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The Liberals Andrew Robb appears to be off his meds as he proposes outsourcing public service activity to the States

By 22 August 2012 37

The Financial Review has a story on Federal Coalition finance and deregulation spokesman Andrew Robb and his big bold idea of cutting the Public Service here in Canberra by outsourcing the work to State bureaucracies.

The Coalition plans to “outsource” administration of a vast swath of federal policy – including health and education – to state government bureaucracies, potentially saving billions of dollars.

Federal Coalition finance and deregulation spokesman Andrew Robb said the opposition was looking to use its planned handover of administration of environmental laws to the states as a model for other areas, both to reduce red tape and to cut thousands of federal public servants from the payroll.

The federal government would not abandon its own policies under the plan, Mr Robb told The Australian Financial Review, but states would act as agents for the commonwealth in administering federal policies.

Getting often hostile states as monopoly vendors to administer Government policy appears to tick every single one of The seven deadly sins of outsourcing.

It is such a spectacularly stupid idea one has to wonder where Mr Robb is in his long and storied battle with mental illness.

There are a great many things that could be cut in the public service. But hoping to magic costs onto the States is not going to lead to policy delivery.

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37 Responses to The Liberals Andrew Robb appears to be off his meds as he proposes outsourcing public service activity to the States
#1
ainsliebraddon1:09 pm, 22 Aug 12

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

#2
Thumper1:43 pm, 22 Aug 12

Outsourcing to the ACT PS?

Completely and utterly ridiculous.

#3
davo1011:44 pm, 22 Aug 12

As a state public servant I’m quite happy to implement Commonwealth policies–for a small fee.

Cash registers must be ringing in more than a few state treasuries.

#4
Madam Cholet1:53 pm, 22 Aug 12

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

+1

#5
johnboy1:57 pm, 22 Aug 12

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

Which is why I’m asking the question very seriously.

This will not achieve the stated goal.

What it might do is end Government provision of health, education, and environmental safeguards.

If that’s the planned goal we might want them to be a little more upfront about it.

#6
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd2:01 pm, 22 Aug 12

lol just lol

yes lets cut even more jobs in the act

#7
Duffbowl2:10 pm, 22 Aug 12

Putting aside JB’s fairly large faux pas, it seems a bit of a ridiculous option.

Outsourcing services to other government departments has not produced savings at the Federal level, where it has already occurred. From personal experience, the department as service provider has taken the worst of both PS and outsourcer servicing methods and combined them for a “worst practice” approach.

Also, given that the conservative states are busy slashing back office positions, how the hell could they take it on? It may be easier and cost less money to scrap the states, expand some local government services, and drop to two tiers.

#8
schmeah2:12 pm, 22 Aug 12

One assumes that should public services be outsourced to the states, the states will want compensation for taking on additional staff given they can’t afford the ones they have at the moment .. not sure how this will save any money in the long run, especially if one takes into account productivity losses as a result of having to train staff in whatever it is Robb is talking about.

#9
nsn2:18 pm, 22 Aug 12

Duffbowl said :

Putting aside JB’s fairly large faux pas, it seems a bit of a ridiculous option.

It isn’t a faux pas when someone is intentionally offensive.

#10
cmdwedge2:25 pm, 22 Aug 12

nsn said :

Duffbowl said :

Putting aside JB’s fairly large faux pas, it seems a bit of a ridiculous option.

It isn’t a faux pas when someone is intentionally offensive.

+2

#11
milkman2:38 pm, 22 Aug 12

It’s like a race to the bottom with our pollies. What a retarded idea.

#12
colourful sydney rac2:39 pm, 22 Aug 12

Madam Cholet said :

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

+1

+2

#13
Deref2:45 pm, 22 Aug 12

I was tempted to say that it’s unsurprising for this pack of radical right loonies. But this is surprisingly stupid, even for them.

Duffbowl said :

Outsourcing services to other government departments has not produced savings at the Federal level, where it has already occurred. From personal experience, the department as service provider has taken the worst of both PS and outsourcer servicing methods and combined them for a “worst practice” approach.

