Queensland's Government (Australia) under Beattie, Bligh and Newman 2009 - 2015
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"Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy
Many pundits have predicted Premier Campbell Newman will lose his seat and the Government Liberal National Party (LNP) will win by a small majority putting their Treasurer in as Premier. I do not think so.
Campbell Newman said "ďf I lose my seat the LNP will lose government", arrogant maybe but he will be shown to be prescient, the Labor Party will rout the LNP moving into a minority government.
Command, and control politics, CEO style Premiers, Pms and Ministers, who are defined by managerial theories are no longer acceptable to the Australian nation's electorates. The GFC taught many of us lessons, among them, it showed how much rich nation politicians and corporate bosses earn and operate. WE saw how their mates and supporters benefited. A majority does not like it at all.
A decade back politicians, business, media and elites had all of the resources, power and information. Voters were isolated and kept in the dark, the web changed all of that. Two hours after the polling booths close I say "bye bye Mr Campbell and many of your government colleagues also".
In March 2012 the Lord Mayor Brisbane, Queensland Australia, transitioned to state parliament to become Premier. Newman came with a reputation as a can do, no nonsense commercial operator. He had rebranded, and rejigged, the city to a new world status. Brisbane local government area is the largest council in the world and in Australia the Lord Mayor of Brisbane occupies a high political ranking. Newman is a acolyte of the Liberal National Party. This is a different political beast to other Australian state and federal political parties.
To enter parliament Newman had to win the electoral seat of Ashgrove. And he did. In fact the Newman lead party took 78 seats in the parliament, the biggest win in Australia's electoral history. Australian Labor Party (who had governed under Peter Beatttie and Anna Bligh successively) was left with 7 seats.
Australian males in senior positions in corporate, and political life, tend to exhibit similar traits. Newman brought the can do trait, brook no challenge accept no dissension, mixed with military command style, to the role of Premier. However being the boss in a local government arena is completely different to being a Premier. There has been no indication that he has grasped this at any point and defintely not upon arrival. Amng the senior executives traits we can find massive egos and bombastic autocratic styles. The Chairman, the CEO, are gods in their corporate world.
Newman immedaitely entered into humiliation and confrontation with the unions, labor party rump, the state public servants, judiciary, Crime and Misconduct Commission, community groups, the arts community and anyone that came within his frame of disdain, who dared challenge him. Over the three years he has maintained the gladiatorial standards imbued in our nation's political system. Eventuallly thuggery falls to the contest of ideas and true leadership. In the case of Queensland it is unikely a leader of exceptional quality is present. This is the case with federal politiacs and most other regimes here.
In the style of Newman, the corpoerate managerial style gladiator, there are only winners and losers. His modus operaandi is to be a winner all of the time. Power, and office, are instruments of this psyche that permeates our Australian politics. The sole objective is to obtain and retain power. Obstacles must be removed. The proovision of good governance, creation of policy is somewhat tokenism. Loyalty to leader and party is rewarded through sinecure. These types of politticians are thieves of democracy and cancers eating the public interest.
Why would voters remain rusted on to such people? This is another dilemma. Perhaps by rote, they have always voted for one or the other party, or they like their local parliamentary member. Others are haters like the party members. Shows of hatred are on display oin social media, usually under a pseudonym rather thaan open. though there are spear carriers for the party across society. Campbell Newman like his contemporaries lacks the statesman's ability to bridge the gap.
The political polling began to reflect the odious effects of Mr Newman's military command style as his status dropped. Newman has taken the huge majority and put it at risk in two years. The 75 people who came with him are just foddder to his personal ambition. This is not dissimilar to the Australian Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has taken but one year to diminish his political capital.
Abrasion, dismissive rhetoric, gladiatorial shows and gratuitious attacks on perceived enemies tends to diminish, even overshadow, good policy and action by governments. One can argue this is the case here and at the federal level. Going too far the other way (Mr Nice guys) as Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine did in Victoria can carry catastrophic consequences the state Liberal National government of Victoria lasted bt one term. A balance has to be struck. NSW Premier Baird seems to be able to grasp such a balance.
Campbell Newman has to call an election to take place by end of March 2015 or sooner. Any contrition he shows now is probably born out of political necessiity and perhaps a modicum of worry. Though I think it is more likely that he cannot discern why he is not receiving accolades for his management. The fear is probably rife amongst the large coterie of LNP parliamentary members and the less than illuminating Ministerial team.
Regardless of outcome, I assume that there will be no lessons learned by the likes of Newman nor by Labor if they again take government. It is a merry go round where the senior team of both parties usually keep their jobs and the lesser lights of the majority party pay the price. Some say Newman may lose his seat in parliament. This is speculation. What seems clear to me, from history, and the modus operandi of Australia's two party system is that if Labor wins they will beat their chests at having brought down the Liberal National Newman lead government in one term from their existing position of humiliation.
Such a win would fill their ego and that of their Labor party colleagues across Australia. The Australian federal Labor leadesrhip will grasp such an event with both fists making up stories and manufacturing fabrications as to how this occurred tryong to tie it all to Tony Abbott.
Neither of the two political parties (Liberal and Labor) will deal with reality, and many truths, among them that Australian voters are only wedded to delivering a win for either of them due to the two party - preferential model that operates here. It is a manaaged system of patronage and spoils of political office among a few. The politicians that lead Labor and the Liberal parties are not held in high regard by the public. Much of what consumes the politicians the average person could not give a toss about. They know politics is spin, lies and concocted outcomes to make one party look bad and the other great. The primary votes, in most elections (ignoriing the abnormal Queensland last outcome) combined are around 75% of total leaving 25% to Nationals, Greens, PUP, Hanson and true Independents. There are two houses of parliament to soak up this outcome.
Nick Xenophon Party is unlikely to stand candidates, and there will not be a large contingent of independents arriving, like in Victoria's state parliament, because there is no Upper House in Queensland. The Sunshine State is the unique politically rigged contrivance of a few not a democracy, or government, of the people, for the people, by the people.
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"An independent MP has launched a petition to resurrect an upper house in Queensland and keep tabs on the Newman government.
The government last week sacked the entire cross-party parliamentary committee that oversees the state's crime and corruption watchdog.
It said the move was necessary because the committee was biased against Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Ken Levy, whom it had been investigating.
Dr Levy has been accused of misleading the committee in his initial statements about what contact he had with the government before writing a newspaper article supporting the government's contentious anti-bikie laws.
He's denied any wrongdoing and says a misunderstanding was behind his failure to reveal
he'd met with the government's most senior media advisor before writing the piece. (Source: Nine National News, November 25, 2013)|
"The Queensland premier has dismissed calls for the reintroduction of an upper house amid claims his government has scant regard for democracy. The government last week sacked the entire parliamentary committee that oversees Queensland's corruption watchdog, accusing it of bias. Critics say the government is attacking the committee system of checks and balances, which was put in place after the landmark Fitzgerald corruption inquiry. Independent MP Peter Wellington, who served on the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (CMC), says it was sacked because it was close to exposing corruption." (source: Brisbane Times, November 25, 2013)
THE Queensland government now has the majority of members on a new committee that replaces the one it sacked en masse overnight. Overnight, the government used its massive majority to sack the cross-party committee that oversees the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC). Liberal National Party MPs now hold four of the seven spots. One of those four, Capalaba MP Steve Davies, is also the chairman. He replaces independent MP Liz Cunningham, who was sacked overnight along with the six other members of the cross-party committee. The government says it had to dismiss the original PCMC because members had shown bias against the acting chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission, Ken Levy. The original committee had been investigating whether Dr Levy gave misleading evidence about his contact with the government before he wrote a newspaper article backing controversial new bikie laws. The government said some of the original committee members had shown clear bias by calling for Dr Levy to quit before its investigations were complete. The Levy investigation will now fall to a new Select Committee on Ethics, comprising four government and three non-government MPs.(Source: The Australian National Affairs, AAP November 22, 2013(
A government and bureaucracy eroding, and ripping apart, the fabric of community
The year was 1999, and my client was looking to create an investment in technology. They had met with every state bureaucracy and a few Ministers and a number of federal agencies. Invention, and innovation, I have come to learn over the years, are not hallmarks of Australia's governments and bureaucracies. Simple things galvanised them, a car manufacturing plant, a refinery, a new coal mine, an internet business (particularly games) and here in Queensland all the go was biopharmaceuticals. The self professed media tart was in charge of Queensland's government. He had a thing and still does for bio. I met the innovaton department people, and they told me about their university campus innovation park. Off we went. The university people were effucious. How much money would we give them? What would be the salary of the academic and the possile international cudos that would come? Another research centre. THis was their cup of tea. Dollars illuminated their eyes like Vegas lights. They were clones surely because the university people in NSW had behaved similarly.
