Grubby smear campaign against Barbara Bennett

Ralph 30 July 2007 61

You could see this one coming. Barbara Bennett, Workplace Authority boss, has been popping up on the TV recently, even on my Foxtel. Ms Bennett’s TV ads about the workplace reforms were sure to rub somebody (unions and the ALP) up the wrong way, so the leftist Fairfax media has the first bite highlighting that: Ms Bennett lives in the ritzy suburb of Forrest; is renovating her home; is an ex-ALP staffer; and is married to a political lobbyist. It is not entirely clear why any of this is supposed to be relevant.

Now throw in some slimy comments from an anonymous ALP MP:

“Barbara’s a talented woman but she’s got about eight years above herself with this Workplace Authority post,” one Labor MP said.

“Obviously you only get such a leg-up if you give something in return.”

Seems that seniority, not talent, is the name of the game for some people.

However, Ms Bennett’s TV ads do raise an interesting point about the use of public servants for what might be viewed as political purposes.


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61 Responses to Grubby smear campaign against Barbara Bennett
Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 1:37 pm 16 Sep 08

Indeed Ant – most gracious of you.
Now if “gammar” will just teach grammar…

ant ant 1:27 pm 16 Sep 08

Good on you, Ms Bennett. You had some contrasting info to give, and gave it. And, despite a lot of negative comment against mother Bennett, this young lady has made a polite, informative reply. Now that is refreshing.

I hope Ms Bennett Snr. is doing well in her career now, and I hope mr Bennett’s burns healed up.

johnboy johnboy 12:47 pm 16 Sep 08

Give the girl a break guys, she’s entitled to have her say.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 12:41 pm 16 Sep 08

By responding to old comments more than a year after the thread died its natural death, you bring even more attention to the original post.

Fine form, Apparatchic.

Aurelius Aurelius 12:26 pm 16 Sep 08


Congratulations in reviving a story you wanted buried.
*clap* *clap* *clap*

BiBi BiBi 1:38 pm 07 Aug 07

If you want to check out just how caring and concerned Barbara Bennett(Hotlips Hoolihan)is just Google and read of her generous nature when she was with Comcare. Such a sweetie!!

KandyA KandyA 2:50 pm 03 Aug 07

Unions have certainly out-campaigned the govt on this issue – but I dont know who thinks having a cheerleader as head of the supposedly independant authority helps matters. Or if anyone thinks there is anywhere near as much independant review as was in the IRC.

pierce pierce 11:44 am 03 Aug 07

Maybe they could get one of the bogany ones to shout out “Johnny fucken rocks” in the ad.

(Like one of the Kennett ads in 99)

sepi sepi 2:49 pm 02 Aug 07

Next they will just get cute young public servants to do ads saying ‘vote liberal1’

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 2:22 pm 02 Aug 07

[Removed at he request of the poster]

bonfire bonfire 1:52 pm 02 Aug 07

so…. teh person who administers it shouldnt be entitled to promote it ?

shab old man you have finally lost it.

Maelinar Maelinar 11:14 am 02 Aug 07

I don’t see the Government rushing to put out ads debunking the McDonalds ‘makeupyourownmind’ campaign.

The similarity in the McDonalds campaign is that it is a privately funded advertising campaign that aims to inform people of the McDonalds view of the world, akin to the union campaign.

Therefore there is an imbalance.

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 9:47 am 02 Aug 07

[Removed at the request of the poster]

bonfire bonfire 9:10 am 02 Aug 07

the ads seem quite balancved to me.

theres legislation.

union ads have distorted the public perception.

the ads point people to accurate information.

entirely appropriate.

chester chester 5:27 am 02 Aug 07

I don’t know where she’s been sticking her tongue but Ms Bennett certainly seems to have a deep throat.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 6:26 pm 01 Aug 07

I think that the issue here is complicated by the fact that Bennett was specifically recruited to her current role in order to deliver the TV campaign – something that seems to not be considered newsworthy.

It’s not just a case of a pube treading a fine line between independent and objective advice and straight out toadying. Hell there’s a pantheon of oxygen bandits including Jane Halton, Roger Beale and Hillary Penfold that have made a career out of sticking their tongue all the way down the back of Howard’s trousers, but they have been too inept or too un-photogenic to front a full on campaign – enter Ms Bennett …

The inescapable reality is that Bennett is a willing participant in strategy designed to promote an unpopular policy whilst at the same time distancing the Government from that same policy – she’ll get rewarded if the Coalition gets re-elected and she’ll get what she deserves if Rudd gets in – it’s a straight forward gamble.

chester chester 10:31 am 01 Aug 07

I figure one of three things has happened here:

1. She’s been promised something by the Govt if it all goes pear-shaped.
2. She’s siezed her chance to be agency head over other possible candidates who were unwilling to engage in this kind of politicing; gambling that the Libs will get back in and her name will be made.
3. She’s done with the PS and is trying to get her name out there for some kind of private sector gambit.


Yes that there’s a fourth possibility as discussed by former Public Service Commissioner Andrew Podger on the 7.30 Report recently. You can access the interview here:

His concerns are highlighted in the story summary for those who don’t want to watch the whole thing:

Former Health Department secretary and public service commissioner Andrew Podger, who has served both Labor and Liberal governments in a 37-year career, says a combination of salary bonuses and relatively short-term contracts for senior public servants has served to reduce the independence of the bureaucracy.

So with the right “incentives” Ms Bennett may have been bought by her current political masters and may be as easily induced to change her tune if there’s a change of government.

And yes, it’s extremely worrying but it’s not a new phenomena. Rather it represents a politicization of the public service that’s been happening incrementally for some years. Nor is it confined to one side of politics. Indeed, as Andrew Podger points out, it’s even further progressed at the state and territory level.

The blame rests not just with the PS but with politicians of all persuasions as well. The recent ACT government budget ads are a variation on the theme. The bottom line is, if they want to push a political line, they should pay for it out of party funds.

The legal means for stopping this do not appear to exist. Politicians have no incentive to stop it and I’m sure there will always be plenty of public servants who can be bought. Which means it’s up to the press and the public to reject the concept.

Unfortunately, these days that tends to be something a compliant press and a hip-pocket voting public don’t bother to do until it’s too late.

smiling politely smiling politely 6:44 pm 31 Jul 07

I think this was first raised at the SMH’s FOI blog back on 26 July –, and it’s also been raised at Tim Dunlop’s “Blogocracy” site at News Ltd.

This is a good topic to raise, though, admittedly, as I have found with most of your comments across various posts Ralph, I don’t agree with your point of view here.

Ms Bennett’s actions are not ethically sound and are arguably inconsistent with the APS values as outlined in the Public Service Act. By merely appearing in a government advertisement on such a contentious policy area – and in the lead up to a Federal election, no less – she is undermining the public perspective of a professional and impartial Australian public service more broadly. Just my bit.

pierce pierce 4:31 pm 31 Jul 07

Ah but she doesn’t have to whinge Ingeegoodbee, she has Howard’s lackeys to do it for her.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 3:46 pm 31 Jul 07

She’s little more than an opportunist taking advantage of a nasty situation that might pay off, as such she’s in no position to whinge about any sh!t that gets flung her way. Her domestic connection to Steve Anderson whose resume includes lobbyist for the refrigeration industry – making CFCs look good and protecting the interests of innocent CFC/HCFC reliant businesses against the scourge of non-ozone depleting technologies – pretty much sums up the calibre of person the government is desperate enough to try and rope into their sordid little charade.

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