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Letter + Attachments
10 August 2004
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
I refer to our conversation earlier today, and attach a copy of the letter from the Ombudsman dated 10 March 1993 which clearly pointed to the fact that professional merit was not a necessary consideration in making senior Public Service appointments.
The Ombudsman's argument was that because the state had decided (by legislation) to block appeals against SES appointments, it was correct not to consider the merits of my application in the context of a fair treatment appeal - because doing otherwise would have turned that appeal into a defacto appointment appeal.
Though there were very dubious aspects to this (outlined in the postscript below), the logic of the Ombudsman's argument is that professional merit did not have to be considered in relation to my fair treatment appeal, because legislation prevented appeals against SES appointments on any basis.
This conclusion is, of course, devastating for the professional credibility of the Public Service because it means that professional merit was not a necessary consideration in relation to any SES appointment, because appeals were blocked by legislation in all such cases.
I would be happy to see you make any use of this material which you see fit that would advance the cause of restoring a professional basis for Public Service in Queensland.
PS: The Ombudsman's determination was extremely dubious because:
10 March 1993
I refer to your letter of 24 February last following upon your discussion with Messrs King and Gear of this Office on 28 January last.
Whilst a number of issues were raised in the course of this Office's investigations of your complaint, the core issue involved the fact that no appeal was available to you in respect of your failure to obtain an interview for and/or appointment to a particular SES position for which you had applied within the Premiers Department. Associated with this was the fact that in conducting a fair treatment appeal the Commissioner for Public Sector Equity would not consider your merits vis-a-vis the selection criteria for the position in question.
As indicated to you, the State Government has decided that appeals will not lie in respect of appointments to SES positions. That is a legislative decision. It is not a matter of administrative discretion and there is no unfair administrative action that I can point to that would enable me to make adverse comment on the legislation pursuant to Section 24(2)(d) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1974.
In other words the absence of an appeal is a matter of legislation. It is not the result of an administrative action, and therefore I cannot investigate it.
As regards the refusal of the Commissioner of Public Sector Equity to consider the merits of your application for the position within the context of a fair treatment appeal, I believe this decision was correct. To do otherwise, ie to consider the merit of your application, would be to convert a fair treatment appeal into a defacto appointment appeal.
In the circumstances I am unable to assess your suitability for the position. As to whether the legislation should be changed to allow appeals in respect of appointments to SES positions, that is a matter for the Government to decide.
F N Albietz
Letter to Deputy Ombudsman
24 February 1993
Mr F. T. King
I refer to our meeting on 28th January 1993 to discuss complaints which I raised about actions of the Department of the Premier, Economic and trade Development.
As indicated on that occasion, I intend to bring the issue to the attention of Members of Parliament and to quote your conclusions in doing so. Accordingly I enclose a draft of this material in which my understanding of your main conclusions is outlined. I would appreciate it if you could notify me if this is not a correct interpretation.
I also recall that it was indicated that the Parliamentary Commissioner's response to matters raised in my complaints would be put in writing. I do not yet appear to have received these.
|Follow-up No 1||
23 December 2004
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
As you will recall we discussed the dismissive response of 7 June 2004 from the Acting Public Service Commissioner to your representations regarding a dispute which arose from the Premier's Department's refusal to allow professional merit to be considered in relation to the making of a senior Public Service appointment.
It was my contention, as set out in my letters of 15 and 17 June 2004, that his claims (ie that the matter had been frequently and properly investigated) were completely false. For example, even though a vast amount of waffle has been written, neither the Premier's Department nor the Office of the Public Service Commissioner (nor any of its predecessors) have ever even mentioned the actual subject of the dispute in any written document that I have seen.
You indicated on 10 August that you would write to the Acting Public Service Commissioner to at least obtain details of the outcomes of the alleged 'proper' investigations of this matter.
As some time has elapsed and nothing seems to have eventuated, I should like to request your formal advice about the outcome of your latter further request to the Office of the Public Service Commissioner.
As pointed out in my letter of 10 August 2004, the fact that professional merit has been able to be ignored in making 'senior' appointments has destroyed the capability and credibility of Queensland's Public Service. And the resulting poverty of public administration in this state is a matter that is increasingly obvious from the daily papers.
|Follow-up No 2 [Email]||
3 April 2005
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
In recent weeks the Leader of the Opposition, the former Ombudsman and the media have expressed concern about the way in which 'senior' appointments have been made. I am thus writing again to request advice about the outcome of your representations in relation to disgraceful events which showed that professional merit has not really been a necessary consideration in making 'senior' appointments to Queensland's Public Service.
