'The' Mandarin.

Another Politician Minnionaire!

Andrew Robb did not breach code of conduct by taking $880k consultancy role with Chinese billionaire, Scott Ryan says


Special Minister of State Scott Ryan has defended former trade minister Andrew Robb, who took an $880,000 part-time job as a consultant to a Chinese billionaire days after the 2016 federal election.

"We have to be careful where someone has a broad portfolio — particularly someone like Andrew who was a senior businessman before he came into parliament — isn't prohibited completely from work after they leave public work," Senator Ryan said.

His comments come after a Four Corners-Fairfax investigation revealed ASIO warned political leaders that the Chinese Communist Party may be influencing the Australian political system through multi-million-dollar donations by influential businessmen.

One of those businessmen was property developer Huang Xiangmo, who along with associates donated $50,000 to Mr Robb's campaign financing vehicle, the Bayside Forum, on the day the Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2014.

In a separate development, the investigation found Mr Robb began working as a consultant to yet another Chinese billionaire, Ye Cheng, on July 1, 2016 — the day before the federal election.

He had previously announced he was resigning from the Melbourne seat of Goldstein and ceased to be an MP on May 9.

Mr Cheng's company, Landbridge Group, was embroiled in controversy when it was awarded a 99-year lease over the port of Darwin.

No claim Robb breached code: Ryan
Senator Ryan said the former trade minister's $880,000 part-time position with the Landbridge Group did not breach ministerial code of conduct rules, describing the situation as "a complex issue".

"There is no claim that Andrew Robb has in any way breached the code because it does prohibit dealing with officials that you dealt with as a minister, on issues that you dealt with as a minister, or on knowledge you had as a minister," Senator Ryan said.

"There has been no claim about that."

When asked whether Mr Robb's position was "appropriate", Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said "that is really a question that Mr Robb should answer".

"I think it is only fair and reasonable that people are curious enough to want to know the answer and if further discussions need to be held in regards to people's roles, then I will always back in our nation," Mr Joyce said.

"I believe absolutely that there should never be any even implied undue influence."
Mr Huang also reneged on a $400,000 pledge to Labor in June last year, after its defence spokesman took a hard line on China's militarisation of the South China Sea.

The next day, Senator Sam Dastyari appeared with Mr Huang at a press conference exclusively for Chinese media, where he echoed Beijing's line on the disputed waters.

Senator Dastyari later lost his shadow cabinet position over revelations that Mr Huang and a second Chinese donor had paid for some of the Labor figure's expenses.

Article here;


OINK OINK! Naturally there is 'nothing untoward' in all of this. Mind you, I wouldn't mind earning $880k p/a to work 'part time'! My goodness, after all those years working so hard in Can'tberra Mr Robb must have gained some amazing skills to make him so valuable don't you think????

"Safe ex Ministerial Minnionaires for all'

M&M: Listen up minions - Rolleyes

This is probably going to make some on here want to vomit but anyhow... Big Grin

By Harley Dennett, via the Mandarin... Wink

Quote:Mike Mrdak shows how an experienced leader doesn’t mince words

Harley Dennett / August 25, 2017

  [Image: mike-mrdak-360x200.png]

Up and coming public sector leaders would find it time well spent to study the masters. Show, don’t tell is a writing technique — but quite valuable a skill for leaders, as demonstrated when Mike Mrdak took to the microphone for the latest IPAA ACT secretary address.

The secretary of the federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development opened with a crowd-pleasing promise: a uniquely Australian success story, one involving most members of the audience in some capacity, an opportunity to pat each other on the back. That success story was the Federation and its ongoing evolution.

What the audience got was a pitch-perfect demonstration of how to give frank and fearless advice — where the advice in this case was what the audience of mostly central agency types needed, but probably not what they wanted or expected to hear.

A view ministers need to hear

The untold Federation story, Mrdak began, is not the big dollars allocated by governments, but in long-term planning and investment reform. Rather than something unique to infrastructure, Mrdak sees that long-term perspective as a core responsibility of all public servants.

“Electoral cycles are very short, the focus of government tends to be very short,” Mrdak said. “We are the continuity and the people who have to understand what the future needs are to provide that long-term advice to government … often governments don’t want to hear our view.

“A view is not an opinion. I have lots of opinions — not worth much — but my agency has a view on the right outcome for the future. It’s informed by evidence, informed by good long-term research, and it’s all about what is the right outcome for the challenges facing the country.”

Be prepared to take forward-leaning steps to get there, ahead of the pressing public policy issues of the day. That focus is what differentiates this vocation from others, he said.