The public servants wanted to know if the clients (US, European and Middle Eastern global businesses) would move their headquarters to Brisbane? How many jobs would we bring to the state? I asked for a proposition paper from them. Some months later I got a colour brochure. This went on in the same fashion for about a year. They lost interest. Similarly in NSW, the state government bureaucracy seemed terminal. LIke an atrofied forest they too had glossy brochures. If you are a friend of labor, a donor or a supporter the wheels can be greased. If, like my clinets, you think business is separate and an even playing field then you may aswell as move on.
A few days after the last meeting with Queensland, and New South Wales, government agencies I boarded a flight to the UK. Off to see billiton at NUmber 5 the Strand. It was the heady early days of the talks around the Billiton BHP merger. In my hotel room above the station I looked out at the Eye, onto the statues and the changing of the guard and up the road a bit, Buckingham Palace. I wondred what it would be like to meet, and negotiate with, the giants of the corporate mining world. The deal was done two days later, after one and half hours of talk and negotiations. The Memorandum of Understanding was prepared and signed. So it would be across Europe, the USA and Canada. I moved on to Switzerland and Germany. To meet the car manufacturers, and Siemens. The town of Erlungen seemed purpose built for Siemens. Again the deal was done and a technology agreement was struck. Easy compared to the drawn out processes invented in Australian states, a mechanism for shedding risk and pinning stories to the public of Australian politicians' political prowess. Onwards into the USA, and finally into Canada, my clients were gaining a picture of what the world might look like in the miod 2000s. The glossy brochures of the CSIRO flagship magnesium project and the Australian Government's Light Metals Industry strategy, that had galvanised the imagination and stupidity of Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland and to some extent the Northern Territory and Western Australia, were gathering dust on the Australian office shelves. Come in spinner. In Tasmania I experienced a new twist on the theme. The bureaucrats with whom I was negotiating on the Friday left and strated up with the competiton on the Monday. The competition won the day. It seems because Tasmania is so small and opportunities so sparse on the ground conflicts of interest in bureaucrats are softened or ignored.
Pipe dreams spun largely by Queensland Magnesium and the Queensland government sucking off the federal government teat, swallowing the stories of fast businessmen, and grasping greedy academics, hook line and sinker. Paying my team to search out the truth, my clients, were unloading their light minerals interests fast.
Yet Queensland still tweaked their interest. Back I went to meet the Queensland Mines people and to do due diligence on a possible purchase. Bentonite took their fancy. It is the stuff of kitty litter and cosmetics. But when placed on an oil slick, on the ocean, its sucks the oil up turning like a briquette dropping to the sea bed. This did not galvanise the attention of the glassy eyes bureaucrats who, simultaneously, were looking at how many ships they would let sail through the Barrier Reef. It seemed of little concern, oil and the risk. Today under labor it is still of little concern. They want royalty monies.
The country stretched for miles in every direction. It was as if the land existed independent of the flux of time. Springsure is about 300 kilometres from civilisation and the client wanted to know what was there. I sat and looked at the green belt stretching for at least a hundred kilometres into the horizon. All around was grippedd in drought. Except this ten metre wide strip, for below it was bentonite. I moved on through the countryside cruising into the remote towns that some of which had risen up because Utah Mining had come to the state, decades earlier. The National government, under Jo B P, had made the mining company build a town. The town would service the mines. Fast forward to 2010 and the negotiations, and demands, of the Labor government are completely different. The mining companies could do their thing, demands other than royalties, are not great. A bbig mining company would have to build 400 houses in a region. Why in a region? Of course, where those where those houses were to be built would be a pork barrel exercise to suit labor's political interests. Now the companies can fly in fly out. Thousand of trasnient workers, sucking the life, resources and the soul, out of communities, up and down, Queensland. The hatred for the state government was apparent to me and my coleeagues the further we got from Brisbane.
The state's budget allocation, for services, education, health, transport and such, is made on the number of permanent residences. How many hospitals, and services, would a small rural town in Queensland qualify for? Not many, and then wham in come thousamnds of squatters. The formula is not changed. There is much in this web site that are signs of something not so good.
By now given the time and resources, logic over rode my client's intuition regarding doing things in Queensland and they did not buy the company, nor invest in the bentonite, and other minerals on offer. For a while they toyed with investmnt in the Latrobe Valley Victoria. The same difficult barriers were encountered. It is very difficult to dio business in Australia with the governments unless you are a car manufacturer. My clients again turned their attention internationally. By comparison to Australia, Canada's easy to do business philosophy and their open good humour and gracious hospitality won the day. Canadian mining interests bought the Australian company that had occupied my life since 1998.
So in 2006, a set of new clients and a new set of interests as technology again beckoned. However it seems that I would be forever burdened with clients who like the thought of investing in Queensland. So back I went in 2006. Again the same questions as if time had stood still, would my clients set up their HQ in Brisbane, how many jos, how many dlars would go to which university and what were the prospects? I came across a project called the Queensland Smart Card Driver Licence. It was a huge bureaucratic monster chewing up millions. My clients had interest in this very technology around the globe. They could do a high security driver licence for a government and a few million people in an average of six months. Q Queensland though is different. In 2006, Queenslanders still had a paper licence.
Between 2004 and 2010, Queensland bureaucrats could be found at every major conference and exhibition in Australia, in the USA, in Canda, in Europe. They were globe trotters sepaking as if they were inventing rocket ships to the moon. They were talking of their smart card technology, hihc today in 2012 barely exosts. The system is in and producing licences. The capital cost of the Qld driver licence for 600,000 people would probably top $A30,000,000 given an accumulation of all costs over the years and the junkets. Corruption, and ineptitude, infested every step of the process. In France at the Cartes Conference, Australia's federal public servants stayed in mid range hotels and travelled by taxi. I lived in a small pensione boutique hotel and went by train. Queensland's smart card driver liecnec guru travelled in chauffered limousines and lived in a six star hotel. So it was every where the representative went. Finally around 2009 or so it was all too much and the Crime and Misconduct Commission brought some to brook. Today Queensland has the world's dearest driver licence. Having studied it very closley including waching the Queensland representatives during their tarvels, I would hazard probably $2000, or more, a unit if you added up all of the money that was spent over ten years. By comparison the state of Victoria with a very secure anti tamper licence has always cost less than $5.00 per unit. Queensland Transport would argue that their licence is a chip. So what, do the police use it as intended in their cars? Do all of the applications run smoothly? Is it worth the money?
