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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra bureaucracy's failure « Previous | |Next »
July 6, 2005

According to Michelle Grattan, Andrew Podger, a retired Canberra bureaucrat, raised the issue of the politicization of the federal bureaucracy, in his retirement speech. He said that:

"I remain uneasy about public servants trying to hide their legal authority and responsibility and to refuse to hear requests for asylum they would have had to consider; and about senior public servants and military officers continuing to maintain in the Parliament the possibility that children were thrown overboard many weeks after Air Vice-Marshal Houston's advice (that children were not thrown overboard) was given and known to be given."

Such conduct does not imply a degree of independence by the Canberra bureaucracy with a need to be responsive to the Minister's interests. It indicates that the public interest has pushed aside in favour of protecting the partisan interest of the government of the day.

That is the old fashioned view of the bureaucracy--the one in which frank and fearless advice is offered. The contemporary view is the political one in which the bureaucracy is there to than please the government of the day--go with the government's flow even to the point of dissembling before Senate estimates.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Afairs (DIMA) is a classic example of a department that trashes good public service values by serving the Minister and forgetting about the public interest. A draft of the report into the Rau case by former police commissioner Mick Palmer, which was tabled in Queensland Parliament yesterday, said that Ms Rau, who suffers from a mental illness, received health care that was demonstrably inadequate by any measure. Ms Rau was simply a person who desperately needed help.

The Immigration Department aggravated her illness by mistreatment, because it defined her as a visa violator and then treated her as a prisoner not an immigration detainee.

The cowboy culture of DIMA led to the illegal detention of Ms Rau, the wrongful deportation of Ms Alvarez and a failure to provide both Australian citizens with medical care and attention.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:55 PM | | Comments (0)
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