Politicians may not want to listen, acknowledged the secretary who has been appointed and re-appointed under both ALP and Coalition governments. But he had some tips for that situation — tips that revolved around the real theme of his talk: collaboration and coalition building.

Minister won’t listen? Could the same ideas get a better reception in the minister’s office if coming from an industry group? Mrdak thought it likely. So build up a shared vision with stakeholders, the minister start hearing a consensus, and  long-term goals start to also become viable as short-term steps. When done properly, he added, the community can enjoy quite substantial benefits.

‘Critical for public servants to make Federation work’

The Federation is like the APS, Mrdak observed, albeit too crisis driven. “Fragile, tired and needs care and attention but still world-class.”

The Constitution was drafted in a very different world. Rigidily built into it makes reform difficult. COAG and issues like rail coordination show that governments can make it work within the limitations of the Constitution. It falls of the wheels when governments fail to invest in COAG institutions.

“If you want to see a reform agenda killed early, hand it over to the PMO, PM&C or Premier’s departments.”

“If you want to see a reform agenda killed early, hand it over to the PMO, PM&C or Premier’s departments.”

“Too often governments look for the quick fix, place too much faith on financial incentives to deliver policy outcomes, or neglect the big picture in favour of local outcomes. In my view these short-sighted approaches are not investing in the Federation, actually erode the Federation and the nation. They leave the Federation fragile, and open to criticism that it is a model that does not serve Australians well.”

Australian governments will judged on how effectively they manage the federation, Mrdak notes. Good government is nine jurisdictions working together to deliver an outcome for the community, a clear understanding of the problems, and a commitment to the national interest. Above all, it requires public servants doing the hard policy work, building the evidence and sharing it freely.

“The states are not the enemy,” Mrdak says, they too can be committed to the national interest when shown good evidence, “but they’ve become experts in making the Commonwealth pay too much — we need alternative incentives.”

Where reform grows, and where it goes to die

The not-so-successful approach to Federation is reform announced by press release, Mrdak says, frequently driven from centre, particularly PMO or Premier’s offices. These “can’t bring the states territories, or community with them. Perhaps these days always driven by the need to be campaign mode, elected officials at every level of government are seen to be doing something, anything, even if it isn’t actually achieving a great deal.

“Also, the centralisation of these issues in my view kill the issue very early. If you want to see a reform agenda killed early, hand it over to the PMO, PM&C or Premier’s departments, and you’ll not see it ever come to fruition.”

“The only way you’ll see reform is when it’s driven by line agencies, and the coordination is done at the centre, but the hard work is done in the line area. Often the Commonwealth and also the state governments don’t draw enough value from the expertise of their line agencies. Reform led by central agencies usually founders quite early because it doesn’t have buy-in from line agencies across the jurisdictions and often driven too much by the Treasury focus on where the dollars go.”

“A central approach often doesn’t engage the states enough on agreeing to the problems.

It too quickly moves away from identifying the need for reform and valuing the state contribution, into a discussion around dollars. When you get to the dollars its often combative and not cooperative and that’s why we need to do much better in how we manage our reform agenda across the public service both federally and with the states.”

“That’s why line agencies must have a view, because only they have the relationships that make this work.”
My Grandad used to say: "Know thy enemy!"  Dodgy

MTF...P2 Tongue

I'm not sure where to post this...here seems as good as any..
Full article

Quote:Infrastructure boss Mike Mrdak lashes Prime Minister and Cabinet and prime ministers' offices

The boss of the Department of Infrastructure has delivered a blunt assessment of some of Canberra's most powerful public servants and political staffers, calling out central agencies as dollar-driven policy killers.

In a speech to the Institute of Public Administration in Canberra this week, Mike Mrdak said sending reform proposals to Parliament House or the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet early was a sure way to have good policy ideas killed off, arguing line agencies were better placed to deliver development through constructive relationships and cooperation.

The comments have echoed through Canberra's public service circles, leaving some surprised by the at times undiplomatic tone.

A former PM&C deputy secretary and Commonwealth coordinator-general, Mr Mrdak said more long-term planning and evidence-based decision making was needed to overcome the short focus of governments.

He said "forward-leaning steps" were often needed on infrastructure planning, including sometimes ahead of public opinion.

Mr Mrdak warned reform proposals born in central agencies or prime ministers' offices often did not serve the public or the states and territories well.

"If you want to see a reform agenda killed early, hand it over to the PMO, PM&C or premier's departments, and you'll not see it ever come to fruition," he said to laugher from the room.

