The Morrison Government is reportedly poised to slash Australia’s public service in a bid to reduce ‘red tape’ and save on costs:
Scott Morrison is poised to put an axe through the public service today with plans to dramatically cut the number of government departments with another round of mandarins set for the chopping block.
The Australian, which flagged the changes in July, understands that several more super-departments will be created in a move to dramatically cut bureaucratic red tape.
Senior government sources said it was expected to be the biggest realignment and reform of the public service since Bob Hawke cut the number of departments from 28 to 18 in his reforms to the machinery of government in 1987…
Mr Morrison, on becoming prime minister, appointed himself as minister for the public service in a signal that he was planning sweeping changes to the “mandarin” club in Canberra…
“We don’t expect the public service to run the government. That’s what we were elected to do,” Mr Morrison said.
I’m no fan of the bloated public service, but this does have me worried.
As we know, the Coalition has already recently stacked the public service with Liberal Party “yes men”, including:
- appointment of former chief of staff to both Treasurers Peter Costello and Scott Morrison, Philip Gaetjens, to the secretary of the Australian Treasury and then the Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet;
- appointment of former chief of staff to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and cabinet secretary in the Turnbull government, Simon Atkinson, to the head of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development; and
- appointment of former Liberal Party staffer, Michael Brennan, to head of the Productivity Commission.
Australia’s public service has already been stripped raw by decades of government outsourcing, waves of senior redundancies, as well as a preference for governments to seek advice from paid consultants, erroneously named ‘think tanks’, and political staffers.
The end result is that the “frank and fearless advice” that the public service was once renowned for has vanished, replaced by spin and purchased analysis designed to support a pre-conceived political agenda.
Nowhere is this propaganda more obvious than the Australian Treasury, which has become a blatant shill for the Federal Government, as evidenced by the department’s dodgy Budget forecasts, dodgy modelling around company tax cuts, as well as dodgy propaganda around mass immigration.
In short, this “reform” agenda reads like Scott Morrison is telling the public service to “do what their told” and to not question government decision-making. And with it, we should expect the public service to morph entirely into government shill “yes men/women”.
It is also unlikely to save taxpayers in the long-run with public servants’ wages replaced by expensive external consultants, as we witnessed after the Howard Government’s downsizing in the late-1990s.