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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 johnboy - 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
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keepitup 10:36 am 23 Aug 12

Perhaps we should just dissolve the Commonwealth. There would be six sovereign States making their own decisions and there would be no need for a Federal parliament or for all those politicians. The ACT would simply be absorbed by NSW, and the NT could revert to South Australia.

Affirmative Action Man 9:44 am 23 Aug 12

Haviing worked for long periods in both the Federal & State bureaucracies I found that they were both equally imcompetent.

And I fully support Johnboy & the Meds headline. If you can’t insult self serviving pollies on RiotAct life is not worth living.

Diggety 9:26 am 23 Aug 12

Diggety said :

Rather than moan over the inevitable downsizing of Canberra based Public Service, why don’t we get ahead of the curve and start to suggest a alternative industry for the region?

The pig trough was never going to last forever – time to get realistic and save the skills and resources we have for an easier transition.

Canberra is really Australia’s largest mining town. It was built for the express purpose of housing Commonwealth public servants and nothing else. So when people talk about transitioning to something else I’m never really sure what that would be.

With all due respect, may I suggest that is because you’ve all been thinking like Public Servants for too long (e.g. mind has gone stale)?

davo101 9:16 am 23 Aug 12

HenryBG said :

The States are a pre-Federation hangover

Err you clearly don’t know what a federation is.

Diggety said :

Rather than moan over the inevitable downsizing of Canberra based Public Service, why don’t we get ahead of the curve and start to suggest a alternative industry for the region?

The pig trough was never going to last forever – time to get realistic and save the skills and resources we have for an easier transition.

Canberra is really Australia’s largest mining town. It was built for the express purpose of housing Commonwealth public servants and nothing else. So when people talk about transitioning to something else I’m never really sure what that would be.

Diggety 11:50 pm 22 Aug 12

Rather than moan over the inevitable downsizing of Canberra based Public Service, why don’t we get ahead of the curve and start to suggest a alternative industry for the region?

The pig trough was never going to last forever – time to get relistic and save the skills and resources we have for an easier transition.

EvanJames 10:32 pm 22 Aug 12

State and Federal government is so different, they actually have nothing in common. Federal APS is mindful of the FMA Act, the possibility they’ll be held to account by someone’s local member, or Senate Estimates… the sheer waste and incompetence I saw in the NSW public service was mind-boggling. They have no system for financial governance and no concept of one either. State health services are in financial trouble because they don’t budget, don’t plan, no-one’s accountable for where the money went, and they don’t care.

The Liberals are really hitting rock-bottom on this one.

HenryBG 9:56 pm 22 Aug 12

breda said :

The Commonwealth has been steadily usurping the States’ responsibilities for decades, …

Good, and long may it continue.

The States are a pre-Federation hangover, long overdue for retirement.

We have an entire layer of additional, unnecessary, and excessive governance in the form of State Government. (I include the ACT “Government” in that).
Get rid of the lot of them.
All we need for representation are Federal MPs and Senators. Although the Senate is pretty rubbish, too….

dpm 7:43 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…?

kakosi 7:06 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.

Diggety 5:59 pm 22 Aug 12

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

breda 5:07 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.

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

davo101 4:38 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.

Chop71 4:30 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

Pork Hunt 4:27 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.

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