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Canberra growing fat on a nation’s suffering?

By 15 December 2011 57

The Daily Telegraph is incensed with the rising wages of the top end of the public service:

Now comes shock news of further federal government largesse, this time directed towards Canberra’s ever-expanding top tier of public servants, some of whom will now haul in annual salaries beyond $700,000.

Once public service pay hits the half-million mark, surely the phrase “public servant” requires some revision. Just who is being served here? It hasn’t escaped the notice of those who frequently travel between our various capitals that Canberra features a disproportionate number of building sites for big new hotels.

While most state capitals are working hard just to maintain some momentum in a tight financial era, Canberra is growing fat on big public service expansions.

That expansion is taking place mostly at the very top of the public service, where pay is already extremely generous. Lower-level public servants – those who actually have to deal directly with the public – are set for far less extravagant wage rises.

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57 Responses to Canberra growing fat on a nation’s suffering?
#31
Jim Jones4:21 pm, 15 Dec 11

Classified said :

Some very good points, especially about Canberra and the RiotACT not being representative of wider Australia.

Australia isn’t a homogenous nation – the very idea of ‘being representative of wider Australia’ is a bit of a misnomer.

#32
Mess4:29 pm, 15 Dec 11

“It hasn’t escaped the notice of those who frequently travel between our various capitals that Canberra features a disproportionate number of building sites for big new hotels.”

Erg0 said :

Where are all these big new hotels they’re talking about? Other than the The Realm/Burbury precinct, I can’t think of any others that have opened recently or are currently being built.

For that matter, can anyone explain to me what hotel development has to do with Canberra’s prosperity? Surely that relates more to the prosperity of our visitors.

+1
What a crock. They aren’t building any new hotels in Canberra at the moment, in fact one of them is getting knocked down (The Marque) and replaced with apartment blocks.

#33
Classified4:37 pm, 15 Dec 11

Jim Jones said :

Classified said :

Some very good points, especially about Canberra and the RiotACT not being representative of wider Australia.

Australia isn’t a homogenous nation – the very idea of ‘being representative of wider Australia’ is a bit of a misnomer.

Agreed, and yet there are people I know who live in ACT who think that the rest of Australia is like here…

#34
drfelonious6:58 pm, 15 Dec 11

Stories like this one in the Tele help to ensure that when the Liberals next come to power they will cut the bejesus out of the APS just for the hell of it.
Is it just me, or has the standard of political debate sunk to new lows in the last decade?
I seem to remember that the likes of Keating and Whitlam were quite ready to ignore rubbish rank populist gnat-like intelligence arguments and on occasion even told people peddling such rubbish to go stick it. Even Fraser and Howard (early years) didn’t seem to care much for the Tele, and I imagine Menzies must not have done so otherwise Canberra would never have been built up in the 50s and 60s!
Meanwhile the current crop put the brown undies on at the slightest hint they might cop a burst from the likes of Ray Hadley or the Tele. While I’m on the subject, the lack of leadership is probably a big part of the reason why the infrastructure in this country is so shite. I mean can you imagine any politician embarking on a big nation-building project now – they’re all too worried that they might get bagged in the Tele so they won’t put themselves out there.

#35
LSWCHP7:04 pm, 15 Dec 11

Classified said :

Jim Jones said :

Classified said :

Some very good points, especially about Canberra and the RiotACT not being representative of wider Australia.

Australia isn’t a homogenous nation – the very idea of ‘being representative of wider Australia’ is a bit of a misnomer.

Agreed, and yet there are people I know who live in ACT who think that the rest of Australia is like here…

Yeah. I recently spent a weekend in a country town in central NSW. Attitudes, speech patterns, expectations, incomes, life expectancy (deduced from universal smoking habits)…they were all different to anything you’d find anywhere in Canberra.

So, should we make things in Canberra more like that? Or would Australia be a better place if other populations centres had the amenities and opportunities that we have here?

Yes, I’m actually proposing that it would be a good thing if the rest of Australia looked more like Canberra. I wonder what the Just Grounds Truckie Protest lurkers think about that?

#36
LSWCHP9:32 pm, 15 Dec 11

drfelonious said :

I seem to remember that the likes of Keating and Whitlam were quite ready to ignore rubbish rank populist gnat-like intelligence arguments and on occasion even told people peddling such rubbish to go stick it. .