Linking in to security of identity I moved on to ports, airports, and transport security. This, most people in the security sector, might think all bears a relationship to National Security. Not so in Queensland. They started from the base thought that a driver licence is not an identity instrument it is a permit to drive a vehicle. They dismissed the 85 point check as being relevant. Thus they also thought that security in the domains listed are the province of the Australian federal government. In their defence this is no different to the attitudes of the other states. National security is a vexed playground and frustratioin is the oredr of the day for tjose taking it seriously. Australia's gvernments have a very narrow, and defined, perception of what constitutes the elements and make up of natonal security. The Transport bureaucrats in the states, particularlly Queensland, tend to ignore the problems their police face in false identity instruments and the moribund stupidity of the agencies. So that's story and it continues. There wil be anelection in early 2012. The labor government seems to have been in forever. The attitudes of the people across the state are palpable. They are turning against the mining companies and the fly in fly out workers. The fabric of Queensland is teraing istelf apart. The communities are rupturing. Queensland, the home state of Kevin Rudd, a fallen Prime Minister, of Wayne Swan, the Gillard labor government Treasurer and Craig Emerson, a Minister in the federal labor government, and a very, very close confidante of the Prime Minister. They may not see what I see. I see a population on the edge of mutiny and a government that has embraced the philosophy, "it's the economy stupid", without actually realising what that truly means. One day maybe Queensland will have a quality visionary government, and well functioing talented bureaucracy, but that seems years off, if ever. (Kevin R Beck, "It's The Queensland Economy Stupid, Ripping the Fabric of Queensland Communities", 2012)
Queensland Health is Rotten and Dangerous
The government, and public servants, of Queensland are in the hands of vandals. People can die, whistleblowers who tell what is going on are ignored, sacked, ostracised and their careers are destroyed. The system is be corrupt in every aspect of daily life across the state of Queensland. The management of the public services are incompetent, bigoted, racits in some cases and are corrupted by the system themselves. The Ministers are incompetent, deaf and blind. For years nothing is done. Read below in this web site, the litany of all of the above. The Premier and the Ministers were told by people inside Queensland and by others outside including myself and my colleagues. Like the federal government, the other states and the buraucrats across Australia they do not want to know when you tell them the truth or contradict their rosy view of their stewardship.
What does it take for Premier Bligh to act? A Queensland Health employees steals millions of dollars. Not deaths and waste, not poor performance and the blatant signs of stupidity. Such is the malaise and the ignorance of the labor government.
Such is the incapacity of the opposition, that they are unable to hold the government and the public service to task. Why? because the whole ystem in Queensland politics is corroded and corrupted. All elected members of the state parliament, and senior bureaucrats, are unsuitable for public office and yet the voters let them ramain in office. The waste and incompetence is a cancer in every agency in the state. The question remains why do the voters tolerate it? (Kevin R Beck, cancerous tumors within Australia's governments, 2011, Melbourne Australia.
It takes a crisis of some kind to separate the leaders from the charlatans and mediocre. Australia is not well served with quality political leaders and there is much criticism and disillusionment with our governments. The test of a real leader is how they cope when the chips are down and the people are confronted with disaster and agony. We can set aside the mundane queries about administrative capability and the nature of short term political opportunism for another day. Anna Bligh is simply elegant and in charge. Quietly in control. Her offsiders, on the television briefings, police, public servants, and others including Prime Minister Gillard, by comparison eem wooden. Ms Bligh's muted sadness, short to the point and restrained, attention to detail, clear instructions, no reading from the teleprompter and her decisive decisions are eloquent. Ms Bligh's image is quietly understated, against the (attempted) manufactured image of the Prime Minister in her poorly chosen outfits and the glossy, comely Kristina Kenneally. Anna Bligh looks like she could be a future labor Prime Minister. Sometime later, after the crisis is ended, we can debate the merits of governments, and ignorant, and incompetent, local councils and shires, allowing residential, and commercial, developments on flood plains. (Australia's Premier Leader: Anna Bligh, January 2011: Kevin R Beck, Melbourne Australia)
AND OTHER COSTS UNDER LABOR
State labor governments are on a destructive path that will cost the nation jobs, careers and livelihoods. Expect massive cost rises if the labor party is allowed to remain in control of state governments.
UNETHICAL IMMORAL AND DISGRACEFUL
The quality of administration, government and policing in Queensland
Sadly for Australia, Queensland is a state where government is of the lowest quality.
"Palm Island cops were 'protecting their own', By Michael McKenna and Tony Koch November 18, 2009 11:31pm
SENIOR officers who investigated the 2004 death in custody of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee are expected to face disciplinary action following a damning Crime and Misconduct Commission report that accuses Queensland police of "protecting their own". On the fifth anniversary of Doomadgee's watchhouse death, which sparked riots in the Aboriginal community off Townsville, the yet-to-be finalised CMC report has condemned police handling of the initial investigation and rejected the findings of an internal police review into their handling of the case. The long-overdue report was ordered in 2006 after Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements slammed the death-in-custody investigation as lacking "transparency, objectivity and independence", The Australian reports.
Police handed a 266-page report to the CMC last year recommending only "managerial guidance" of the four police investigators - two of whom were friends of Palm Island senior sergeant Chris Hurley, who was charged and acquitted in 2007 of Doomadgee's manslaughter."
In an explosive revelation, Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner Alan MacSporran confirmed yesterday he had accepted a brief to represent the Queensland Police Service at the second coronial inquest into Doomadgee's death, to be held in February."
(Source: News Now, http://www.news.com.au)
The death of the aboriginal, occurred yeasr ago, during the Premiership of Peter Beattie. The decline in Queensland's ethcal governance and the corruption and corrosion of public administration and service began decades ago and has continued. It continues under the current labor Premier Anna Bligh.
The inquest into the death of Mr Doomaji whilst in the custody of Queensland police members, took place in 2006. The government failed in its duty under the Queensland Constitution to serve the people of the state and ciontinue to do so. It has allowed the police to go uncharged and unchallenged. The Minister of the day Judy Spence, no longer in office failed her public duty. The Premier fails even as this article goes to the web. There is no recognition of conflicts of interest, of ethical and moral behaviour or basic standards of public service and government in the state of Queensland. The government of Queensland is a decrepit, and disgraceful, administration. It represents the decline of labor in Australia. When challenged the power collective retaliates with vindictive responses. Thus most remain silent. In order for âevil to prevail, all that need happen is for âgood people to do nothing.
Queensland has a dark history of questionable, and some say, illegal activity, within its administration.
"The Hon Peter Beattie MLA
80 George Street
BRISBANE QLD 4000
THE HEINER AFFAIR - A MATTER OF CONCERN
We, the undersigned legal practitioners formerly on the Bench, currently at the Bar or in legal practice, seek to re-affirm our sworn duty to uphold the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth of Australia and to indicate our deep concern about its undermining as the unresolved Heiner affair reveals.
We believe that it is the democratic right of every Australian to expect that the criminal law shall be applied consistently, predictably and equally by law-enforcement authorities throughout the Commonwealth of Australia in materially similar circumstances. We believe that any action by Executive Government which may have breached the law ought not be immune from criminal prosecution where and when the evidence satisfies the relevant provision. To do otherwise, we suggest would undermine the rule of law and confidence in government. It would tend to place Executive Government above the law. At issue is the order by the Queensland Cabinet of 5 March 1990 to destroy the Heiner Inquiry documents to prevent their use as evidence in an anticipated judicial proceeding, made worse because the Queensland Government knew the evidence concerned abuse of children in a State youth detention centre, including the alleged unresolved pack rape of an indigenous female child by other male inmates.
The affair exposes an unacceptable application of the criminal law by prima facie double standards by Queensland law-enforcement authorities in initiating a successful proceedings against an Australian citizen, namely Mr. Douglas Ensbey, but not against members of the Executive Government and certain civil servants for similar destruction-of-evidence conduct. Compelling evidence suggests that the erroneous interpretation of section 129 of the Criminal Code (Qld) used by those authorities to justify the shredding of the Heiner Inquiry documents may have knowingly advantaged Executive Government and certain civil servants. This serious inconsistency in the administration of Queenslands Criminal Code touching on the fundamental principle of respect for the administration of justice by proper preservation of evidence concerns us because this principle is found in all jurisdictions within in the Commonwealth as it sustains the rule of law generally.
