministry. None of this is going to boost morale in an already dispirited and politicised public service which as a result of years of neglect, lacks the leadership and skills in many quarters essential for modern public management.

And on the accountability front, as we saw last week, the starting point for something "fundamentally different" is that the Secretary of The Treasury says he won't tell a parliamentary committee the date of a document because the Crown Solicitor says he doesn't have to.

Good luck, Premier.

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