+1

One very apt definition of stupidity is “trying something, finding it doesn’t work, and continuing to do it”.

#14
milkman2:53 pm, 22 Aug 12

Deref said :

I was tempted to say that it’s unsurprising for this pack of radical right loonies. But this is surprisingly stupid, even for them.

Duffbowl said :

Outsourcing services to other government departments has not produced savings at the Federal level, where it has already occurred. From personal experience, the department as service provider has taken the worst of both PS and outsourcer servicing methods and combined them for a “worst practice” approach.

+1

One very apt definition of stupidity is “trying something, finding it doesn’t work, and continuing to do it”.

+2. And the disadvantage of outsourcing to other parts of government is it’s practically impossible to impose sanctions for poor performance. At least when you outsource to the private sector, people’s nuts get put on the line.

#15
Chop712:54 pm, 22 Aug 12

Why should JB tip toe around the issue? Isn’t he just calling a spade a spade.

#16
milkman3:08 pm, 22 Aug 12

Chop71 said :

Why should JB tip toe around the issue? Isn’t he just calling a spade a spade.

Absolutely. Much like recently calling a tranny a tranny.

#17
PBO3:30 pm, 22 Aug 12

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

+1

cmdwedge said :

nsn said :

Duffbowl said :

Putting aside JB’s fairly large faux pas, it seems a bit of a ridiculous option.

It isn’t a faux pas when someone is intentionally offensive.

+2

ainsliebraddon said :

Given that Andrew Robb has had a well documented battle with depression, I find the heading “appears to be off his meds” particularly distasteful.

+1

+2

And now we know who is taking medication.

milkman said :

Chop71 said :

Why should JB tip toe around the issue? Isn’t he just calling a spade a spade.

Absolutely. Much like recently calling a tranny a tranny.

+1

#18
dpm3:50 pm, 22 Aug 12

milkman said :

Chop71 said :

Why should JB tip toe around the issue? Isn’t he just calling a spade a spade.

Absolutely. Much like recently calling a tranny a tranny.

Yes, kinda unfortunate all round. Perhaps it highlights that you should no longer use ‘off his/her meds’ to refer to anyone who is (even thought to be) on medication. i.e. It can only be used for people not on medication to ensure no offence is caused.
Much like you should only use ‘ranga’ to refer to people who do *not* have red hair, or only use ‘lard arse’ to refer to people who are skinny?

Maybe ‘The Liberals Andrew Robb appears to be a little bit out of sorts* as he proposes outsourcing public service activity to the States’ would have been more appropriate?
*Though, you would then have to qualify that statement with ‘In this writer’s opinion’ to ensure it wasn’t misconstrued with the general consensus…..
Actually, best to stick to the facts, go low risk and change it to ‘The Liberals Andrew Robb proposes outsourcing public service activity to the States’.
Something like the ABC:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-22/coalition-federalism-plan-under-fire/4215490

Though, I notice Tanya Plibersek said: “I think the idea that (Opposition finance spokesman) Andrew Robb just hands over responsibility to the states and suddenly things are going to get better is muddle-headed in the extreme,” ! Distasteful?
Not trying to be a smart arse, just pondering where the line is drawn on distasteful comments.

#19
breda4:07 pm, 22 Aug 12

It’s not ‘outsourcing’ to allow the States to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities. The Commonwealth has been steadily usurping the States’ responsibilities for decades, via the skewed tax system which has resulted in cost-shifting and blame-shifting to no good effect.

Anyone who believes that a bunch of bureaucrats in Canberra adding further layers of complexity to service delivery improves things for the people at the coalface is living in fairyland. If the States were truly responsible, they would be held to account by the electorate. As it is, they can blame the Feds for everything, quite often with good reason.

The principle of subsidiarity, ie devolving decision-making as closely as possible to the people directly involved and affected, seems to have been lost. Instead, we have empire-builders in the Commonwealth such as abound in the health and education areas (to name two that are clearly State responsibilities) shrouding service providers with red tape in the form of reporting requirements, KPIs and all the rest.