"The only way that you get long-term change and reform is when it's driven by line agencies and the coordination is done at the centre, but the hard work is done in the line area.

"Often the Commonwealth and also state governments don't draw enough value from the expertise of their line agencies. Reform led by central agencies usually founders quite early because it doesn't have buy-in from line agencies across the jurisdictions and is often driven too much by the Treasury focus on where the dollars go."

Citing heightened discussion about the Australian constitution during Parliament's citizenship fiasco, Mr Mrdak said fast electoral cycles and limited political agendas hampered good processes and the public service needed to provide a buffer.

"Electoral cycles are very short, the focus of government tends to be very short.

"We are the continuity and the people who have to understand what the future needs are to provide that long-term advice to government. We must have a view on the right outcome.

"Often governments don't want to hear our view - and a view is not an opinion. I have lots of opinions, they're not worth a lot, but my agency and my portfolio has a view about the right outcome for the future. It's informed by evidence, it's informed by good long-term research and it is all about what is the right outcome for the challenges facing the country."

He used the speech to call for line agencies to lead engagement with state governments and experts, because the approach of central agencies including PM&C and Treasury did not facilitate agreement on policy solutions.

"It too quickly moves away from identifying the need for reform and valuing the state contribution, into a discussion around dollars. When you get to the dollars, it is often combative and not cooperative.

"That's why we need to do much better in how we manage our reform agenda across the public service, both federally and with the states."

"That's why line agencies must have a view, because only they have the relationships that make this work," he said.

M&M: Reformation?-Forget it! We're all doomed... Confused   

A follow up to the last two posts, via the Oz:

Quote:‘Economic reform a hopeless cause’

[Image: 0d5613915d75aee5fb14b7eaee384bef?width=650]
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development secretary Mike Mrdak

The Australian12:00AM September 4, 2017

Victorian Business Editor Melbourne

One of the nation’s most senior public servants has made an ­extraordinary outburst lamenting the inability of state and federal governments to deliver on economic reform, claiming the current public appetite for change is the worst he has seen in three decades in public life.

“I have not known a time in my 30-odd years in public policy when the authority of government, both at the federal and state level, to even raise a reform agenda is so cynically attacked,’’ Michael Mrdak, secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, said, adding that the current environment had made any discussion of reform almost impossible.

He told a forum convened by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia that such an environment made it “very hard as a nation to take hard decisions on the way forward’’.

A day later, in a speech to the Institute of Public Administration in Canberra, the former PM&C deputy secretary and commonwealth co-ordinator-general also criticised the centralisation of decision-making at the state and federal level. “If you want to see a reform agenda killed early, hand it over to the PMO, PM&C or premiers’ departments, and you’ll not see it ever come to fruition,’’ he said, noting it was the responsibility of the bureaucracy to focus on long-term planning and evidence-based decision-making to overcome the short focus of governments.

His comments echo those of Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, who recently lamented the lack of economic reform in areas including tax, competition, education and the provision and pricing of infrastructure.

Business leaders have also questioned the federal government’s decision to abandon meaningful reform of the tax system after its company tax cuts for big corporations were opposed by Labor and the minor parties.

Mr Mrdak was commenting specifically at the IPA forum on the issue of road funding and whether fuel excise and registration fees should be scrapped and replaced with a system that charges drivers for how much they use the roads.

Transurban, the Australian Automobile Association and the IPA have been pushing road-user pricing as an alternative to the current system of funding new highways with petrol excise.

Dynamic road pricing has been implemented in some of the world’s major cities to ease congestion and improve the efficiency of road networks.

“The people will not get the information they need on an issue as complex as this through a tabloid headline or talkback radio,’’ Mr Mrdak said, before criticising the way “the tabloids’’ consistently portrayed discussions around tolls and road pricing as simply “new taxes’’.

The federal government has committed to hold an independent inquiry on the potential benefits and impacts of road market reform as an opportunity to build consensus within governments, industry and the community.

Mr Mrdak said the debate on road pricing was finally heading in the right direction after too often being “put in the hard basket’’. “This is no longer a theoretical concept, there is practical work happening across the country to provide the baseline information. Things are changing ... this is a reform that can have great social and economic benefit,’’ he said.

“We need to recognise for the community that the way we are operating is unsustainable.’’

He applauded Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher, who has announced the government will investigate moves towards road-user pricing to manage congestion. He said Mr Fletcher had been prepared to argue to his colleagues that this micro-economic reform needed to be progressed.

