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ACT Government – Corrupt or not corrupt what do you think? [With poll]

By PantsMan - 19 August 2011 40

Now that our Chiefly-Miss suggests she is amenable to a review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994, it may be time to consider how the ACT Government fares on the scale between corrupt and not corrupt.

Thorough shear happenstance, it appear that the ACT actually has an (unreformed) Freedom of Information Act, a quasi-Auditor-General, a Public Interest Disclosure Act, an Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act, and an Ombudsman we borrowed from the Commonwealth.

Our former CM’s predilection with human rights did not extend to freedom from the tyranny of corrupt governments, and we don’t have anything even approaching an anti-corruption commission that can look at the decisions of ministers and the executive.

And it’s not like we’ve been without our fair share of debacles:

  • Rhodium Asset Solutions;
  • an Acting Revenue Commissioner prosecuted for obtaining money by deception; or
  • the departure of Neil Savery.

Then today I happened upon the astounding case of the former ACT Treasury FOI contact officer appealing an FOI decision about a refusal to release documents about her own public interest disclosure.

It all leads me to ask:

ACT Government

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40 Responses to
ACT Government – Corrupt or not corrupt what do you think? [With poll]
PantsMan 7:25 pm 19 Aug 11

Here is the definition of “public official” from the NSW ICAC Act:
“public official” means an individual having public official functions or acting in a public official capacity, and includes any of the following:

(a) the Governor (whether or not acting with the advice of the Executive Council),

(b) a person appointed to an office by the Governor,

(c) a Minister of the Crown, a member of the Executive Council or a Parliamentary Secretary,

(d) a member of the Legislative Council or of the Legislative Assembly,

(e) a person employed by the President of the Legislative Council or the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or both,

(f) a judge, a magistrate or the holder of any other judicial office (whether exercising judicial, ministerial or other functions),

(g) an officer or temporary employee of the Public Service or the Teaching Service,

(h) an individual who constitutes or is a member of a public authority,

(i) a person in the service of the Crown or of a public authority,

(j) an individual entitled to be reimbursed expenses, from a fund of which an account mentioned in paragraph (d) of the definition of “public authority” is kept, of attending meetings or carrying out the business of any body constituted by an Act,

(k) a member of the Police Force,

(k1) an accredited certifier within the meaning of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 ,

(l) the holder of an office declared by the regulations to be an office within this definition,

(m) an employee of or any person otherwise engaged by or acting for or on behalf of, or in the place of, or as deputy or delegate of, a public authority or any person or body described in any of the foregoing paragraphs.

I think (c) and (d) would cause a bit of trouble here in the ol’ ACT.

Silentforce 7:05 pm 19 Aug 11

This a Labor government Right!

Why is the ACT Government beyond reproach? We are wedged between corrupt NSW pollies and councils and a federal government whose prime minister gives her full support and our cash to protect her house of cards to prop up an ex union hack who either used or failed to adequately secure his corporate card causing Comrades money to be spent on prostitutes .

Wonder why we don’t have an ICAC in the ACT?

The problem with unchecked fraud is that it becomes an OH&S issue. The more it is swept under the carpet, the more likely someone is liable to trip over it.

cranky 6:59 pm 19 Aug 11

Wow,

Does that NSW ICAC definition describe Stanhope’s actions in trying to neuter the Bush Fire enquiry as corrupt, or what?

housebound 5:52 pm 19 Aug 11

The NSW ICAC definition of corruption appears to be more relevant:
corruption is … deliberate or intentional wrongdoing, not negligence or a mistake. It has to involve or affect a NSW public official or public sector organisation. While it can take many forms, corrupt conduct occurs when:
* a public official improperly uses, or tries to improperly use, the knowledge, power or resources of their position for personal gain or the advantage of others
* a public official acts dishonestly or unfairly, or breaches public trust
* a member of the public influences, or tries to influence, a public official to use his or her position in a way that is dishonest, biased or breaches public trust.

That second point is the real kicker. It doesn’t have to be for personal gain.

On that basis, there would have to be corrupt individuals in the ACT Government – just because they are human beings and fallible. Someone listed some examples before. We could all add a few more if we thought about it.

The answer to the broader question of ‘is the ACT Government corrupt?’ can be found in the ACT Government’s response to the actions of these individuals, or to honest individuals who try to stop dishonest actions (or poor administration). This is where the OP’s list of debacles and the note about the Treasury FOI comes in, as does the saga of the TaMS whisteblower, or other instances of cover-ups of wrongdoing. [stopping here to avoid getting defamatory]

An easy example is in the comments on this site when the government does something vindictive, and people shrug and say ‘what do you expect’. Getting even is a misuse of public office.

Wallly1972 5:16 pm 19 Aug 11

People are confusing corruption with incompetence, inefficiency, poor judgement, making mistakes, secrecy etc.

If you look at a definition http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Corrupt+politics
you see that there needs to be private gain (for themselves or associates).

What evidence of corruption is there?
What private gain is achieved?
Mysteryman, what are these “their own interests” ?

The closest I could see is that they take actions to get themselves re-elected, as all politicians do.

