‘Review Must Include Ministerial Interference’

December 19, 2010

[Written by Kim.Swan, Leader of the Opposition] The civil service review is prudent and the timing good given the recent change in Government. Any steps taken to improve its performance are welcome.

We have been concerned with the leadership and operation of the civil service for quite some time.

It is a fact that the civil service has been abused by Government ministers and its integrity brought into question by their conduct.

One need go no further than the 2008 Auditor General’s report (made public earlier this year) to understand that the problems are deep and that the source of our concerns lies primarily with multiple Ministers who have exercised authoritarian control, often without regard to rules and regulations that civil servants are sworn to uphold. It has been, in many instances, an abusive relationship, characterized by intimidation, interference, callousness and disregard for the public purse.

Consider some of the Auditor General’s findings:

  • Ministers and managers continue to do business with companies that haven’t paid their payroll and pension taxes despite Financial Instructions that prohibit them from doing so.
  • Ministers and managers continue to award contracts without public tendering despite Financial Instructions banning the practice, and which the Auditor said had become “a greater and greater problem…”, and
  • Civil servants who want to report misdeeds and wrongdoings have expressed concerns that they no longer view the Public Service Commission as their protector; that going to it with their concerns would be “useless”, even “dangerous”.

The Auditor was so alarmed by the level and breadth of ministerial interference in the operations of government that he recommended Cabinet Ministers take a seminar in how our Westminster system of government works and a course on good governance in general.

So while we believe the civil service review is in order, particularly in terms of improving efficiencies and productivity, the real focus must be on the Government providing better leadership. If the Premier is serious about this, she should make Cabinet relations with the civil service part of the review.

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Comments (2)

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  1. LOL (original) says:

    As nice as this sounds would anything be done if anything was found. I have no faith in this review.

    LOL

    • Dragging A Lure says:

      LOL (original),

      The Opposition Leader is saying let’s have a witch hunt.