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Letter + Supporting paper
15 April 2004
Mr Bruce Flegg, MLA
Enclosed herewith is a paper, Seeking Natural Justice, that contains background information in relation to the issue that I should like to raise with you at our meeting on 19 April 2004.
Seeking Natural Justice amplifies the first issue mentioned in an email of 19 January 2004 (Issues re State Election). As you may recall the latter included an earlier email (Minister Denied Natural Justice of 17 January 2004) to the Premier in which I requested (yet again) attention to an abuse of natural justice by his Department.
In particular Seeking Natural Justice refers to:
At our meeting I will request that you write to the Premier demanding that a meaningful response should be given to my email of 17 January (which, as you will be aware, has been followed by two reminder letters) and that in his response the fact that his Department refused to allow professional merit to be considered in a grievance about the making of a senior policy R&D appointment should finally be seriously addressed.
In the event that no meaningful response is forthcoming I will further request that you raise the matter in Parliament.
|Supporting paper to letter of 15/4/04||
Seeking Natural Justice
I am seeking help in correcting an abuse of natural justice which involved the unreasonable refusal by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to allow professional merit to be considered in relation to the making of a senior Public Service appointment.
Documents related to this since July 1998 are on the web - and are thus public information (See chronological list in reverse date order). This includes a history in Autocratic Ignorance Purges the Public Service (dated 28 April 1999), and the remedies I am seeking (see a letter of 10 July 1998 - which replicated those first stated in a letter to the then Premier Goss of 26 May 1992).
In brief, a dispute (which has been actively and continually pursued) arose out of a grievance about the Department's failure (in an across-the-board process of re-staffing under the Goss Government) to give me an interview for a senior policy R&D position I applied for. The position was similar to the role I had successfully filled for a decade in both the Premier's Department and earlier in the Coordinator General's Department. The grievance was based on (a) the technical difficulty of the subject matter the policy R&D position had to deal with (b) the quality of my work and (c) circumstances in the Department (ie loss of technical competence as result of the 'reform' process) which prevented this being understood. The Department refused to allow professional merit to be considered in this grievance (which made meaningful investigation of the grievance impossible) and proceeded with my involuntary retrenchment. At no stage in the process did I encounter anyone who knew or cared what constituted technical merit in a function which was critical to the ability of the elected government to carry out its duties in the interests of the Queensland community.
When the Borbidge Government gained power I foolishly accepted advice not to formally submit claims I had prepared about the dispute, and was appointed by the Premier's Department to a temporary A08 position. The promise of a permanent position was never fulfilled, and great deficiencies remained in the capabilities of the Public Service. My position was terminated without discussion when the Beattie Government was elected and an administrative regime virtually identical to that under the Goss Government was installed.
The Premier's Department is very sensitive about this dispute.
It has provided various wordy responses in relation to this issue that have all scrupulously avoided the actual subject of the dispute (ie none have ever acknowledged that the dispute is about the Department's refusal to allow professional merit to be considered).
The Department has been able to 'stonewall' the dispute (ie refuse to explain its refusal to let merit be considered - or suggest how I was expected to get fair and just treatment) because:
While the Department appears to have no legal requirement to have allowed merit to be considered (though it certainly had a moral requirement to do so) - both the Department and the Government have maintained the pretence that Public Service appointments have been based on merit. Admitting that this has not been the case will undermine the professional credibility of the entire Public Service (and perhaps the prospects of many 'senior' officials).
There was a real Abuse of Natural Justice
In order to prove abuse of natural justice, it is merely necessary to show that the grievance outlined above was not properly investigated. This is easy as:
It is not necessary for me to prove merit in order to establish that abuses of natural justice and of the public interest occurred. Rather, as the Department refused it allow merit to be considered, it should have to justify preventing me from properly and fully presenting a case.
None-the-less the fact that the Department's action was unreasonable follows from the fact that the merit issues involved were very substantial. There were a variety of solid bases on which professional merit could have been argued if this had been allowed. For example:
However the most significant point (in relation to my application for a senior policy R&D position in the then Economic Development Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet) is that, as a result of a decade's public funded research and experimentation, I had achieved a significant breakthrough in understanding economic development as a systemic issue (and particularly in understanding the role of knowledge, which economics has long regarded as the most important factor in economic growth). This insight seems to be of philosophical, theoretical and practical importance - as detailed in an Attachment.
Other Background to the Abuse
The dispute basically arose from the loss of technical competence in relation to economic development issues as a result of a 'reform' process which seemed mainly about building a political power base. However other frictions in the Premier's Department at the time need to be recognised. For example:
It also note that I have gone to great lengths to maintain political independence. In particular:
The dispute continues to have current public relevance because, for example,:
|Attachment to letter of 15/4/04||Attachment A: Probable Breakthrough in Understanding Economic Development
Explaining economic growth
There is a large literature on economic growth theory. However to illustrate the significance of my probable breakthrough it is only necessary to recognise that Solow's work, for which he received a Nobel Prize on the 1950s, was long regarded by economists as a critical insight. Economists refer to a 'production function' which typically tries to relate the value of economic production to capital and labour inputs. Solow's contribution was significant in showing that most growth (in a sophisticated economy such as the US) was not due to increases in either of these inputs (ie of capital and labour) but to a 'third factor' which he ascribed to knowledge / technology.