At the same forum, Adrian Dwyer, executive director of policy and research at the federal government’s infrastructure advisory body, Infrastructure Australia, urged the government to introduce a road-pricing mechanism on electric cars before their uptake increased.

Stressing his comments did not represent official IA policy, he said the move was not about imposing a new tax on electric vehicles. Rather it was about moving to a fairer and more sustainable system of funding.

Retiring Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell echoed Mr Dwyer’s concerns about electric cars, telling the forum “the owner of a Tesla electric car pays no fuel excise at all, yet he or she shares the road with motorists paying hundreds of dollars a year in a tax that is meant to fund road maintenance’’.
M&M's doom & gloom attitude for reform coupled with the fact that the aviation industry has the most inept, self-centred, NFI, Muppet of a minister ever to pull on the jersey; all we need now is for ICAO to bump us down to category 2 and as Chicken Little said - "The END is NEAR!" Undecided

[Image: Chicken-Little..jpg]      

MTF...P2 Cool

Mr.Mrdak might have some credibility if he could show that he has ever taken any steps to reverse the fantastic waste and mismanagement in the Commonwealth's administration of aviation, and especially the General Aviation industry which is in disastrous bureaucratically caused decline.

Can'tberra is a black hole for the taxpayer's dollar and Mr. Mrdak's complaints smack of the arrogance and almighty smugness from what we used to think of as the public service.

If Mr.Mrdak would explain how he's tried to manage the handover of airports and maintain a semblance of responsibility and watchfulness towards the original intent to maintain the aviation priority then we might find some plausible cause for his extraordinary outburst.
We will hope that Parliament takes note that all the PR consultants fees wasted on coaching our senior public officials how to pull the wool over Senate committees is further proof that the bureaucracy needs to be firmly taken in hand.

Parliament might also come to realise that the unelected independent Commonwealth Corporate style of governance has failed, and that its not possible to relinquish responsibility away from the will of the people's representatives and maintain good governance or prudent use of taxpayer moneys.

The Murky Mandarin is the archetype of the self serving Bureaucrat.

His self promoting diatribe sends shivers down the spine in that his
words simply highlight the arrogance that infects the upper levels of
the so called public service.

If Mr. Mrdak considers himself a servant of the people, then he is deluding himself.
He is an abject failure.

Is there any member of the public that has benefited in the slightest from anything
Mr. Mrdak has had his sticky fingers involved in? I mean anyone but big banks and development sharks.

Has Mr. Mrdak, in any way, assisted or promoted the shaping and development of a vibrant aviation industry?

I would suggest Mr. Mrdak has actively and with malice aforethought, promoted the destruction of the general Aviation Industry in Australia.

Again I ask the question, is there anything Mr Mrdak has been involved in that has benefited the Australian people in any way?

Other than himself of course.

Let the viva la revolución begin -  Big Grin

Via the Mandarin... Wink :

Quote:Ken Smith: how to restore public trust in government
By Ken Smith • 17/04/2018

The current focus on the day-to-day minutiae of scandals in government (real or imagined) can blur the fact that decline in trust in the institutions of government is a medium to long-term phenomenon which is affecting their ability to respond to future crises.

[Image: PanelC-Smith-215x300.png]

Professor Ken Smith, Australia New Zealand School of Government Dean and CEO

In a political world which is becoming increasingly divided between open and closed views of government, this decline in trust could have devastating consequences. It is up to everyone involved in government to consider how we can rebuild trust in our institutions.

Each and every one of us in public office or public service has a fundamental responsibility: to operate in the public interest. Identifying and striving to serve the public interest is the most important thing we can do.

Time and time again, national and international surveys tell us that people are losing faith in democracy and our major institutions. Amongst the young this malaise is even more marked.

Professor A.J. Brown from the Centre for Governance & Public Policy at Griffith University has compiled fascinating data from the Australian Constitutional Values Survey, which shows that trust in the federal government has plummeted from almost 82% to 49% in the last decade, while trust in state and local governments have remained stable, but still only just above 50%.

Insist on good process

How can this be turned around, and how much of the turnaround is the responsibility of public servants operating outside the political realm?

I’d like to suggest two answers to this question. One through a greater commitment to integrity, transparency and proper process, and the second by ensuring the public sector spends more time genuinely listening to and engaging with the citizens it serves.

The public will not tolerate a culture that sees political and public sector leaders immune from consequences for behaviour that is clearly unacceptable to the public. Integrity consists of more than just obeying the letter of the law: it includes a commitment to acting in the public interest at all times.