The Queensland Court of Appeals binding September 2004 interpretation of section 129 in R v Ensbey; ex parte A-G (Qld)  QCA 335
exposed the erroneous interpretation that the (anticipated/imminent) judicial proceeding had to be on foot before section 129 could be triggered. We are acquainted with the affair* and specifically note, and concur with, (the late) the Right Honourable Sir Harry Gibbs GCMG, AC, KBE, as President of The Samuel Griffith Society, who advised that the reported facts represent, at least, a prima facie offence under section 129 of the Criminal Code (Qld) concerning destruction of evidence. In respect of the erroneous interpretation of section 129 adopted by Queensland authorities, we also concur with the earlier 2003 opinion of former Queensland Supreme and Appeal Court Justice, the Hon James Thomas AM, that while many laws are indeed arguable, section 129 was never open to that interpretation. Section 129 of the Criminal Code (Qld) destruction of evidence provides that:
âAny person who, knowing that any book, document, or other thing of any kind, is or may be required in evidence in a judicial proceeding, wilfully destroys it or renders it illegible or undecipherable or incapable of identification, with intent thereby to prevent it from being used in evidence, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for three years.â It concerns us that such an erroneous view of section 129 was persisted with for well over a decade despite the complainant, supported by eminent lawyers, pointing out the gravity of their error consistently since 1990 when knowing its wording and intent were so unambiguous, with authoritative case law available for citing dating back as far as 1891 in R v Vreones. Evidence adduced also reveals that the Queensland Government and Office of Crown Law knew, at the time, that the records would be discoverable under the Rules of the Supreme Court of Queensland once the expected writ/plaint was filed or served. With this knowledge, the Queensland Government ordered the destruction of these public records before the expected writ/plaint was filed or served to prevent their use as evidence. Such scandalizing of these disclosure/discovery Rules by the Executive also concerns us. So fundamentally important is respect for these Rules that the Judiciarys independent constitutional functionality depends on it. Under the circumstances, we suggest that any claim of staleness or lack of public interest which may be mounted now by Queensland authorities not to revisit this matter ought to fail. Neither the facts, the law nor the public interest offer support in that regard. However, should such a claim be mounted, we suggest that it would tend to be self-serving and undermine public confidence in the administration of justice and in government itself knowing that the 2004 Ensbey conviction, taken by the same Queensland Crown, did not occur until some 9 years after the relevant destruction-of-evidence incident. This affair encompasses all the essential democratic ideals. The right to a fair trial without interference by government and the right to impartial law-enforcement, to say nothing of respecting the rule of law itself rest at its core. Respecting the doctrine of the separation of powers and our constitutional monarchy system of democratic government are involved. We believe that the issues at stake are too compelling to ignore. We suggest that if the Heiner affair remains in its current unresolved state, it would give reasonable cause for ordinary citizens, especially Queenslanders, to believe that there is one law for them, and another for Executive Government and civil servants. We find such a prospect unacceptable. We urge the Queensland Government to appoint an independent Special Prosecutor as recommended by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in its August 2004 Report (Volume Two - Recommendation 3) following its investigation into the affair as part of its national inquiry into âCrime in the community: victims, offenders and fear of crimeâ. Such an independent transparent process we believe will restore public confidence in the administration of justice throughout the Commonwealth of Australia, more especially in Queensland.
The Hon Jack Lee AO QC Retired Chief Judge at Common Law Supreme Court of New South Wales
Dr Frank McGrath Retired Chief Judge Compensation Court of New South Wales
Alastair MacAdam, Senior Lecturer, Law Faculty, QUT Brisbane, and Barrister-at-law
The Hon R P Meagher QC - Retired Justice of the Supreme and Appeal Court of New South Wales
The Hon Barry OKeefe AM QC, Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, former ICAC Commissioner
Mr Alex Shand QC
The Hon David K Malcolm AC CitWA, former Chief Justice of Western Australia
(Source of letter: SELWYN JOHNSTON, INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES' ADVOCATE (Cairns... Far North Queensland)
TONY FITZGERALD, FORMER JUDGE: "Ethics are always tested by incumbency."
(Source: the 7.30 Report, ABC TV, 2009
WATER OFF A DUCK'S BACK IN THE SMART STATE
Hardly a fortnight passed since I posted the commentary below ("not as corrupt as before") and the former Queensland crime fighter, Tony Fitzgerald, delivered a speech at Griffith University scathingly critical of the former and current labor governments.
Extract: "Bligh, Beattie defend accountability, 14:33 AEST Wed Jul 29 2009
By David Barbeler & Jessica Marszalek
Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh have come under fire for leading unaccountable governments.
Anna Bligh and Peter Beattie have defended their Queensland Labor governments' record on accountability in the wake of damning criticism, led by corruption buster Tony Fitzgerald QC.
Mr Fitzgerald has broken a 20-year silence since delivering his 1989 corruption report to criticise the ethics of the Beattie and Bligh governments.
In a speech at Griffith University in Brisbane on Tuesday night, Mr Fitzgerald said a cloak of secrecy covered much of what ministers did and favours were being dispensed to the favoured few. "Access can now be purchased, patronage is dispensed, mates and supporters are appointed and retired politicians exploit their connections to obtain 'success fees' for deals between business and government," Mr Fitzgerald said." (Source of extract: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=843015).
I find great irony in Peter Beattie defending his record, since he implemented the changes that neutered the CMC's by recreating their role as eduacting agencies to implement their own internal watch dog programmes effectively diluting their independence and value. Even greater irony arises since Peter Beattie has, in accordance with Tony Fitzgerald's statement, been appointed by the current Premier Anna Bligh to a higher paying job than he had as Premier, based in Los Angeles. He has a trade representative role, a job for one of the labor mates. He obviously is not fettered, like other public servants. from making political statements. One may well think that he is an absent Premier still running parts of the labor fiefdom. he purportedly rang Queensland journslist in the early hours of californian time to express his views.
Anna Bligh handled the scathing commentary with the traditional thick skin of the seasoned politician. relying on charisma and the aged old practice of denying that anything is wrong she soldiers on. She is indicating that labor will outlaw massive success fees for lobbysist. How they may do that is problematic. Exoect nothing in the way of effective anti-corruption and ethical political process. labor is a part of the duopoly that manipulates our parliaments, democracy and access across the nation. Mr Fitzgerald said that the two major parties, labor and liberal, were unlikely to do anything because they simply waited their turn at government.
(Extract: " Queensland lobbyist register reveals Labor links
Andrew Fraser | July 30, 2009,
Article from: The Australian)
QUEENSLAND'S list of registered lobbyists includes not only the treasurer of the Queensland branch of the ALP but also five people who have been appointed by the state Labor government to various paid positions. Queensland Labor Party treasurer Damien Power, a former ALP staffer, is a full-time lobbyist with five major clients, as well as the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, for whom he works pro bono. His paying clients are Clubs Queensland, the peak body for Queensland's licenced clubs; energy-related companies TRUenergy and the Energy Retailing Association of Queensland; Melbourne-based building giant Grocon Constructors; as well as the Power Group, a company based on members of Mr Power's family. Before becoming a lobbyist, Mr Power worked as a consultant to the Queensland branch of the ALP, and before that, he was a ministerial staffer in the Beattie government. Mr Power has denied any conflict of interest between being the treasurer of the party in government and a registered lobbyist to that government, claiming that none of his clients had ever donated to the ALP, "although some of them might have been to a few functions".... The Queensland list of lobbyists also contains several people who have been appointed by the ALP government to various paid positions. " (Source of extract: theaustralian.news.com.au/")
(Commentary by Kevin Beck) The labor party in Queensland may well be riddled with corrupt, and unethical, practices, processes and relationships, the Prime MInister, Kevin Rudd and the federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan are members of the Queensland labor party. Are they concerned at all?
Meanwhile Queensland, the Smart State, continued its nationa leading deterioration in health with a growing list of deaths caused by what at first glance looks like negligence. On its record Queensland Health seems to be one of the most dangerous bureaucracies in the country.
