Mr Smiggle here with the latest juicy bits from across the public service. Things you need to know and things I know you really want to know.
Fighting to find room for fundraisers
Using Parliament House for political fundraising events is now officially banned, following the presiding officers agreeing to a request from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for such a decision.
House of Representatives Speaker Milton Dick and Senate President Sue Lines have put the ruling into effect just before next week’s federal budget.
So here’s the question … how come Treasurer Jim Chalmers is still delivering his post-budget address in the Great Hall of Parliament next Wednesday?
If ever there was a fundraising event, that’s it!
Perhaps because it’s actually a National Press Club of Australia luncheon – and quite an institution of the political calendar – so it’s been deemed OK.
But while parliament will be missing out on hosting future fundraisers, a few other Canberra haunts are set to be winners from the move.
Word is the Hyatt Hotel, the Hotel Realm and Hotel QT are being bombarded with bookings from entities hoping to boost their coffers with fundraising events.
The three hotels are the only ones with appropriately sized rooms for such events in Canberra.
An inconvenience for some for sure, but the government had to impose the ban before its federal ICAC legislation really kicks in, wouldn’t you say?
And in late-breaking news — Contrary to all expectations, the National Arboretum has just locked in big political fundraisers for both major parties for budget week. Labor’s on Tuesday and the Coalition on Thursday next week.
That’s a hospitality coup by any measure. Who needs a hotel conference room? And who needs Parliament House?
A word to the ‘wise’ – this bureau needs investigating
So when is a rebranding push a real BoM of an idea?
When it’s the weather bureau that’s more concerned about its name than the fact that four states across the country are under flood, that’s when.
Heads need to roll over the decision to pay a consultant – Melbourne’s C Word Communications Agency – $220,000 to try to reshape the Bureau of Meteorology’s image.
Seems they don’t like being referred to as the BoM.
What’s worse, though, is the agency fired off a missive to media outlets demanding that the terms ‘BoM’ or ‘Weather Bureau’ no longer be used in reporting.
The agency even quoted legislation in a bid to intimidate journalists.
After a first reference using the full title, the BoM insisted it should then be referred to as ‘the Bureau’ – just like the Federal Bureau of Investigations, perhaps.
Problem is, the very day the alert went out, the BoM acronym was still being used on the agency’s own social media.
It would be utterly laughable, except the BoM also thought it was a good idea to fire off the request this week while floods continue to rage across the country.
The missive even attempted to use the floods as a reason to enhance its image.
“With an ever-increasing number of severe weather events, it is more crucial than ever that the Bureau of Meteorology’s insights, wisdom, data and information are shared, understood and acted upon,” the media alert said.
“To support this need, the Bureau of Meteorology asks that media outlets update editorial style to ensure references to the organisation are by its full name, the Bureau of Meteorology or the Bureau for short, and not BOM or the Weather Bureau. This aligns with the Meteorology Act 1955.”
We can try to excuse the fact that whoever wrote that alert used 42 words in one sentence, but we can’t go past the reference to its own “insights” and “wisdom”.
There was no insight in spending so much taxpayer money because someone didn’t like working for a BoM.
And there was no wisdom in making itself the story at the height of traumatic weather events it is supposed to be helping the nation navigate.
Priorities are severely out of whack.
While this certainly adds to Labor’s argument that too much money is being wasted on consultants in the public service, there should also be a price to pay internally for this appalling gaffe.
I can’t wait for Senate Estimates.
Speaking of estimates
While most agencies are busy practising their mock estimates appearances in preparation for the actual and imminent event, there’s a bit of a dilemma for the Opposition MPs preparing to grill the bureaucrats.
Next week will see the second federal budget handed down this year. The Coalition delivered its one early, hoping its initiatives would help Scott Morrison’s reelection chances.
It didn’t, of course, but now the Coalition hasn’t got much room to criticise agencies over anything.
All Opposition MPs can do is ask why their program wasn’t instigated.
Labor is overruling the Coalition’s budget. Lots of the initiatives were never going to see the light of day.
So what are Opposition MPs (and the bureaucrats, for that matter) actually preparing for?
Smart move, Labor.
And speaking of being held accountable
Enough is enough! Staff are still locked out of 50 Marcus Clarke Street.
Employees of the Education Department and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations have not seen the inside of the building since early August.
The premises still haven’t been given the all-clear after a water sprinkler malfunction flooded the place, causing extensive damage.
Seems an engineering report has still not given it the tick of approval.
Someone isn’t doing their job.