CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

Email sent 23/10/08


Bullying if Staff by Queensland's Politicians .. Really??

Your comments (Crikey 23/10/08) reflect problems that have existed for many years, and been covered up because there seems to be bipartisan acceptance of such practices. Moreover 90% of the problem relates to bullying of those who work for Queensland politicians in other capacities.

Extract from Crikey: Despite what most Australians might think, politics is hard yakka. It’s also unusual in that it is open to all comers, regardless of their capacity to undertake its often-complex tasks, and there’s no direct accountability except every few years at the ballot box.

The people who go to work for politicians know they’re in for a tough job. The hours can be long and constituents can be extremely demanding.

When MPs lack experience, or judgement, or are simply unable to manage people in a manner that most people expect in normal workplaces, a far greater toll can be inflicted. The absence of direct accountability for the way MPs treat their staff contributes to this toll. Few bosses are more powerful than an MP backed by his or her leader and party. The people they bully and harass in the confined workspace of the parliamentary or electorate office have few places to turn.

It is clear that in Queensland, under Labor, there has been widespread abuse of electorate office staff by a number of MPs, and an unwillingness on the part of the Beattie Government to discipline or counsel MPs. Instead, the Queensland taxpayer has forked out millions in compensation payments to staffers whose lives have been damaged or broken by MPs out of control.

It is time for the Bligh Government to acknowledge that some of its current and former MPs have real problems in the way they treat the people who work for them, and that this must be dealt with systemically. The human toll from its continuing culture of denial is too great to continue.

An attempt to get at the root of the broader problem is presented in a 2002 history of the growth of public service bullying which deals with its relationship with the breakdown of the Westminster tradition and with the character of the factions that have dominated the Queensland ALP.

The fact that bullying has been a matter of continued public concern is also illustrated by 2005 documents 'C'mon Pete its time for Action' ; More Silencing and Scapegoating of Public Service Employees?; and Plague of Bullies.

John Craig