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Good Intentions: Bad Results - email sent 11/11/14

Jamie Walker
The Australian

Re: Wayne Goss, who led his state back into the sunshine, gone at 63, The Australian, 11/11/14

The 1989-1996 Goss administration demonstrated that good intentions do not necessarily produce good outcomes.

As your article noted ‘… restructuring the public service (and other things) were hallmarks of the Goss Government’. The problem was that abuses of power by the administration’s cronies who were charged with ‘restructuring and restaffing’ (ie politicising) the public service were as bad as anything in the Bjelke Peterson era. Bullying to ensure that the public service was dominated by compliant ‘yes-men’ deprived the Goss Government of the public intellectual capital and practical competencies that were needed if it was to achieve real success with its widely-supported pre-election policies (see Toward Good Government in Queensland, 1996).

Queensland’s system of government soon became almost completely unworkable (see Observer’s Comments) – just as had happened to Victoria’s Cain Government in the 1980s when similar ‘reform’ methods had been used (see Review of The Fall of the House of Cain, 1995). A huge number of dysfunctional outcomes were recorded by the Queensland media (see Dysfunctions). The lack of a professional / independent public service reduced in-house constraints on dubious / corrupt practices (see Reform of Queensland Institutions: or a Rising Tide of Public Hypocrisy?, 2004+). And the foundations were laid for the struggles that successor Governments faced (Queensland's Worst Government?, 2005).

Wayne Goss himself was not to blame for the ongoing problems in Queensland’s Government that his administration generated. But the fact that the damage that was done by his associates in the early 1990s is still not publicly acknowledged makes it impossible to get serious reform of Queensland’s Government underway (eg see Populism has become Chronic in Australian Politics and Poor Government in Queensland: A Rich Field for Senate Inquiry).

Some suggestions about how better results might be achieved next time were in Journey Towards a More Effective 'Fitzgerald Inquiry' (2009)

John Craig