The best practical way to lift an organisation’s integrity is to insist on good process. Integrity comes from the standards of behaviours and professionalism you expect and demand from yourself and your staff. Good process can ensure these elements are understood and delivered.

Quote:Good process stems from solid, transparent and predictable routines. These routines need to be robust, to overcome unforeseen challenges and the pull of mediocrity. They need to become habitual to the point that we all take pride in holding ourselves accountable.

These routines help with the fundamental question of coordination across agencies. And effective and successful government requires coordination across three domains: the political, the policy and the administrative. Coordination, in turn, is reliant on good process, with a solid dash of good trusting relationships thrown in.

In his book, How to run a government so that citizens benefit and taxpayers don’t go crazy, Sir Michael Barber uses the analogy of an iceberg: policy is just the tip, only 10 per cent of the puzzle in producing good outcomes. In other words, process is what sunk the Titanic: the hidden 90 per cent of the iceberg that makes everything possible— or not possible.

At its heart, the proper functioning of government is about better outcomes for citizens. Good process and well implemented routines help to drive these outcomes, and will also act to increase public trust in our institutions.

These issues are of increased importance in the current climate, where lack of trust in key institutions feeds the rise of populist, anti-pluralist movements.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said in 2007 that the real dividing line in politics had moved from the traditional positions of right versus left to “what I would call the modern choice, which is open versus closed.”

Blair could perhaps not have imagined how accurate his prediction would prove in 2016.

Yet there is a danger in the simplistic, populist offerings of a closed politics. The success of the current international political and financial system had hitherto been one of tearing barriers down, since the “End of History” in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. Openness to this diversity and success is at risk if new barriers are constructed.

Institutions have a choice: to open their arms and heart to the world, or to decide to be closed off to insights and people from elsewhere.

While good process is important as a way of stemming declining public trust, relying on process alone is not enough. It can encourage an internal focus, and so risks being perceived as too bureaucratic. Good process must extend to active engagement with the citizenry.

Listen, think and, only then, act

In his conclusion, Barber writes that citizens will increasingly: “expect to be participants in the services they demand, not just recipients. They will expect to exercise choice as well as voice. They will be more assertive as consumers and as citizens. Governments will therefore need to be more responsive and more agile.”

Or, in the words of ANZSOG’s foundation Professor of Public Administration, John Alford, citizens are vitally important co-producers of public value. Public institutions need to listen. Listen, think and, only then, act. A willingness to listen and deliberate is not something that comes easily. Our politicians and those supporting them are far better at providing the perception of engagement than offering the real thing. They often lack the ability to confer, to take counsel, and then carefully weigh up options.

Quote:Without the ability to talk more openly about our shared problems, and to have those representing the public interest hear these conversations, we will not be able to solve them.

A change of approach is vital because year after year, surveys like the Australian Constitutional Values Survey have reiterated the need for such a change. They document falling trust in our parliaments, our politicians, our public servants, and even democracy.

The risk is that we take the strength of our government institutions for granted, as politicians and public servants and public alike all opportunistically press for their small gains and little victories. We assume that because they have saved us in the past, they will do so in the future. In pursuit of our own goals, we forge our role in maintaining and strengthening the institutions that support us.

[Image: trump-president-pic-300x169.jpg]

Cambridge political theorist and historian David Runciman, warning of the potential long-term consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency, says:

Quote:“It is not possible to keep behaving like this without damaging the basic machinery of democratic government. It takes an extraordinarily fine-tuned political intelligence to target popular anger at the parts of the state that need reform while leaving intact the parts that make that reform possible.”

In short, the clear threat to our democratic institutions requires us to respond constructively and with some urgency to reverse the trends apparent throughout the world. A clear focus on integrity and the public interest will help to gradually improve public trust. Everyone in the public sector has a vital role to play in restoring these basic principles.

MTF...P2  Tongue

A good point, in a well written article. From the Mandarin.

"There’s a whole cottage industry in the Australian media lamenting the lack of reform and asking how we can return to it."


[Image: bullet-dark-firearm-1260564.jpg]

Amen - Love the picture.


Interesting article linked below from Our GayBC regarding bullies like Allan Jones and softcock spineless politicians;


“Jones had used the platform he has on radio — and an influence it gives him among spineless politicians way beyond the size of audience — to both bully and harangue the chief executive of the Sydney Opera House, Louise Herron, and bulldoze weak politicians into agreeing to let advertising go on Sydney's great architectural gem”.

