CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary


Mr Hedley Thomas
Courier Mail

'Crash Course for FOI Chief'

In a recent article you reported that FOI officers are concerned that a senior appointment has made a mockery of Queensland's 'merit selection system'.

My interpretation of your article: The controversial new Information Commissioner has put herself down for a $300 beginners course in FOI because she has no skills and no experience in the complex field. The one-day crash course is to help junior trainee FOI officers get their heads around the legislation. FOI officers were annoyed - claiming that her appointment made a mockery of the merit selection system. The advertised criteria for the position did not include legal skills or training - though these had been required (because of the nature of the job) when Queensland's most experienced FOI officer became the deputy information commissioner in 1992. The new Information Commissioner has no legal training but has worked at a high level in the Premier's Department, and her lead referee is the premier's DG. The premier rejected claims that her political ties and close relationship with the government indicated a political takeover of the Information Commissioner's office (Thomas H., 'Crash course for FOI chief', Courier Mail, 11/3/05).

Such concern is more than a little belated. Queensland has not had anything but a pretence of a 'merit selection system' for over a decade.

By way of evidence I refer to:

Moreover concern about the breakdown of an effective 'merit selection system' has repeatedly been expressed over the years (see The Growing Case for Professional Public Service - which also refers to indicators of the extensive administrative dysfunctions that have resulted).

The core problem may be that there are no external professional institutions that have the competence or will to convince Parliament of the benefits of calling the state's populist 'dictators' to account.

I wish you luck in your further pursuit of such questions.