CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

Email sent 10/6/09

Ross Fitzgerald

The Emergence of Ineffectual Government

Re: Dr Death and Mr Rudd, The Australian, 10/6/09

While your article primarily concerned the prime minister's (potentially 'nasty') alter ego, it also mentioned his central role in the Goss Government in Queensland and in the wreckage of that state's Public Service. As you noted:

"Labor in Queensland 20 years ago swept into office on a wave of desire for change. But though it promised much it delivered little. Rudd left in 1994, just when the wheels were beginning to come off the Goss Government, ...... "

However the problem was not just the failure of the Goss Government to actually achieve much while Mr Rudd "provided the guidance [to the then premier], kicked in the motive power, and pointed out the best breaks".

The bigger problem is that subsequent Queensland Governments have experienced repeated crises because of the Goss Government's legacy (ie defective machinery of government and a Public Service built on the shaky foundation of ineptitude and unresolved injustice). These problems have been documented over the years, though no political leader has yet publicly raised the possibility that the Goss Government's 'managerialism' and 'commercialization' had merely compounded weaknesses that had existed because of political neglect of public administration in the 1980s (eg see Reform of Queensland Institutions - or a Rising Tide of Public Hypocrisy?).

The 'chickens may now be coming home to roost' for Queensland because the global financial crisis is revealing the exposed budgetary position that has been emerging for years partly as a result of ineffectual management of massive catch-up spending on infrastructure (see Queensland's 2009-10 Budget Stress: The Tip of an Iceberg?).

However there is little to be gained by focussing on any individual's contribution to this mess, as similar defects apparently emerged in other governments as a result of poorly-considered attempts at reform two decades ago (see Decay of Australian Public Administration and It's time to fix the failed state), and there seem to be many challenges facing Australia's system of government that have not yet received serious attention (see Australia's Governance Crisis).

I would be interested in your views about these matters.

John Craig