I have my own opinions on Jones, but this is just another example of how gutless politicians make decisions based on protecting their overflowing rice bowls rather than what is in the people’s best interest. No wonder our cries for an aviation overhaul is met my deaf ears. These weasels are too scared to make a decision.

Our PM is a Pentecostal and their church services include speaking in tongues, prophecy and divine healing. Perhaps Morrison is praying for a miracle for the Liberal party at the next election? One thing is for sure, he is a politician and he does speak gibberish.

Our Government would rather gives tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars to the Clinton foundation so they can buy themselves a future outside of politics when the timing is right. They are also happy to give hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars to crooked countries like PNG where the Government has just splurged on 40 Maseratis for APEC leaders as polio returns to the country;


Scomo on stage?


Federal ICAC NOW!

Recent relevant references:

(02-01-2019, 02:43 PM)Gobbledock Wrote:  Better to die on your feet than on your knees

The Guvmint and it’s bloated bureaucratic departments are a blight on society and a thorough disgrace. These grubs are happy to put the kybosh on Angel Flight for no valid reason. Yet they are extatic to approve a DFO building that dangerously infringes on a runways strip width which ultimately and almost certainly contributed to the death of 5 people. Go figure? Perhaps the problem with Angel Flight is that there are no brown paper bag incentives that can be passed around?

I propose this;
1. Miniscule Mc’Do’nothing be relieved of his portfolio.
2. Shane Wingnut be offered an immediate redundancy package.
3. The PM acknowledge the work that Angel Flight does and provide an assurance that it’s operation shall continue unchanged.
4. If the above reasonable requests are not met then a concerted effort by the IOS be put into action which highlights and exposes this farcical state of affairs.

Viva Le Revolution

P7 - Second the motion. Enough is enough.

(02-01-2019, 04:23 PM)Cap\n Wannabe Wrote:  From the AOPA Australia FB page..


The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia is calling on all Australians to take affirmative action in sending a clear message to the Deputy Prime Minister, rejecting CASA's proposed changes to Community Service Flights, by calling the Deputy Prime Minister's Riverina Electorate office to register your objection to CASA's proposed changes.


The Hon Michael McCormack MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development
Leader of the Nationals
Federal Member for the Riverina
Telephone: (02) 6921 4600
Email: michael.mccormack.mp@aph.gov.au


Join today: www.aopa.com.au/membership

AOPA Australia | Your Freedom to Fly

In light of the disturbing findings of the SA Murray Darling Basin Royal Commissioner and legend Legal Eagle Brett Walker SC yesterday, the Mandarin came out with the following:  

Quote:Why does water administration require ‘cloak and dagger’ secrecy akin to ASIO?
By Harley Dennett  01/02/2019

[Image: top-secret-files.jpg]

‘The MDBA doth protest too much, methinks,’ writes Commissioner Bret Walker in a rebuke that drew upon the works of George Orwell and William Shakespeare to describe how bureaucrats twisted the language of transparency.

After dealing with the legal and scientific issues of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan administration, Walker waited until the very end of his Royal Commission report, published online yesterday, to call out how misplaced any public faith is in the plan’s scientific credentials and claims of transparency and accountability.

“Whether Australia is meeting its international obligations under environmental treaties is not a ‘cloak and dagger’ matter.”

Commissioner Walker found Murray-Darling Basin Authority bureaucrats consistently chose to quash public release of its scientific and legal advice — “unlawfully” according to Walker — despite dozens of mandated reviews, the findings of which the agency is required to publish, plus audits and other statutory disclosures.

The commissioner described the agency’s “weasel word” claims of being a transparent and accountable organisation as Orwellian in the face of its refusal to cooperate with the commission or the external scientific community. Walker appears to have ample justification for his belief that claims of transparency were disingenuous: the MDBA sought an injunction against the state of South Australia and the commissioner to prevent its people from being summoned to give evidence. - P2 comment; GOLD! Bret...absolute GOLD! Hmm...why does that quote sound so familiar??  Big Grin

Quote:“The MDBA is not ASIO. Its scientific inquiries and work should never remain private. Regrettably and inappropriately … the MDBA has preferred to avoid making itself accountable to the public and to the wider scientific community.”

Secrecy of water adminstration included virtually all aspects of modelling used to determine environmentally sustainable level of take, and legal advice from the Australian Government Solicitor on the construction of the Water Act. This extended to other government agencies tasked with providing independent accountability, including the Productivity Commission and CSIRO, which were left to make their evaluations while “wearing a blindfold”. Member governments to the Basin Plan were also refused access to the modelling, according to state government officials testifying before the commission.

