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Public Sector Informant : PSI - September
Building Management & Leadership Capability in the Australian Public Sector Other CPM programs Other public programs offered by CPM include: . . . . www.cpm.org.au. 2010 Executive Level programs CPM s range of residential programs for ELs includes: . . . . www.cpm.org.au. The Centre for Public Management (CPM) specialises in the development and delivery of residential management and leadership programs for the public sector. We are a group of thirteen senior consultants with extensive experience across the public sector. [SEPTEMBER 2010] 4 THE PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMANT [POLITICS:PADDY GOURLEY] Pork barrelling The Independent MPs' initial demands herald new lows for accountable government The steep price of 'stable' government To be fair, this column needs to begin with a warning: much of it contains material that may offend some readers as it adds to the huge amount of public whinging about the recent federal election and its aftermath. Those who have had more of that than they can stomach should turn to the sports and cartoon pages, or those wistful columns of reminiscence by Jack Waterford, in which he disinters bygone fancies from his childhood in dusty Goodooga. So let's get it over and done with. The pre-election omens were not promising. On July 15, The Aus- tralian's political ''sage'', Dennis Shanahan, wrote, ''Despite frenzied media speculation and heavy betting with bookmakers targeting Augu- st 21, an election is most likely either on the following Saturday or in mid- September, even perhaps as late as mid-October.'' Despite Shanahan's prediction, on July 17, prime minister Julia Gillard announced that the election would be held on August 21. In doing so, Gillard said the motif for the ALP's campaign would be ''mov- ing forward''. It was the first of several blunders that were to dog her campaign and see Labor's numbers in the House of Representatives move backwards from 83 to 72. While it is easy to overestimate the effect campaigns have on election results, Gillard might have avoided some of her reverse if she had: Decided not to speak to voters in the horrible cliches that now debase so much political discussion. Offered something real on climate change, not a ''citizens' assembly'' that will only produce more hot air. More clearly and forcefully ex- plained that a measure of public debt is a good thing and that it is fair and proper for governments to use debt in the public interest, just as most companies do to advance their private interests. Realised that gratitude is a scarce commodity in politics and did not rely so heavily on the virtues of the government's stimulus spending to promote her credentials. Been prepared to look more like a leader on the asylum-seeker boats rather than caving in to prejudices that allow some people to think that these boats are what they are not: a significant threat to the country's security and integrity. As Gillard's cause was set back, opposition leader Tony Abbott's ''moved forward'' to the extent that conservative forces could claim a small majority in the lower house. Abbott ran a more disciplined cam- paign than many thought him capable of. As a person shrewd enough not to be consistent in his beliefs, he was able to say he would stop the ''big new taxes'' while promising ''a big new tax'' to fund a maternity leave scheme to which he was once strenuously opposed. He was also successfully able to exploit exaggerated community app- rehensions about government debt, waste and ''the boats''. And he did not hesitate, with some justification, to lash the government for its ''spin'', leaving spectators to marvel at his Shane Warne-like record for such shenanigans. Together, Gillard and Abbott were able to spread further that great pox on the body politic: the lavish distribution of pork in marginal electorates. These are the places to live for those keen on getting more than a fair share of the taxation pie. Governing in the even-handed in- terests of all citizens appears to be less important. Once it was dams and roads; now the spread is more blatant, particular and insidious. So to the Independents. They, of course, ended up with Gillard's and Abbott's fate in their hands and quite naturally they milked their new celebrity for all it was worth. In varying degrees, they are looking for favoured treatment for their elec- torates and they will no doubt continue to do so after the next government has been sworn in. Kennedy's MP, Bob Katter, says, ''I live in a paradigm of North Queensland and I'll be voting for North Queensland.'' He's not favoured the public with any costs for his log of claims, but it must run well into the billions. At the other end of the country the Member for Denison, Andrew Wil- kie, has submitted a wish-list to both major parties containing his hopes for tonnes more pork for his electorate and Tasmania. Wilkie has now re-
PSI - October