CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

1 August 2005

Jamie Walker
c/- Courier Mail

A Turn Left for Queensland Government?

I refer to your constructive comments about the political implications of the recent changes in Queensland's ministries, and would like to suggest that these changes (when combined with other factors) suggest that more could be involved than simply putting on a new coat of political polish.

My interpretation of your article: Has Queensland's premier overreached himself with the Labor Party? This is being asked after changes to ministry and bureaucracy. Treasurer (previously seen as dominant figure in government) has gone. Left-winger has been installed as deputy premier, and responsible for state development. Health minister was moved, and senior health officials sacked. This aimed to excise problems emerging from Bundaberg Hospital. Aspects of Treasurer's departure do not a add up - as there seems no imperative for him to go. Premier has taken over Treasurer's job. The official line is that Treasurer wanted a career change. Not all support Anna Bligh who has become deputy premier - and she and Treasurer did not get on well. Putting Bligh in this position eases problems with troublesome Left. But premier's choice for another ministerial position was not supported. Politically premier's position is rock solid - and he is positioning others to succeed him (Walker J., 'Spring clean', Courier Mail, 30-31/7/05).

The changes made may indicate a significant policy re-alignment related to the many chronic problems that pervade Queensland's public administration. Moreover those changes might involve giving increased priority to policies of the ALP Left, and imply that Treasury was 'rolled' - a situation that the former Treasurer may not have been willing to live with.

Some reasons to suspect that recent changes could reflect such a policy re-alignment are:

If radical policy re-alignments are in fact intended (and the fact is that 'business as usual' seemed increasingly untenable) then the prospects of future instability in Queensland's system of government are quite high.

Queensland's problem remains the lack of community support for apolitical institutions (both outside government, and inside in the form of a professionally accountable Public Service) that would be able to provide more reliable information to the community and its representatives about the implications of public and economic polices (see Queensland's Weak Parliament).


John Craig