The Basin Plan, which involves three subnational governments — Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria and South Australia — is a component of how Australian environmental law fulfills international agreement obligations. Walker calls it a vital reform, involving huge amounts of public money, and therefore requires public scrutiny:

Quote:“Public disclosure of all aspects of science-based environmental restoration and protection seems both fitting and desirable as a matter of obviousness. Nothing about it suggests either a need for, or public benefit from, secrecy. Whether Australia is meeting its international obligations under environmental treaties is not a ‘cloak and dagger’ matter.”

Witnesses who gave evidence at the commission frequently cited a core requirement of the scientific process: a conclusion is not scientific if it isn’t capable of being tested and proved wrong. Walker noted this self-evidently implied sharing was also a core requirement: “Knowledge that cannot be scrutinized because of a lack of information is not science. Equally, scientific knowledge not publicly disclosed obviously cannot be checked.”

In addition to enabling public faith that the MDBA is complying with the law, Walker noted that transparency is imperative in Australia’s system of democratically elected government, so that the work of public servants can be checked, queried, test and improved.

“The public deserves a far higher standard of intellectual honesty, engagement and disclosure from a Commonwealth Department” - P2 comment: Is Clinton Mckenzie a disciple of Bret Walker?

The MDBA does claim to be a transparent and accountable organisation in its response to the commission, but it did not answer or explain why disclosures were rebuffed, for example to state government officials.

The insistence on secrecy is both an unacceptable way for a public-funded Commonwealth science-based authority to act, he writes, but is also contributes to the probability that many of the objects and purposes of the Water Act and Basin Plan will not be achieved.

In its response, published online yesterday, the MDBA says it is confident that the Basin Plan has been made lawfully and based on best available science. “There is extensive documentation in our published reports to support this,” the statement says.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources was also criticised for a lack of public disclosure with respect to its decisions, including why it has prioritised effiency measures over buybacks at additional public expense. Walker accused DAWR of perpetuating a discourse of myth and exaggeration over the policy’s potential impact: “The public deserves a far higher standard of intellectual honesty, engagement and disclosure from a Commonwealth Department attempting to defend such a contentious policy.”

The DAWR recently announced that it will publish online a range of details about projects funded under its new Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program, but Walker says it’s too little, too late: “The issue cries out for the ministrations of the Auditor-General.”

This brings me to the next contribution from the Mandarin -it would seem that the rest of the first World democracies believe us Aussies need a Federal anti-corruption authority ASAP as well... Rolleyes 

Quote:Corruption Perceptions Index: Australia failing to improve
By David Donaldson  31/01/2019

[Image: iStock-531630164_opt.jpg][img=750x0]https://www.themandarin.com.au/content/uploads/2017/08/iStock-531630164_opt.jpg[/img]
A lack of progress on corruption demonstrates the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, international watchdog argues.

Australia is failing to improve on corruption, according to this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

A score of 77, unchanged from the previous year, places Australia as the 13th-cleanest country in the world.

Denmark is seen as the least corrupt country in the world, with a score of 88.

Perhaps more importantly, New Zealand ranked second on 87.

While Australia’s score did not worsen this year, it is two points down from 2015.

The index is based on the perceptions of experts, as corruption itself is impossible to accurately measure. This raises the possibility that perception and reality may be somewhat misaligned.

One need not look too far from home to find an example of this — Victoria’s reputation as the clean state has been severely damaged since the inception of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, which has uncovered plenty of evidence to the contrary.

And a glance at the index shows Australia is not the only country to have seen a slight decrease — indeed, every country above Australia, with the sole exception of Singapore, has fallen since 2015.

“Transparency International points to Australia’s ‘downward trend’ as evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission.”

Are things getting worse or are western countries just becoming more aware they may have previously been overlooking the problem?

Transparency International points to Australia’s “downward trend” as evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, adding that research they conducted last year found 85% of Australians now think at least “some” federal politicians are corrupt.

“Strengthening our democracy must be a priority for 2019,” says Transparency International Australia CEO Serena Lillywhite.

“It is great that most of our parliament now supports some form of national anti-corruption agency, but the government’s proposed model does not go far enough. The national integrity bills proposed by Cathy McGowan MP provide a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing issues of parliamentary integrity and preventing, detecting, investigating and disclosing corruption.”

After all, the lack of major federal corruption scandals might be because Australia is relatively clean — or it might mean we’re just not looking hard enough.
So what's the mantra again -  Rolleyes

Oh yes - Federal ICAC NOW! - MTF..P2  Tongue

Bret Walker - ghost who talks

Bret Walker is one individual who doesn’t speaketh with forked tongue. The man talks the talk. I like him.

