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Who is the Public Service really serving?

By johnboy 2 July 2005 6

The Canberra Times has an interesting story on the retirement address of former Public Service Commissioner, Andrew Podger.

In a forthright – by public service standards – address at a farewell function on Thursday, he said there must be a “strong suspicion that partisan interests are often the main consideration, and public servants … give more weight to the concerns of ministers than to the public interest …

It’s just a shame he wasn’t so forthright when he held a position of authority.

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Who is the Public Service really serving?
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seepi 6:26 pm 04 Jul 05

Except in Yes Minister it is the other way around – the PS is manipulating the Minister.
But yes – scarily similar in so many ways.

wonsworld 2:19 pm 04 Jul 05

Hey anyone with an interest in this should go to the local ABC shop and pick up the DVD packs for both “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister”. With the obvious exception of the Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) character, I feel that there is more truth in those shows than people give credit for (in regards to the inner workings of the Public (or English Civil) Service.

And no I dont work in/for/near an ABC shop

bulldog 11:20 am 04 Jul 05

The most alarming part of the story is the secrecy of senior staff. Public Servants have to accountable to all, not just the ministers.

In answer to your question JB; the Public Servants who are asked to break the law and are found out by the media are duly crucified; refer to the Babies Overboard debacle.

If they aren’t found out I’m guessing they get a nice big bonus for ‘increased productivity’ or some other tripe.

johnboy 11:20 am 03 Jul 05

And what of situations where ministers ask the public service to break the law?

Or, as is outlined in the Source article, where public servants seek to please their ministers by limiting the material which the public can request under Freedom of Information laws?

seepi 11:00 am 03 Jul 05

This is becoming the reality – but it’s not meant to be like that.
The public service is supposed to make policy recommendations without fear or favour. The minister then decides what she wants to do with that advice.For a start, ministers are not actually experts in: the military/conservation/etc

random 11:05 pm 02 Jul 05

Isn’t the public service supposed to serve the ministers? That’s what they’re for. If they were to act “in the public interest”, contrary to “the concerns of ministers”, they’d be making the policy decisions that are supposed to rest with our actual *elected representatives*.

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