Oh yeah, spot on. Our political “leaders” are gutless wimps who live in fear of media buffoons like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones.

How can they be so stupid that they don’t realise that almost everybody in the country would *love* to see a show of spine, and a bit of biff instead of their usual nauseating acquiescence and unjustified politeness? I dream about the day Julia goes on Jones’s show, and tells him to go pound sand up his flabby arse. Those clowns show respect to nobody, and it’s about time that someone with some weight fired back at them…someone they couldn’t hang up on.

Let’s get a bit of mongrel into the public debate.

#37
Mumbucks10:12 pm, 15 Dec 11

poetix said :

Postalgeek said :

100% of RiotAct will happily tell you 50% of RiotAct is isolated from reality. Don’t need stats for that.

You’re wrong! Just wrong!

You’re wrong no you can’t be. I was wrong first!

#38
justin heywood10:59 pm, 15 Dec 11

LSWCHP said :

Yeah. I recently spent a weekend in a country town in central NSW. Attitudes, speech patterns, expectations, incomes, life expectancy (deduced from universal smoking habits)…they were all different to anything you’d find anywhere in Canberra.

So, should we make things in Canberra more like that? Or would Australia be a better place if other populations centres had the amenities and opportunities that we have here?

Yes, I’m actually proposing that it would be a good thing if the rest of Australia looked more like Canberra. I wonder what the Just Grounds Truckie Protest lurkers think about that?

Well you might need more than a ‘weekend in a country town’ before you make sweeping statements like the rest of your post.

But yes indeed, lets ‘make things more like they are in Canberra’. Let every town have a huge employer like the public service so that everyone can be paid well on a 37.5 hour week and not worry too much about losing their job or their business going bust.

Canberra was built by the sweat of the bogans of western Sydney and the rednecks of the country towns, which so many of you seem to despise. No surprise then that many of them resent the fact that their money was (and is) used to build and to run an artificial town that they feel is increasingly removed from their reality.

In my opinion many Canberrans are out of touch – so out of touch that it never occurs to them that Canberra lives off the collective fat of the land. To suggest that they should get of their collective arses and become ‘more like us’ is just as ignorant as the Tele article.

#39
Diggety2:45 am, 16 Dec 11

Skidbladnir said :

“How dare those public servants responsible for budgets which can be measured in percentages of GDP be paid a fraction of their Private Sector equivalent!

Skid, you really need to learn the difference between what is yours, and what is not yours.

Hint: search for more objective and independent information sources, rather than the Australian Council of Trade Unions website.

#40
Deref8:58 am, 16 Dec 11

Mumbucks said :

poetix said :

Postalgeek said :

100% of RiotAct will happily tell you 50% of RiotAct is isolated from reality. Don’t need stats for that.

You’re wrong! Just wrong!

You’re wrong no you can’t be. I was wrong first!

I was wrong once. I remember it. I thought I’d made a mistake, but I hadn’t. So I was wrong.

#41
Skidbladnir9:01 am, 16 Dec 11

Skidbladnir said :

Hint: search for more objective and independent information sources, rather than the Australian Council of Trade Unions website.

Mistake #1: Taking me seriously.

#42
harvyk19:02 am, 16 Dec 11

justin heywood said :

In my opinion many Canberrans are out of touch – so out of touch that it never occurs to them that Canberra lives off the collective fat of the land. To suggest that they should get of their collective arses and become ‘more like us’ is just as ignorant as the Tele article.

I’m going to call absolute BS on that one… As a city of people we are just as in touch with the rest of Australia as the rest of Australia is in touch with the real Canberra. Most people who sprout that we are different to the rest of Australia also usually believes the Canberra bashing articles are based on solid fact.

Being relatively well traveled I fell quite confident in saying that we in Canberra have the same problems as the rest of Australia, we are lucky that our major industry doesn’t quite have the peak and troughs that other industries have. But there are other parts of Australia who are well and truly seeing a peak. Been to Perth of late?

I would say we’re out of touch with the western Sydney bogan, I’ll admit that (but at the same token the western Sydney bogan doesn’t know of real Canberra, they assume that we’re all pollies). But that’s hardly a yardstick worthy of being measured against.