Having worked at both the pointy end and the policy level in a State government, I doubt that many Canberrans realise how destructive and demoralising the ever tightening Commonwealth octopus on service delivery is at ground level.

#20
Pork Hunt4:11 pm, 22 Aug 12

Just don’t mention his eyebrows ffs…

#21
johnboy4:13 pm, 22 Aug 12

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

#22
Pork Hunt4:27 pm, 22 Aug 12

johnboy said :

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

Smartest thing you have ever said JB particularly when the various State governments can be Labour, Liberal or ones controlled by the Greens.
A policy nightmare.
Throw in the Commonwealths right to override State laws and you have a right kerfuffle.

#23
Chop714:30 pm, 22 Aug 12

Pork Hunt said :

johnboy said :

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

Smartest thing you have ever said JB particularly when the various State governments can be Labour, Liberal or ones controlled by the Greens.
A policy nightmare.
Throw in the Commonwealths right to override State laws and you have a right kerfuffle.

…and they are all on different medications

#24
davo1014:38 pm, 22 Aug 12

johnboy said :

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

I think he understands that. At the end of the article he imagines the new federal public service as:
a squad of experienced people within a sector whose job it is to ensure standards are being met and to have sufficient penalties.

Which I think will be the stumbling block. As much as the states would love to get some “free” money I think they’ll be reluctant to sign up to a system with random inspections by the feds and being hit with random fines.

#25
johnboy4:40 pm, 22 Aug 12

If you can’t take your business elsewhere it’s a banjoed model.

#26
colourful sydney rac4:53 pm, 22 Aug 12

johnboy said :

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

+1

#27
breda5:07 pm, 22 Aug 12

jb, your assumption that everyone has to sing off the same hymn sheet is at the core of the problem. The fact is, the hymn sheet is likely to be quite different in Tasmania than in North Queensland or remote parts of WA. The Commonwealth’s stupid attempts to impose a one-size-fits all model is the opposite of achieving good outcomes across this huge and diverse nation.

As for claims that States might actually exercise democracy by having governments of different political complexions – well, that says it all. The idea that people should be able to choose to diverge from the views of those in other States must be crushed, crushed, I say! in the interests of uniformity and bureaucratic neatness.

The Commonwealth knows s.f.a. about service delivery, as its recent forays have demonstrated. All their interventions have done is make life more complicated, less flexible and very frustrating for those at the coalface.

As for the megalomaniacal desire of the Commonwealth to make everything uniform, there is much to be said for competitive Federalism – and if you haven’t read about it, it likely doesn’t mean what you think it means. Indeed, federalism, based on the division of powers and responsibilities, is at the heart of the Constitution.

Those who want the Feds to control everything should be careful what they wish for.

#28
Diggety5:59 pm, 22 Aug 12

A lot of this should be privatised, but handing it to the states is the next best thing.

#29
kakosi7:06 pm, 22 Aug 12

johnboy said :

The point Breda, is that Commonwealth Public Servants work (more or less) to the policy goals of the Commonwealth Minister.

The State public servants will work to the goals of the State Ministers.

Those goals will not always be in alignment.

Agree, and it’s not like any of the states has such a good track record in public administration.

#30
dpm7:43 pm, 22 Aug 12

breda said :

jb, your assumption that everyone has to sing off the same hymn sheet is at the core of the problem. The fact is, the hymn sheet is likely to be quite different in Tasmania than in North Queensland or remote parts of WA. The Commonwealth’s stupid attempts to impose a one-size-fits all model is the opposite of achieving good outcomes across this huge and diverse nation.

So, out of interest, do the hymn sheets in different jurisdications differ such that people in some states deserve worse health care than other states?

breda said :

The Commonwealth knows s.f.a. about service delivery, as its recent forays have demonstrated. All their interventions have done is make life more complicated, less flexible and very frustrating for those at the coalface….

Hmmm, I still think that, overall, Centrelink and Medicare are pretty impressive systems for all Australians…?

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