Extract:" Pediatrician not asked to look at dying girl in Doomadgee,
Jamie Walker | July 28, 2009,
Article from: The Australian
NOT AS CORRUPT AS BEFORE
A common theme can be heard around the pub bar tables and coffee shops of those trudging the Australian busnes circuit aboyt doing business in Queensland. It is described as a "parochial" state where one has to be either a part of the lanscape doing busines or part of the mate's network. This is in direct contrast to the statements by the public service, the government and the spin doctors who would have us believe that tendesr are transparent and that everyone is treated with an even hand. The truth lies somewhere in between. Whatever the truth is Anna Bligh, the Premier, and the public service are deluding themselves as to the quality of the administration in the state. It is quite poor and everyday the government is beset with scandals. The media spin units of the government have been working so hard for the past twenty years t hat they have got the handling these speed humps in the "Smart State" down pat.
"Two dozen Queensland Police officers implicated in rorts
Article from: Adelaide Now, July 22, 2009
TWENTY-five Queensland police officers have been implicated in a corrupt scheme centred on rort money paid to a "cunning" double murderer, a new report has found.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) on Wednesday released a 142-page report, Dangerous Liaisons, which examines the results of an anti-corruption operation codenamed Capri. The report found 25 police officers - some ranked as high as inspector - were involved in the rorts. Three officers are currently before the courts and 22 have been disciplined, with 11 resigning from the police service before their hearings were completed.
The remaining 11 officers are still working, receiving only "managerial guidance". (Source of extract: Adelaide Now).
Extract Radio New Zealand News: Updated at 9:08pm on 17 July 2009 "Former Queensland cabinet member Gordon Nuttall has been sentenced to seven years in prison for taking $A360,000 in secret commissions when he was health minister. Chief Judge Patsy Wolfe delivered the sentence in the Brisbane District Court on Friday morning. On Wednesday, Nuttall, 56, was found guilty of 36 charges of receiving secret commissions totalling $A360,000 between 2002 and 2005 from two businessmen, Ken Talbot and Harold Shand. Nuttall, who left public office in 2006, says he considered them personal friends and thus not subject to the requirement for the loans to be declared on the parliamentary pecuniary interest registry. State premier Anna Bligh has described Nuttall's behaviour as "nothing short of appalling", while attorney-general Cameron Dick says his home - believed to be worth more than $A1 million - will be sold to recover the money corruptly paid to him, plus interest. The state's director of public prosecutions is also considering further charges against Nuttall, following an investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission into matters arising from his time as health minister."
"The Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987-89)
"Its impossible to condense the âCommission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct into a short article â even the title is long. But here are some key facts about the two-year inquiry that led to the creation of the CJC and ultimately to todays CMC. What sparked it? Anyone living in Queensland in the 1980s would remember the frequent rumblings in the media about possible police corruption. There was talk of illegal gambling and prostitution, of kickbacks and brown bags, of vice at the highest levels. Then came some first-rate investigative journalism by young Courier-Mail reporter Phil Dickie, followed by Chris Masterss now renowned Four corners episode âMoonlight state (aired 11 May 1987), and suddenly the rumblings had substance. Acting Premier Bill Gunn called for an inquiry and appointed Tony Fitzgerald QC to chair it.
Just how significant was it?
The Fitzgerald Inquiry might never have amounted to anything very much but for the fact that Tony Fitzgerald twice insisted on widening the terms of reference. Fitzgerald didnt want to be confined to looking just at specific allegations against specific people "he wanted the freedom to look into âany other matter or thing appertaining to the aforesaid matters, and he didn't want to look only at related matters but at any matter whether it related or not. By the time he was finished looking, two years had passed, the police commissioner had toppled, 30 years of National Party Government was all but over, Queensland was fundamentally altered and Fitzgerald, by giving indemnities in return for evidence, had set a new standard for commissions of inquiry. The Fitzgerald Inquiry, while set up to look at police corruption, left in its wake a trail of embarrassed celebrities, politicians and business identities, judges and other statutory office holders, companies, banks, law firms, valuers and real estate agents. " (Source Crime and Misconduct Commission, Queensland)
Peter Beattie was the Premier of Queensland before the current Premier Ms Anna Bligh. Under his premiership the CMC budget, and framework for operation, was substantialy reduced. Other than investigating police corruption its charter is to assist agencies to develop their own in house capabilities for investigations and ethical standards. So if we read the material on this web site and look at web based reporting for Queensland, the state seems to have a demonstrated decline in ethics across all of its sectors, public and private.
If one has the temerity to state this publicly, or to question processes, the bureaucracy, and the government, will respond vigorously and agressively making it difficult to do business there. This is defined colloquially a parochialism.
No government in Australia, labor or liberal, actually faces the voters on ethical, and moral, issues. They are measured largely on economic issues or personal impacts on sacred cows of the voters. Thus things hardly change and there is no demand from the electrorate for anything other than average to mediocre performance. Sadly the politicians in power, in the modern age (2009) seem to have little, if any, ethical values and moral compasses. They are not likely to alter the status quo that delivers and maintains the power of public office.
Extract "July 16, 2009 - 12:01PM,
Former Queensland government minister Gordon Nuttall will be sentenced tomorrow. A court was today told that Nuttall's receipt of $360,000 in secret commissions was ''as serious as you can imagine''. Nuttall, 56, was found guilty on Wednesday after a trial on 36 counts of receiving secret commissions from mining executives Harold Shand and Ken Talbot between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutor Ross Martin, SC, told the Brisbane District Court on Thursday Nuttall's offending fell at the top of the sentencing range, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years' jail for each charge. Mr Martin urged the court to impose cumulative sentences on at least two of the charges relating to the separate payments from Mr Talbot and Mr Shand. This could potentially see Nuttall jailed for 14 years.
Mr Martin used the sentence of former NSW prisons minister Rex Jackson as a comparable case. In 1987 Mr Jackson was given a 10-year sentence, but served seven-and-a-half years, for taking payments to let prisoners out of jail. Mr Martin said this 10-year sentence was "a benchmark against which Mr Nuttall can be sentenced." (Source of extract: Brisbane Times)
Whether it be Health, Transport, Information Technology, Roads and Planning, Water and Environment, Utilities and so on they manage to demonstrate a significant level of ineptitude and in some instances their failures, and incompetency, are dangerous to welfare life and liberty.
The government is substandard in policy. action and ethical behaviour. Queensland senior politicians, and bureaucrats, seem to struggle with ethics and morality.
Whether it be corruption in public office, in the tendering system or Ministerial, and parliamentary member's, integrity, actions and statements there is a pattern. Septmebr 16, 2008 and Minister Judy Spence exhorts Queenslanders to get behind their football team ignoring, or dismissing, the police enquiry into allegations of sexual assualt against some of the players. This is yet another indication of questionable judgement or quite simply an ignorance of what a Minister of the Crown should actually aspire to. Sport, and ego, and winning are of great significance in this state.
Constantly raped since ten years old or younger
Updated Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:27am AEDT, Source: ABC News "10yo girl 'couldn't have agreed' to sex"
Consent not legally possible: Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine (AAP: Maria Zsoldos)
No jail for gang who raped 10yo Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine says a 10-year-old girl raped by nine males in the Indigenous Cape York community of Aurukun could not have legally consented to sex. Last month nine males who carried out the gang rape escaped being sent to jail. Six juveniles who pleaded guilty to the rape were placed on 12 months probation with no conviction recorded, and three older men received suspended six-month jail sentences. Today's The Australian newspaper has reported that in handing down sentences, Cairns-based District Court Judge Sarah Bradley said the girl "probably agreed" to have sex with all nine." (Source ABC News Australia)
" Qld gang rape 'naughty' and 'childish': prosecutor By Samantha Donovan
Rape was 'childish experimentation: Crown prosecutor Steve Carter
Aurukun rape case prosecutor stood down - The Crown prosecutor who handled the Aurukun gang-rape case described the attack as "naughty", court documents have revealed." (Source ABC News Australia)
" 11/12/2007 5:19:00 PM., Source Live News
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh admits her government failed a 10-year-old girl pack-raped twice in a far northern indigenous community - the second time after being returned there by child safety officers. The child was gang-raped at the age of seven in the Cape York community of Aurukun in 2002, and was later put into foster care with a non-indigenous family in Cairns. However, child safety officers in April 2006 returned her to Aurukun, where she was raped again at the age of 10. Ms Bligh today said there was "absolutely no question" that the Child Safety Department had failed the girl. "
What will the government do? It will, as it has done in the past, rol out tyhe spin, control the media and wait for it all to go away. Unfortunatley the politicians in Australia's governments rarely go away in time to save the unfortunate. This is quality government in the land down under.
