The Advertiser

Far from fearless


R. BEST raises an interestin­g question in regard to the apparent lack of “frank and fearless” advice being provided to our politician­s from public servants who “have a long history and knowledge of government administra­tion in particular areas” (“Dumb decisions”, The

Advertiser, 19/6/15). He also makes the observatio­n that “Treasury seems to be running amok with short-term, money-grabbing schemes”.

Might I suggest the utter lack of frank and fearless advice is a very obvious outcome of employing every senior public servant on a fixed-term contract period of employment.

The original Westminste­r concept of “tenure” applied solely to the most senior public servants as the very basis of ensuring they provided advice to the highest level of government that was devoid of any political colouring or pandering.

However, every public servant seems to enjoy “tenure”, apart from those who interact directly with Ministers – the very ones who should have the capacity to provide frank and fearless advice.

Their careers and futures are simply too politicall­y susceptibl­e to the ever-shifting needs of the political, not the rational.

Until this issue is addressed, both R. Best and I can only dream of a public service that really puts the political under the duress of the rational.


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