CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

18 January, 2004

Mr Jamie Walker,
c/- The Australian

'Beattie Back for More'

I noted with interest your analysis (The Australian, 14/1/04) which suggests why (even though something has 'spooked' the state government into a rushed election) it is certain to be returned.

Key points as I interpreted them: The odds that Labor will regain power in 2004 election are very short - requiring a huge swing. The past 6 months have seen problems emerging (eg unpopular ambulance levy; despite talk of Smart State AMC failed; running sore in Families Department). However this does not seem sufficient. The real danger is that incumbency will result in people bringing Beattie down as happened to Goss in 1995 and Kennett in Victoria. Government benefits from effect of extremely strong economy, and Queensland's books are the best in the country.

Though I am notoriously poor judge of anything political, I ventured a prediction to the Premier at one stage that there could be a second bout of the 'Queensland Effect' (ie an electoral loss on a protest vote which was not expected by commentators) because of the large numbers of areas where interest groups are disaffected by the failure of effective public administration.

I should thus like to suggest for your consideration the original 'Queensland Effect' in 1995 occurred not because of the problem of incumbency, but because the commentators (who were only aware of 'political' debate) did not really have enough information about the practical failures of public administration that were affecting the community (see Towards Good Government in Queensland).

Furthermore commentators now seem unaware of some of the discontent which is felt by those with influence in the community. By way of example (in addition to the issues) you mentioned there seems to be substantial discontent related to :

There are other indicators of widespread problems outlined in The Growing Case for a Professional Public Service.

Furthermore I suggest that the statement in your article that Queensland has the best 'set of books' in the country needs reconsideration. As far as I can see Queensland's budget has been 'balanced' by creative accounting (which is causing increasing conflict with the Auditor General), and the state is in fact facing significant and Growing Pressure for Tax Increases. There are furthermore massive defects in Queensland's Economic Strategy and many signs of the need for very difficult economic changes.

The fact that commentators focus on what politicians say rather than on what governments fail to do competently is the major reason that there could be a new Queensland Effect (ie a large unexpected electoral swing). Naturally politicians are unable to talk about things that are not being done competently ...... because they have no way to tell before popular discontent boils over (in the absence of a professional Public Service and of competent independent public policy institutions - see Queensland's Weak Parliament).