As Is the Public Sector
December 2007. Information Technology Rules The Roost and Wastes Tens of Millions
Queensland a state of paradoxes. The art centre and education hub along the Southbank complex in Brisbane is tribute to the creative thinking of those who run the state and the nature of the people who live there. It is a magnificent precinct starting at the Performing Arts, the Griffith University Conservatorium and the Conference and Exhibition Centre, winding its way along the river. It is a paradox because the Queensland state government bureaucracy would have to be one of the most wasteful, and incompetent, in Australia. Much is known about the management of health and the decay of the system therein and the incompetence that leads to misery and death across the state. There is also the constant harping of the media about the state of transport and gridlock. People babble on the television that flouride in water stunts child growth and lowers IQ. The Tresaury and every department is in thrall to the Information Technology Division and a few external companies that enjoy favouritism.
The cant about probity in tenders, and decisions, means little in a system that is ingrained, carefully protected and manipulated for internal self interest not public interest. Take for example the proposition that it has taken from 2001 to toady to plan for the delivery of a new driver licence programme and that this object of wondrous technology will not be in the hands of Queenslander's until 2009. The extraordinary thing is that senior bureaucrats travel the ]world teeling conferences about their incompetency yet in their own minds they think they are talking of ground breaking technology. Oblivious to the proposition that they may be delusional as to their own abilities. They are the laughing stock of the smart card club.
Never mind that everywhere else in the world it takes six months or so. Consider that tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers money is lost in failed IT designs and projects in every part of the Queensland public sector, education, health, forms and administration. Are the Ministers under educated in IT? Are they enthralled by expert consultants and bable theory from incumbents who want to protect their individual kingdoms. The smart state is a logo not a credo. It is in the case of the Information Technology scenarios of the various public sector agencies just a spin phrase. The peopel of Queensland are hoodwinked and are never told that they could have had things faster and cheaper but for the ignotance and stupidity of the people they emply. They go about reinventing the wheel in their own IT imaginations. Things change but remain the same.
The 2006 year ended with yet another question about the process of justice in Queensland and the capacity of the state's senior law officials, the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. The Director decided that a policeman named in a coronner's inquest into the death of an aboriginal on Palm Island should not face trial. The probelm for the Premier Peter Beattie is that the residenst of a Palm Island are not prone to dispassionate introspection and self analysis. This is an aboriginal community racked by all of the scourge of the modern age, iuncluding alcohol abuse, poor education, dysfunctional cvohesion all occurring in an environment of ignorance on their part and the part of many of the citizens, public officials and government. This is not a "smart state" as the litch logo Beattie invented would have the nation and the world believe. It is a state of differing levels of incompetence.
The Director of Public Prosecutions may be an excellent legal officer however in such a role there are more important qualifications that have nothing to do with academic endowment. One of them is plitical nouse and an ability to sniff the wind and read the future. The Director lives in a glass house of self delusion. Her decision is now subject to an imposed "political" review by others. This not only causes tension but makes a mockery of the proposition of independence of the office. The government cabinet decided that rather than use the services of interstate legal review, it would be kept inhouse using Queensland legal experts. This was alwauys going to be fraught with problems. It seems that when the Queensland cabinet decides t act they manage always to stumble from padock of quicksand to another.
The Attorney General lacks the authority of argument, and personal charisma, in explaining to the media, and other commentators, why a former Judge, who was a member of the panel of three who nominated the Director of Public Prosecutions, should be employed in this task. Conflict of interest is not a concept that is familiar to Australian politicians particularly labor state and territory government members across Australia. It would seem obvious that such an appointment would draw questions and give the resdients of Palm Island and their public voices knew ammunition. It may have served the notion of justice being seen to have tried the policeman on the evidence even if the Director thought it to be flimsy. The quality of public policy, and administration in Queensland, faces barriers to achieving excellence from a whole range of factors but the most rominent appears always to be the capacity of the people in office at the political and public service levels.
This may seem somewhat of a generalisation however I have had extensive interaction across a number of areas of public policy and administration during the past twenty five years and have been disappointed on every occasion. The focus I have come to learn, lies not on "creating a smart state" as much a promoting the self interest and political careers of the politicians and on parochial considerations. The view of the Queensland government and its public service stops at the state border. One measure of success they seem obsessed with, is the number of corporate headquarters that reside in the state, not the outcomes and outputs. To me, theyir parochialism, whilst being more blatan than some other administrations, is nothing more than the myopia of state politicians across Australia. They have little interest in the nation. The most referenced example of this myopia is the cannibalisation of opportunity through state competition policies and the "passing of the buck".
In their defence, dealing with the aboriginal people in Australia and their plight is not an easy task. It is made more complex and extremely diddiculty by the level of maturity and exerience, education and capacity of a great number of the aboriginal people themselves. They can be their own worst enemies. Billions have been spent on this small proportion of the Australian population, with little apparent result. Concurently with the resouces, time and taxing efforts, are decades of constant harping, by vocal aboriginal activists and supporters, which has among other things served to make white Australians deaf, immune and antagonistic.
There is a place near the border of NSW and Queensland in Australia, called the Gold Coast. It has long been a mecca of development and also of corruption. The Fitzgerald Royal Commission, decades ago, exposed the level of institutional corruption from the top of government, through the public service, to the private sector and into local government. That was decades ago. So what is different now? The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commision has completed an investigation and recommended charges be considered against six very high profile people living, and working, on the Gold Coast. They created a secret fund that was used in local government elections. They corrupted the process of democracy. When you look at the political preselection process for choosing candiadtes for parliament within the Australian Labor Party (the current state government) one might ask so why should these six be prosecuted. Have a look at the Seitz case in the Victorian section of this page. In NSW people who did similar things at local government level were kicked out by the state government. Not in Queensland. The local government minister, Mr. Desley Boyle says that she will not sack the Gold Coast City Council. According to the unqiue way Queensland operates its democracy there is no grounds for dismissal.
I was talking to a number of Queensland barristers, and police, about this and they simply said that's the way things are done here. As if this is a fact of life and one that the community must live with. It is okay in Queensland for local government councillors to have questionable relationships with property developers. It is quite okay for property developers to be involved in creating slush funds to try and manipulate elections. It is okay for a select few to deny voters the right to have ethically superior candiadtes. It is okay for these select few to steal the peoples' democracy at level of government in this state and similarly in every other state, under labor's corrupt ideologies and processes. It is said that "doing business in Queensland is different to the rest of Australia (extract from the Australian Financial Review, Friday 12 May, 2006: Report steps on white shoes, a comment rejected by the Crime and Misconduct Commission Chairman, Robert Needham.
It is not so much that doing busines is different as the politics of corruption is a modified in yoru face version of what occurs in most other labor governed states in the rest of Australia. Why is the labor party more likely to have seedy criminal links, and interaction with crooks of one type and the liberal party of another type? Do they divide up the action according to some unwritten set of guidelines? Perhaps this is just a reflection of how Australian society really functions.
Public Administration in Queensland
The logo, and invariably included statement in every piece of Queensland public sector documemtation, is the "Smart State". After some time anyone doing business regularly, or trying to deal with the government and public sector agencies, on innovative issues and new (perhaps even old) things realises that this is a hollow rhetoric created by the spin doctors of the government. "Smart" apparently is limited to sexy things like biotype sciences and such. Actually these are things that the decison makers rarely seem to grasp in depth but seem to feel are glamorous. The politicians, and the senior public servants, mighty not necessarily fit into the category of "smart".
