CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

Ms Yvonne Zardani,
State Secretary
Pensioners and Superannuants League

Mr Kevin Cocks,
Queensland Advocacy Incorporated

The Cost of Honest Effort?

I note your reported concerns that determined efforts by a public official to pursue what seems to be the real interests of the community were not well received by the state government and apparently resulted in retribution.

My interpretation of an article in which you were quoted: Queensland’s Public Advocate (Ian Boardman) has been given his marching orders. The job requires criticising the government when appropriate - but then the government doesn’t like this criticism (according to Yvonne Zardani - Pensioners and Superannuants League). Boardman’s pursuit of good policy for impaired people had been vigorous - and thus not politically popular according to Kevin Cocks (Queensland Advocacy Incorporated). In 2004 Boardman presented a paper on anti-democratic history of Queensland (scrapping of upper-house; gerrymander; and punitive nature of Queensland’s policy and bureaucracy) (Wenham M. ‘Victim of a sick democracy’, Courier Mail, 7/2/06).

As Margaret Wenham's article implies there is unfortunately nothing unusual about such such events. The incidence of such abuses first escalated in the early 1990s when Westminster tradition of an independent and professional Public Service was abandoned (see Outline of the history of the Westminster tradition's breakdown in Queensland and of the growth of Public Service bullying).

The consequences have not merely been injustices to individuals but also a dramatic decline in the effectiveness of public administration (eg as illustrated by dysfunctions cited in The Growing Case for a Professional Public Service - of which publicly prominent crises such as in Energex, Family Services and Queensland Health are merely the tip of an iceberg).

Some suggestions about how such problems might be resolved are put forward in Improving Public Sector Performance in Queensland . Unfortunately reform is unlikely in the foreseeable future as there seems to a bipartisan preference for officials who are politically subservient over those who are professionally competent (see Queensland's Opposition seems Equally Guilty).


John Craig