In our meeting on 10 August 2004 we discussed the Public Service Commissioner's claim that the issues related to my ongoing dispute with the Premier's Department's had been 'properly aired and examined by appropriate officers'. I pointed out that his claim was preposterous. For example, it is humanly impossible to 'properly examine' a matter (ie the Department's refusal to allow professional merit to be considered in a formal complaint about making a senior policy R&D appointment), if one never actually mentions what it is one is examining.
As you will be aware, the former Ombudsman, Mr Fred Albietz, had argued that it would have been wrong to take professional merit into account in that situation (and thus by extension pointed out that it did not really have to be considered in any senior Public Service appointment) because legislation prevented appeals against SES appointments [though, in relation to my case, he confused a formal Grievance process with a Fair Treatment Appeal].
However, Mr Albietz (following his retirement) now seems to have come to a different conclusion, because he argued that relevant expertise is actually essential in making specialist senior appointments (Albietz F., 'An appointment not above the law', Courier Mail, 16/3/05). He also suggested that giving a senior position to a person who lacked specialist skills might show that those who defined the selection criteria and conducted the selection process did not understand the requirements of the position.
The latter possibility was one of the issues raised in my formal Grievance - ie that the loss of relevant expertise in a politically-driven 'reform' process had left the Premier's Department unable to appreciate the requirements for a specialised (ie economic development policy R&D) appointment. This deficiency would have been revealed, if a 'Fair Treatment' Appeal (as well as EARC, the Ombudsman, an unjust Act of Parliament, the Opposition and individual MLAs) had not allowed the Department to avoid embarrassment and to abuse natural justice by preventing merit from being considered.
As you will also be aware the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Lawrence Springborg, has now reportedly implied that relevant expertise should be a requirement of senior appointments ('Freedom of Information', Stateline, 18/3/05). This also reflects a significant change as the Opposition's former view seemed to be that all that really mattered was political acceptability and the absence of political bias (see Opposition's Approach to Senior Public Service Appointments).
On 10 August 2004, you agreed to test the Public Service Commissioner's claim in relation to my dispute with the Premier's Department by requesting details of the results of the investigations that he alleged had dealt with this matter.
As noted in my follow-up letter of 23 December 2004,
I am still awaiting advice about the outcome of that further representation on
|Follow-up No 3||
10 August 2005
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
Meeting to Review Progress
Further to my letters of 15 June, 10 August and 23 December 2004, and 3 April 2005, I refer to your undertaking at our meeting on 10 August 2004, and request that a further meeting be arranged at your convenience to review progress.
As you will recall, in response to your representations on my behalf, the Acting Public Service Commissioner had claimed by letter of 7 June 2004 that the refusal by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to allow professional merit to be considered in relation to making a senior Public Service appointment (which had given rise to my dispute with the Department) had been 'properly aired and examined by appropriate officers'.
I pointed out that his claim was preposterous (eg because, despite a vast amount of waffle, no communication I received from the Department had even referred to the actual subject of the dispute)
You agreed on 10 August 2004 to at least seek from the Public Service Commissioner details of the outcomes of the alleged 'proper' investigations of this matter. However I do not as yet appear to have received any information about the outcome of your further request.
There is an increasingly widespread perception of across-the-board failings in the state Public Service (of which the situation in Queensland Health is being recognised as merely a severe example). For example the Courier Mail editorial of 3 August 2005 ('Putting state's bureaucracy under scrutiny') stated this, and called for a broadly based review.
Thus, for reasons suggested in the attached copy of an email to the Editor of the Courier Mail (dated 5 August 2005), I believe that proper professional accountability in making senior Public Service appointments remains a matter of critical importance to the effectiveness of government in Queensland. As you will be aware this is also the core of the dispute which has arisen from the abuse of natural justice by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
I have enclosed copies of relevant correspondence for your convenience.
19 August 2005
Mr Ian Craig
Dear Mr Craig
Thank you for your letter of 10 August 2005. I have recently examined aspects of 'Politicisation of the Public Service' and am in agreement that senior appointments must be made on the basis of merit, qualifications and appropriate experience.
Recent changes at the Queensland Health, and elsewhere show conclusively that politicisation of the public service continues at pace.
As you know I have written previously on your behalf but am not receiving much better hearing than yourself.
Given the time that has elapsed I can not see a lot more that can be achieved other than working to change the Government. It is clear that the present Government has no intention of changing its policy.
I will continue to support appointments being made on merit.
|Follow-on||See Queensland's Opposition seems Equally Guilty|