So why is "smart" merely rhetoric? Well because the basic, fundamental things that one might expect governments to do well, they cannot handle. THey do not merely do badly, they fail dismally. As an aside the one thing they do do well is cover up and paper over with a slick media managed facade. The political machine of Peter Beattie's government also manages to threaten, cow and quieten their critics, internally and externally, quite expertly.
The most tellin example of "not smart" is the health crisis, people being maimed and dying, lack of health professionals, poor planning, deadly decisions, lack of attention and the extraordinary unimaginative performance of the Premier, Ministers and health bureaucrats which present a picture that is not "smart" at all. Ignorance and dereliction of duty can make Queensland a danegrous place. The state where unusual politicians
and bureaucrats, govern. Despite the claims of officials it is easy to attract doctors, nurses and allied professionals. The hurdles they have to jump, set in place by vested interests, are a major turn off. There is also a lack of lateral thinking. The Weekend Australian Newspaper, Agust 26 - 27, 2006, chronicles the list of "not so smart" activities and decisions or lack thereof. The conflict of interest, the poor choices for voters, in the Queensland election of 2006. It also poses that Ministers and back bench politicians fear the Premier, Peter Beattie. Mr. Beattie and his close team contain information to the point of making freedom of information ar farcical fantasy in Queensland. Why hide information? Well death, misery and ineptitude do not make good headlines particularly in an election year. Queensland under Labor Premier Beattie is stage managed and it is a place of image without a lot of substance at the public administration level.
The Queensland government is placing international advertisements, and advertisements in Australian media (cannibalising the rest of the nation's skill base and intensifying a national problem. This not short sighted, it is a tactical and calculated move. Continual growth masks problems and the failures of government. Look we scored another new venture in Queensland. They want busines to move their headquaters there. Never mind the substance of a business deal, the bureaucrats measure their success on a political yard stick, how many headquarters of a national, or multinational, business are there in Queensland that the government spin machine (which is oh so very large in number and cost) can publicise this month? They are using national, and international agents, to pursue their objectives.
This is a license to print money for the "in the club" players. Within this fanciful "smart sate" world are the restrictions on the public sector.
The Health Department bureaucrats, like the other "smart departments" are shackled by the Ministers and their advisers. They are stage managed also. The standard priorities apply, of keeping travel spending down, minimising costs, maintaining status and quo, and one of the most presing of objectives looking after their skins as Royal Commissions. the Crime and Misconduct Commision and all sorts of public and private enquiries, expose them and the media lists the failures - water, education, energy, transport, health, regional development and services.
Well surely the incumbent politicians, and bureaucrats, can't keep stuffing it up or can they? The Queensland government is putting peoples' health, well being and lives at risk. Yet it is predicted that the voters will reelect Peter Beattie. We can only wonder at the educated decisions of the population which seem to follow a pattern across the nation. A disengagement with democracy and government.
Labor Premier Peter Beattie presides over Australia's poorest public administration. The ineptitude of the Government, Ministers and Public Services Management pervades every portfolio with the most devastating display being in the health portfolio. It is not enough that the systems are substandard and the performances mediocre to something less than basic. People suffer and die in Queensland. On top of this labor ministers, like most Australian politicians, are believed to be liars. The Minister for Public Works, formerly Health Minister, Gordon Nuttall, has resigned his commission and parliament will decide if his lies before parliament are heinous. Why is it heinous to lie to parliament if it is accepted practice, across the nation, for governments to lie to the people who elect them? So Nuttall's fate is debated over five hours. What do we know from this? Is he a man who would lie to avoid accountability? Does he lack a moral cpmpass or a spine? The opposition naturally wants to refer him to the Director of Public Prosecutions to be criminally charged with lying. This is a jike surely? So what is the penalty having lost his ministerial roles but still keeping his parliamentary seat and pay packet? He has to apologise to parliament. here we can see a further definition of the man's character. He apologises without actually apologising for lying. He does not take accountability, or responsibility and there is only the remorse of his personal loss. Unbeknown to him his loss is one of respect as well as pecuniary. How long will he be in purgatory? Not all that long, for labor has a history of bringing people of questionable character, and judgement, back into significant roles.
Premier Peter Beattie may be a supremo spin artist, and actor, handling the media but his poor talent for appointing the wrong people to high level Ministerial, administrative and leadership roles is apparent. Only fools would celebrate "spin and media manipulation" as a skill set worthy of accolades in public office.
interests and victimisation
The not so Smart State after all
The Queensland government logo is the "Smart State". Examination of Queensland's political, institutional and public sector performance appears to indicate that this is just a slogan and it is like most political communications efforts, a misrepresentation, built on spin and a false bravado without ensuring that the foundations to deliver are in place. The spin doctors dream up these drivel slogans and they sell it to the politicians. In doing so they leave the government open to to questions that political parties place image, and spin, above substance and efficiency. The 'Smart State" theme was originally invented for positioning Queensland as the "bio-medical science" capital of Australia and a world contributor, and it just grew from there to become the state brand. The Premier, Peter Beattie, is fighting fires in Queensland Health. Prior to the last election Queensland was rocked with child abuse cases and the failure to protect children. All these catastrophes, and more described below, are a direct outcome of poor bureaucratic performance, management and incompetence. Senior public service personnel and stakeholder participants in many areas, where significant dysfunction, misery and even death are occurring, appear more intetrested in protecting their own skins and scurrying away from accountability. In this they are to be condemned, shunned and should be driven from public office.
The litany of mismanagement and poor governance within the Queensland public service continued with the energy crisis, and suicide of a senior energy executive.
The government and the public service still failed to protect children years later.
The Morris enquiry into multiple deaths and the failures of Queensland health in Bundaberg
and claims of endemic failures. In Queensland's parliament, national party member Rob Mesenger raised the issue of failures in the health system naming the performance of some people. This is actually one of the roles of a functioning parliament and any consequences on individuals and their rights are outweighed by the public interest it is meant to serve. The Queensand Minister for Health attacked the member and the Premier, in typical parrot fashion, with little deep thought as to the above justification, rushed in. Now they look stupid and ignorant but neither are aware of that since parliament, and democracy, are the personal provinces and playgrounds of politicians and not institutions where people serve the citizien. Toni Hoffman, a nurse at Bundeaberg, sought against typial power colective ignorance at every level to protect the public interest. The bureaucrats, stakeholders, and the labor party politial members did not. Beattie has a standard line and solemn face that he uses to deal with failure, misery and death on his government's watch. It is to immediately come clean and have an enquiry. His words are telling, "If we get the results out this enquiry we will save money." This is a primary motivation in modern politics - money. However there is obviously a problem in the methodology of selecting senior managers in the Queensland public service system and a lack of expertise in functional areas of the private sector which interact, such as health and medicine, transport, electricity, community services and so on
Peter Beattie relies upon his smooth smooth ability, communications and media savvy to deal with these inadequacies He firstly apologises unlike the main players who purpetrate the crisis and then he either refers the mattter to the Crime and Miscobduct Commission, or creates a Royal Commission, to investigate. He does not try and cover up and he really if ever dissembles. He is distinctly different in this regard to other state leaders such as Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria who demonstrates either disregard for, or a lack of understanding of, the place of integrity and standards in public office. Beattie does not use the power of the state, and office, against people nor does he leave the door open for cheats to return to the fold.
Politically, retaining office is a far more realistic objective than taking an altruistic view of the role of what it is to be Premier and to run a government. One flaw in the model in Australia is the tendency towards Presidential leadership in an ancient Westminister system
Many of the above breakdowns in public office and service delivery are life threatening performance issues. The example given below is minor by comparison but it does demonstrate that the "Smart State", may be a hollow advertising slogan where even the simplest tasks, and systems, available in most other jurisdictions in Australia are very real challenges for the Queensland government departments. The whole of government approach means that the lowest perfrming departments and managers can degrade the better ones reducing eveything to a slow, cumbersome and dysfunctional system. The creators of the whole of government theoretical model are wedded to it and are prepared to entertain collateral damage rather than say that they have no real managerial, and operational, capacities.