#43
fgzk9:19 am, 16 Dec 11

Justin Heywood, your not from Canberra, are you. A lot of people move to Canberra from all over Australia. That keeps us in touch. There is a Canberra saying ” You have to leave to become someone, but you will return.” So I don’t see how we could be out of touch. You could argue Canberrans are far more in touch. A multistate Territory.

#44
dpm9:55 am, 16 Dec 11

justin heywood said :

…In my opinion many Canberrans are out of touch – so out of touch that it never occurs to them that Canberra lives off the collective fat of the land. To suggest that they should get of their collective arses and become ‘more like us’ is just as ignorant as the Tele article.

Just like most Australians (incl Canberrans) are ‘out of touch’ with how people are living in Western Africa, or are ‘out of touch’ with how Donald Trump is living. I’d say the majority of people on this earth have people living differently (so called) ‘above’ and ‘below’ them. It’s all kinda relative. Should everyone feel guilty that some are ‘below’ and feel jealous that some are ‘above’ them?
Really, as long as I’m enjoying my life, I couln’t give a rats about how the Joneses are living above me. I do however, feel for people living in poverty. For that, all I’ve managed to do is donate to certain causes. Not sure if that helps though…… :-(

#45
Classified10:24 am, 16 Dec 11

fgzk said :

There is a Canberra saying ” You have to leave to become someone, but you will return.”

I’ve lived here my whole life, and never heard that saying.

#46
Stevian10:34 am, 16 Dec 11

Classified said :

fgzk said :

There is a Canberra saying ” You have to leave to become someone, but you will return.”

I’ve lived here my whole life, and never heard that saying.

Neither have I, maybe it’s because we’re out of touch

#47
Jim Jones10:38 am, 16 Dec 11

justin heywood said :

LSWCHP said :

Yeah. I recently spent a weekend in a country town in central NSW. Attitudes, speech patterns, expectations, incomes, life expectancy (deduced from universal smoking habits)…they were all different to anything you’d find anywhere in Canberra.

So, should we make things in Canberra more like that? Or would Australia be a better place if other populations centres had the amenities and opportunities that we have here?

Yes, I’m actually proposing that it would be a good thing if the rest of Australia looked more like Canberra. I wonder what the Just Grounds Truckie Protest lurkers think about that?

Well you might need more than a ‘weekend in a country town’ before you make sweeping statements like the rest of your post.

But yes indeed, lets ‘make things more like they are in Canberra’. Let every town have a huge employer like the public service so that everyone can be paid well on a 37.5 hour week and not worry too much about losing their job or their business going bust.

Canberra was built by the sweat of the bogans of western Sydney and the rednecks of the country towns, which so many of you seem to despise. No surprise then that many of them resent the fact that their money was (and is) used to build and to run an artificial town that they feel is increasingly removed from their reality.

In my opinion many Canberrans are out of touch – so out of touch that it never occurs to them that Canberra lives off the collective fat of the land. To suggest that they should get of their collective arses and become ‘more like us’ is just as ignorant as the Tele article.

If the redneck bogans in Western Sydney are the ‘real’ Australia, then the country’s in a really f$%cking bad way.

#48
NoImRight10:52 am, 16 Dec 11

Living of the fat of the land implies we are gaining from the work of others. Somewhat literally i guess public servants are in that their salaries come from Government funds not automatically generated by their particular departments. A little unfair though as they also are performing taks that, usually, are needed but the general public just seems to think happen by magic. People probably dont mind taxes going to build a road but resent paying the public servant who arranges the salary payments for the guys that prepare the budgets that define the tender process etc etc etc. Well you get my point.

Its a generalision too that we perceive “bogans” or whatever term you prefer as more than likley unemployed. So are they not living of “the collective fat of the land” too?

Also wouldnt the fat of the land always be “collective”?

#49
Postalgeek11:03 am, 16 Dec 11

Stevian said :

Classified said :

fgzk said :

There is a Canberra saying ” You have to leave to become someone, but you will return.”

I’ve lived here my whole life, and never heard that saying.

Neither have I, maybe it’s because we’re out of touch

Or perhaps because it’s a naff saying?