Saying the ACT government is corrupt when you simply don’t like the decisions they make is an insult to people living with real corruption!

Classified 4:48 pm 19 Aug 11

shirty_bear said :

Mysteryman said :

I think they are “corrupt” in the sense that I feel they are serving their own interests, rather than that of the constituency. They do an outrageously poor job of representing us. More often than not they appear to be completely out of sync with the general population of the ACT, making decisions that are questionable at best, and foolish/irresponsible at worst.

Well played, sir. Nearer incompetent than truly corrupt. Not sure which I’d prefer …

Absolutely. They should also grow some nuts.

dtc 3:02 pm 19 Aug 11

what_the said :

This seems to be a fairly recent thing I’ve noticed, like in the last 5 years or so. I dont know if they’ve over stretched the resources or what’s going on, but it seems all roadworks take a bloody eternity to finish, and every time you go past them there’s barely a handful of workers??

Obviously more workers = quicker job. But where do you find suitably skilled (or unskilled) workers in Canberra? They got rid of the Raiders reserve grade*

(not a dig at the Raiders, but most of those guys were builders labourers when not training)

what_the 11:27 am 19 Aug 11

FioBla said :

I’m a bit new to Canberra. My observation is that public works seems to take a long time to complete. I live in the Woden/Weston Creek area, and go to Civic occasionally. That intersection of Melrose and Hindmarsh is taking ages (started in May?), for what appears to be a few S-bends in the pedestrian crossing, and rounding off the corners.

The other one is the bike cage at Lyons. I took a picture on the 25th June weekend of its concrete foundations. It should be functional sometime in August. Does it really take almost 2 months to build a shed with an electronic door?

Yesterday I was cruising around the city, and the works on the south side of Alinga Street (between Marcus Clarke, and Moore) is still on-going.

This seems to be a fairly recent thing I’ve noticed, like in the last 5 years or so. I dont know if they’ve over stretched the resources or what’s going on, but it seems all roadworks take a bloody eternity to finish, and every time you go past them there’s barely a handful of workers??

shirty_bear 11:27 am 19 Aug 11

Mysteryman said :

I think they are “corrupt” in the sense that I feel they are serving their own interests, rather than that of the constituency. They do an outrageously poor job of representing us. More often than not they appear to be completely out of sync with the general population of the ACT, making decisions that are questionable at best, and foolish/irresponsible at worst.

Well played, sir. Nearer incompetent than truly corrupt. Not sure which I’d prefer …

FioBla 11:01 am 19 Aug 11

I’m a bit new to Canberra. My observation is that public works seems to take a long time to complete. I live in the Woden/Weston Creek area, and go to Civic occasionally. That intersection of Melrose and Hindmarsh is taking ages (started in May?), for what appears to be a few S-bends in the pedestrian crossing, and rounding off the corners.

The other one is the bike cage at Lyons. I took a picture on the 25th June weekend of its concrete foundations. It should be functional sometime in August. Does it really take almost 2 months to build a shed with an electronic door?

Yesterday I was cruising around the city, and the works on the south side of Alinga Street (between Marcus Clarke, and Moore) is still on-going.

I’ve lived in countries with more overt (or is it covert) corruption compared to Australia: e.g. signs at government offices saying “please take a receipt if you make a payment” which is a tacit headshake against bribery, or paying a policeman money upfront for running a red light etc. In Canberra, this sort of behaviour may be absent, but maybe lack of efficiency has been institutionalised, which may be just as bad.

Mysteryman 10:52 am 19 Aug 11

I voted corrupt, but only because it was closer to the actual answer I had in mind than the alternative option.

I think they are “corrupt” in the sense that I feel they are serving their own interests, rather than that of the constituency. They do an outrageously poor job of representing us. More often than not they appear to be completely out of sync with the general population of the ACT, making decisions that are questionable at best, and foolish/irresponsible at worst.

I don’t believe they are “corrupt” in the sense of law breaking/taking bribes. Some of their decisions make me think they are probably one step short of actually receiving suitcases full of cash… but they aren’t behaving like FIFA, or the IOC.

neanderthalsis 10:34 am 19 Aug 11

Incompetent, negligent, out of touch with reality and generally stoopid, yes. Corrupt, not really (I haven’t tried to buy off any holders of public office in the ACT recently though).

I think the QLD National Party Govt under Jo Bjelke- Petersen sets a pretty high standard for government corruption closely followed by the former NSW Labor govt under their many leaders.
The difference between the two being QLD under Jo was a state where things got done and he started the conversion of Brisbane from a backwater into a thriving city and turned the Gold Coast into a tourist haven where NSW was driven into the ground.

what_the 10:16 am 19 Aug 11

Corrupt compared to where? I’ve been to some pretty corrupt countries where governments are bought, as are police, etc. which would make any corruption in ACT govt look postively miniscule.

steveu 9:47 am 19 Aug 11

Without a doubt there is corruption in our local council. All we can hope for is more transperancy to allow this to be better disclosed to the public.

harvyk1 9:41 am 19 Aug 11

No more corrupt than any other western democracy. I don’t think you can really fit the ACT Gov’t into either of these options as it really is a shade of gray…

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