Applicants applying to Education Queeensland for a job are required to submit three hard copies by post. There are exceptions. I was lead to ask why the Smart State required this archaic method? Here is an extract from the hard copy reply of 26 May 2005, to my electronic email, which inter alia, says they are investigating electronic lodgement. The Queensland public service has a long record of investigating and prevaricating over every matter, large, small, vital or trivial.
The Minister for Education and the Arts, Anna Bligh, MP, has referred you letter to me ...the requirement for an applicant to submit several copies of their application in hard copy is a requirement regardless whether the applicant is a current Education Queensland employee or not. Human Resource Services has trialled the electronic lodgement of applications for employment. Security and other issues are still bein investigated. For this reason applications at this point must be submitted by post. Where and applicant ... resides in a location where ,ail services are irregular ...they are ... able to negotiate electronic lodgement..... There is no doubt that electronic submission of applications would provide a benefit to the Department. For this reason the Department is committed to negotiate electronic lodgement ...this will reduce the cost of lodging an application with the department.
A/Assistant Director General
Some weeks later I received another letter from Stan Sielaff, A/Assistant Director-General, Shared Services. INter alia, Stan writes, "Education Queensland is committed to the facility for electronic lodgement of applications. However, the Queensland Government is developing a new Whole of Government Human Rsource System which will have this facility incorporated. For Education Queensland to develop this process indepndently would not be the most effective use of resources as it would be duplicating a process already being developed."
The response raises a number of interesting questions. The use of email, with an attachment, is apparently a novel process, beyond comprehension, not in use in the department? One wonders who anyone gets an email from an external individual such as myself, in order to send a printed reply? Obviously politicians have this wondrous technology. There is some "magical difference" in this standardised worlwide technology when applied to making applications for employment. The second question is why anyone would pursue a path of developing a single technology system of such monolithic proportions when gateway network technology, and differing software integration, including the ability for diverse system to talk is is a proven technology? The cost of such systems develpment is the most expensive, and technically difficult, approach. One only has to ask Centerlink, the Australian taxation office and the federal Department of Finance or to look at John Fahey's experience when in office. Economic justifications for designing a common federal technology system was $1 billion dollars. It turned out to be a fantasy. It is unlikely, given the examples herein, that the "whole of government" technology approach in Queensland will break new ground and set new records in success where others have failed. Efficiency, and public service, takes a back seat to the theory of "shared services" and such methodologies and must be defended because it keeps people in jobs for a very long time, developing this wondrous marvel whilst everyone else can wait. The external applicant has to pay for the cost of their hard copy application, the internal applicant has major advantages, apart from incumbency in the organisation, they also get to use the wordprocessors, the photocopiers and the stationery, at their work place, assuming that they have these inventions, and are not waiting for the "whole of photocopier" aproach to be developed. Then they can put their application in the internal mail bag.
If the public servants in Queensland cannot handle simple then what chances are there that they will handle the complex?
Di Fingleton, former Chief Magistrate, jailed by the Queensland courts demonstrates that ineptitude and substandard decison making has pervaded the Queensland legal system. The Fitzgerald enquiry into police, and political corruption, under Premier Jo Bjelke Peterson had left a stain and many hoped that the notion of separation of powers had become well and truly embedded in Queensland. Di Fingleton casts a new pall over the quality of justice from the highest legal office holder, the Attorney General, through the court to the highest judge of the state. The High Court was scathing in its judgement of the quality of law and decision making.
Yet the Attorney General says, in the first instance, that he is disinclined to give Ms Fingleton her job back. Then he changes his mind a few days later and says that she should be reinstated as Chief Magistrate. Peter Beattie disagrees. This is the stuff of arrogance and unethical judgements based on political rather than moral considerations. Does the Queensland Attorney General imply that the High Court's judgement is irrelevant to his world? The political tool of character assassination is brought to bear as her work as Chief Magistrate is described as being not all that flash. At least there is consistency. Di Fingleton is being denied a return to her job by colleagues and others whose own performance is less than stellar and who place, political expediency and personal interests, above ethics, morality and realistic assessment of their own contributions to the public benefit.
The governments of Australia all enact a similar fantasy, creating a type of commercial competition in their enterprises. The Queensland government, for example, requires their public sector entities to compete in national, and international, markets, with one of the most well known being the national (which exists in name only) electricity market. These entities have business operations interstate, in education, energy, bioscience and other "smart state" strategic deployments. The managers of these businesses require the relevant Minister's approval every time they want to travel interstate to visit, or work, in their offices. This is the not the stuff of "smart" it is the management style of control minded people, who want centralised systems and structures. They play at commercial games and delude themselves. Remarkably Peter Beattie is one of the best political operators that the labor party has in Australia and he walks a lonely road in this regard. There are no other stellar types that jump out at one, when interacting with labor governments, across Australia. Success in politics appears to have little relationship with success in managing public enterprise and service.
Problems emerge when conflicting theories, practices and systems, are in operation. At the top of the Queensland, and similarly in any state or territory system in Australia, is the government.
Under Australia's model of government power is vested in the executive and not in the parliament. In the federal structure there is a lower and upper house with defined procedures and responsibilities within the Constitution creating checks and balances. No such system exists in Queensland since there is no upper house. The government defines policy and direction. Over time the executive, and Ministers, have taken on a managerial style role on top of their parliamentary and government policy, regardless of qualification, experience and skill. The public service has become government service. New managerial systems have been imposed with little thought to how change and culture are affected or resistance is mounted. It is a top down system of imposed direction. Despite the claim that the whole of government approach is "outcomes" based, this is not so. It is input and output based model which is completely different. In times gone by the bureaucracy was input focused, as it built its internal assets, power and structure. Codification of management principles has been a cosmetic exercise masking retention of the old hierarchical models of control.
A conflict has developed between these old methodologies, and structures which are retained and the new total quality management practices of the private sector which have been introduced into the bureaucracy by the political master. Total Quality Management assumes that the focus of effort is delivering value to an end recipient. This is the glssy brichure and annual report of the department which is shaped by the Minister to look its best for their political interest not the citizen's interest.
Bureacracies such as Queensland Health, are very complex indeed, with medical practitioner stakeholders, administrators, accountants, nurses, bureaucrats, politicians and patients all intermingling with different expectations and objectives. This places the organisation in a world of purgatory. Despite the fine words and managerial exercises, the worst of public administration lurks deep inside. A hierarchical structure of formal authority exists, the communications network is hierarchical and formal. There are extensive systems of formal rules. There are also informal structures of authority, informal and personal communications and formal impersonality of operations mingled with intense personal loyalty and personal involvement among officials in the highest ranks of the hierarchy. (Stewart, R.G. Public Policy, 1999).
The situation in Queensland's public enterprises is common. Personal, and political, power trying to retain control, poor management and conflicting interests. There can be no constancy of purpose towards improvement in such environments and public sector managers, and others with deep involvement,can apparently live with delays, mistakes, defective systems and procedures and defective workmanship if the primary goal is maintenance, control and protection of self. Thus when a nurse blows the whistle on a doctor, on senior management and the members of the hierarchy the reactions, responses and retaliations are as we openly observe. The person is victimised, threatened and isolated. When hierarchy, and interest, is threatened, in the health system, in the legal system, in utilities and so on, the mechanisms of protection in politics, administration and all the other affected elements trigger. It is not until a journalist enquiring into the matter probes a spotlight on the players that the real world emerges. The politicians invariably express shock along with many others in the hierarchy. It is feigned because they are all willing participants in the theatre. This practice of merging political and public service and other interests into a "whole system" is an unhealthy, and dangerous environment, in which to work and be a participant.