I love this bit that P2 uploaded;

“Transparency International points to Australia’s ‘downward trend’ as evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission

Disband CAsA and Australia’s ranking would probably improve by at least 5 points!!

P.S Mr Walker, you have 5 legitimate, fully registered chocolate frogs enroute. A gift for under $5, so you don’t need to put it on the percuniary register mate. All above board.


Red tape reduction? - Yes please... Rolleyes

(06-12-2019, 01:14 PM)thorn bird Wrote:  Interesting little snippet by Ben Fordham on lasts nights sky news Bolt report regarding the costs of red tape.
People wonder why Australian domestic airfares are so expensive. Excessive red tape would go a long way to explaining that. A blast from the past by Kerry Parker included. Hopefully P2 can work his magic and get the podcast up here

Sorry Thorny can't seem to find the segment you're talking about, however on red tape and the reduction of I did note this interesting article courtesy of the Mandarin and the IPA... Wink 

Quote:‘Soft law’ reduces economic output by $176 billion each year
By Shannon Jenkins  12/06/2019
[Image: redtapecut.jpg]
An “inherently undemocratic” form of red tape is harming Australia’s economy, according to a new report from the Institute of Public Affairs.

The report analyses and develops a methodology for measuring ‘Regulatory dark matter’ (RDM) — a category of red tape that has previously been ignored, the IPA said.

RDM — also known as ‘soft law’ — are publications by government agencies that seek to influence the behaviour of regulated actors.
These publications lack accountability, “subvert democracy” and lead to a greater red tape burden faced by individuals and businesses.
“Red tape is the single biggest barrier to economic prosperity and opportunity in Australia,” the report said.

“While regulation passed by parliament is subject to a transparent democratic process, regulatory dark matter is being imposed by the regulatory state with little democratic oversight.”

The report looks at five government agencies in the banking and finance sector: Australian Security Investment Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB), and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB).

Examining RDM for agencies that affect the banking and financial sectors sheds light on how RDM is classified as well as the practices of agencies which increase the red tape burden.

The report centres on this sector because it has grown rapidly over the past two decades, is the largest in the developed world as a percentage of GDP, and has been subject to various government inquiries, the most recent being from the Banking Royal Commission.

There are two main categories of RDM in Australia: legislative instruments and quasi-regulation.

The IPA found “a concerning aspect of the red tape burden”: for every page of enabling legislation passed by parliament, there are another eight pages of regulation imposed on the Australian economy by the regulatory state.

Key findings of the report include:

  • RDM is eight times larger than the original enabling legislation for these agencies passed by parliament.
  • There are 75,976 pages of RDM currently in place out of the five sampled agencies.
  • ACCC imposed the largest amount, with 44,160 pages currently in place.
  • RDM allows agencies to impose conditions on business with little to no parliamentary oversight.
  • RDM reduces economic output by $176 billion each year.
  • Red tape is the key reason why business investment is just 11.5% of GDP. This contributes significantly to sluggish productivity growth and slow wages growth.
  • RDM stunts competition. Smaller businesses are less able to keep up with the growing body of regulatory activity, hindering their ability to compete with larger incumbent businesses.

The IPA recommended that governments and agencies take responsibility to tackle the red tape “burden”. They also proposed that:

  • The Commonwealth government should take a one-in-two-out approach to regulation. Had the Coalition government implemented such a policy when it came to office in September 2013, there would have been 107,885 fewer pages of primary and secondary regulation by May 2017, according to the IPA. Cutting the red tape requires a rethinking of government intervention that begins with legislation.
  • Improve the quality of regulation. Lack of clarity in preceding levels of regulation leads to a need for further regulation. Parliament should take responsibility for regulation “rather than delegating to agencies and watering down democratic accountability of rule makers and enforcers in the process”.
  • Hold regulators accountable. Regulators should not be free from scrutiny and governments need to prioritise red tape reduction. Agencies should clearly present information on their websites. The problems surrounding guidance material and quasi-regulation need to be acknowledged and included in any government’s deregulation agenda.
...a one-in-two-out approach to regulation. Had the Coalition government implemented such a policy when it came to office in September 2013, there would have been 107,885 fewer pages of primary and secondary regulation by May 2017...

Hmm...I wonder how many of 107,885 pages did Dr A and his Iron Ring cadre contribute to?  Dodgy

MTF...P2  Tongue

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