In the 1990s economists grew tired of working with a production function in which the most important cause of growth was not included, and so Romer (and others) suggested various 'new' growth theories which formally introduced 'knowledge' as an input in the production function.
However the key role of knowledge in economic growth is best conceived of, not as a an input to a production function, but as a means for changing the production function by altering the way individuals, organisations or the economy as a whole work.
Though another 20 years work is needed on this question, it seems likely that this insight is valid because of the consistent implications of:
If correct this insight breaks the paradigm of 'positive' / scientific economics and makes a huge difference to what must be seen to be possible.
For example, it is of theoretical importance in economics because it shows the possibility of doing more to create a business-supporting economic environment than a government-created tax / regulatory / infrastructure regime (ie by informed leadership to change the way the economy works within itself). In particular it shows the possibility of a dynamic approach to the (static) concept of industry clusters (ie of the overall economic system within which an enterprise operates) which were recognised in the 1990s to be of critical significance to the competitiveness / productivity of enterprises and regional economies.
The insight is also of practical significance. For example:
This insight potentially has important implications in many areas, because:
Evidence that this insight involves a significant breakthrough is available, including:
Thank you for your letter of 6 May 2004 and the attachments which, though lengthy, I have fully read.
I have some commercial background but no background in formal economics so I cannot comment from my own knowledge on some of your technical issues relating to economic development.
However, I do note very strongly your point about the politicisation of the public service and advancement by political connections of people who do not have the best professional qualifications for their position.
I shudder when I see the Boards of Management of power stations containing union representatives from white collar unions for example.
I also take very strongly your point that governments should not be funding R&D and that governments and the public service are the very worst people to pick economic and research projects on their merit. History is littered with the corpses of projects that received enthusiastic support from government. We need look no further than the recent Australian Magnesium Corporation debacle in Queensland to see that.
I believe that we should be an innovative country. A country that invests heavily in the future which means investing in R&D but as you rightly point out I believe that it should be private business with the encouragement of government that fulfils this role.
Where possible I will support these objectives. In relation to your own case, I am not sure where you can go from here as quite a bit of time has elapsed and many of the personalities of the day have moved on.
Further representations to the Premier's Department are unlikely to illicit any more satisfactory response from the previous ones.
If you have any ideas or I could be of assistance don't hesitate to reply. In the meantime thanks very much for your input which is greatly appreciated.
With best wishes,
Bruce Flegg MP
17 May 2004
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
Thanks for your consideration in reading the rather lengthy attachments to my letters of 15 April and 6 May. I note from your letter of 11 May that (though you lack background in formal economics) you agree with some basic points I made (eg about the adverse effects of public service politicisation and 'picking winners'; and about the need for an innovative capability).
I also respect your view that, as a great deal time has elapsed, it is hard to see what might be achieved in my own case. However a great deal could be achieved. I note that:
All I need you to do is to ask the Department of Premier and Cabinet to try to explain why it did not allow professional merit to be considered in relation to my grievance about the process of making a senior policy R&D appointment in its then Economic Development Division.
Further to my letter of 25 May 2004, I have received a reply from Mr George O'Farrell, Acting Public Service Commissioner, a copy of which I have enclosed for your information.
It appears that they will not reconsider your case, as they feel that all your grievances have been properly aired and examined in the past by the appropriate officers.
I regret my representations were not successful.
Bruce Flegg MP
[With the following attached]
Dr Bruce Flegg MP
Thank you for your letter dated 25 May 2004 to Dr Leo Keliher regarding matters raised by Mr John Craig. The Director general has asked for my consideration of this matter and to respond directly to you.
Mr Craig has raised issues concerning his previous employment in the public service on numerous occasions. I am satisfied that Mr Craig's grievances have been properly aired and examined by appropriate officers. I can see no useful purpose to be served by considering these matters again.
Should you have any further queries, please contact Jennifer Reid, Principal Policy Officer, Workforce Management Group on telephone (07) 3227 8627, or email email@example.com.
Dr Bruce Flegg, MLA
Thanks for your advice of 10/6/04 about the Acting Public Service Commissioner's response to your representations to the Director General, Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Presuming that your representation asked why that Department refused to allow professional merit to be considered in my formal 1992 grievance about the making of a senior policy R&D appointment, his reply was just a contemptuous refusal to answer the question. This tactic has been repeatedly used over the last decade to cover-up the Department's actions.
Mr O'Farrell's claim that my 'grievances' have been 'properly aired and examined by appropriate officers' is preposterous. Not only did the Department abuse natural justice by preventing merit being considered in my formal 1992 grievance, but (as you can see) there has been no meaningful response at all to the subsequent dispute about its decision to do so.
May I suggest that it would be possible to get a more meaningful response by replying to the Acting Public Service Commissioner's letter of 7/6/04 along the following lines:
Government functions have become ineffectual as Public Service staffing has degenerated into building a political power base rather than gaining practical support in policy development and implementation. This is now well understood by community leaders - and is on the point of becoming obvious to the 'world and his wife'.
In 2001 the Queensland Council of Professions seemed to agree that there was a problem (but could see no way forward) when a respected business 'networker' and I made a submission about the loss of Public Service professionalism. That Council (and other responsible organisations) might by now be willing to publicly support an initiative to start insisting on professional accountability in the Public Service. This could be a step towards the goal which you implied that the Opposition as a whole has on gaining government - namely running the Public Service in a more professional manner.