#50
Diggety11:20 am, 16 Dec 11

Skidbladnir said :

Diggety said :

Hint: search for more objective and independent information sources, rather than the Australian Council of Trade Unions website.

Mistake #1: Taking me seriously.

Mea culpa…

#51
Deref12:48 pm, 16 Dec 11

Jezuz, people. This is the Daily Telegraph! What do you expect? Journalism?

#52
poetix1:24 pm, 16 Dec 11

Deref said :

Jezuz, people. This is the Daily Telegraph! What do you expect? Journalism?

I do like the way David Penberthy writes though. How, not what. Usually, anyway.

#53
alaninoz2:51 pm, 16 Dec 11

fgzk said :

Justin Heywood, your not from Canberra, are you. A lot of people move to Canberra from all over Australia. That keeps us in touch.

No, it means you might have been in touch at some time. Then again you might never have been in touch with the majority of Australians – depends on where you were in the demographics.

We all tend to think that the rest of Canberra/Australia/ the world is just like us, but it generally isn’t so. This is a particular problem in Canberra where the population is relatively small and the average income is high.

I doubt that Canberra fat cats are living off “the western Sydney bogan” though. According to the ATO (http://www.ato.gov.au/content/00274214.htm?headline=100people&segment=home) in the 2008/2009 tax year the 9% of people with the highest taxable income payed 49%of the income tax collected. I realise this doesn’t include GST, but regardless, if Canberra is riding on on the back of the “bogans” there’s are some damn rich bogans out there!

#54
Stevian3:36 pm, 16 Dec 11

It’s seems the majority of Australians cannot distinguish between “Canberra– the seat of government|” and Canberra–a place where many average Australians live and work. Many of us do not work for the Public Service and most of us who do are merely minor functionaries in the great machine. So I ask you. Who is really out of touch?

#55
Little_Green_Bag4:57 pm, 16 Dec 11

Stevian said :

It’s seems the majority of Australians cannot distinguish between “Canberra– the seat of government|” and Canberra–a place where many average Australians live and work.

I remember in 1979 when a group of Canberra business leaders began a campaign to stop the media using the word Canberra as shorthand for unpopular government decisions (eg: “Canberra to raise taxes”). They suggested Fed Gov be substituted.

A few days later I picked up a copy of The Australian and there were headlines featuring the word “Canberra” (ie: the federal government) on almost every page. And yes, on the front page the main headline was “Canberra to raise taxes”.

#56
dpm6:15 pm, 16 Dec 11

Little_Green_Bag said :

I remember in 1979 when a group of Canberra business leaders began a campaign to stop the media using the word Canberra as shorthand for unpopular government decisions (eg: “Canberra to raise taxes”). They suggested Fed Gov be substituted.

A few days later I picked up a copy of The Australian and there were headlines featuring the word “Canberra” (ie: the federal government) on almost every page. And yes, on the front page the main headline was “Canberra to raise taxes”.

I find that frustrating too! They should say something like: ‘The pollies from all around Australia, who were voted in by people from all around Australia, decided x…’!

#57
LSWCHP8:43 pm, 16 Dec 11

justin heywood said :

LSWCHP said :

Yeah. I recently spent a weekend in a country town in central NSW. Attitudes, speech patterns, expectations, incomes, life expectancy (deduced from universal smoking habits)…they were all different to anything you’d find anywhere in Canberra.

So, should we make things in Canberra more like that? Or would Australia be a better place if other populations centres had the amenities and opportunities that we have here?

Well you might need more than a ‘weekend in a country town’ before you make sweeping statements like the rest of your post.

But yes indeed, lets ‘make things more like they are in Canberra’. Let every town have a huge employer like the public service so that everyone can be paid well on a 37.5 hour week and not worry too much about losing their job or their business going bust.

My family are mostly dirt farmers from rural northern NSW. I was born in a village of a couple of hundred people. My parents rode horses to school and read by kerosene lanterns. I didn’t wear shoes to school until we moved to a larger rural town when I was 10. All of my relatives live in small towns in rural NSW. I know a lot more about life in rural NSW than you might imagine. And none of us work in the public service.

What I was suggesting was that it would be good if we could raise the societal bar for all communities across Australia so that education, health care and employment opportunities like we have here are available to everybody.

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