Another swan dive by a desperate government
A key aspect of our system of government is an impartial public service. In fact, this impartiality is enshrined in the Australian Public Service Act 1999, where it states:
(1) The APS Values are as follows:
(a) the APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner.
When this impartiality is undermined, our system of government is undermined. But this means very little to the Gillard Labor Government. This week, we have seen Wayne Swan direct Treasury officials to cost Coalition policies for no other reason than to try and discredit his political opponents. If this is not undermining the impartiality of the public service, then I don’t know what is.
The Coalition did not request these costings. The Treasury did not call the Coalition about the policies or to clarify any areas. It was undertaken without key information, which left the costings fundamentally flawed.
We have come expect just about anything from this Gillard Labor Government. Broken promises, unfunded policies, taxes that raise no revenue; we’ve seen it all. But using the public service as some subsidiary of ALP headquarters is quite another.
Labor has become so desperate to hold onto government that it is willing to trash any institution in its quest for survival. We saw that on Australia Day and now we have seen it this week with the Treasury.
The Treasurer and Prime Minister refute this, saying they believe Australians should know the cost of all polices of political parties. On the ABC AM Program this week, the Prime Minister said:
“I actually think the Australian people are entitled to know what the policies of every political party (are) and what they would cost.”
But this is hypocrisy of the highest order.
In April this year, I submitted an FOI request to Treasury seeking all costings of Greens policies. Based on the Prime Minister’s words on AM this week, you would presume these costings would be released. But they weren’t.
The Treasury uncovered 12 policy costing documents, yet refused to release any of them, citing Cabinet confidentiality and deliberative processes of government.
Since then, we have had to fight tooth and nail for Treasury to review this decision. We are still awaiting an outcome. The Gillard Labor Government has spent seven months hiding Greens policy costings, yet it has no qualms immediately releasing costings of Coalition policies to Fairfax as an exclusive.
Usually, the Greens are very vocal when it comes to freedom of information and transparency of government. But in this case, they are oddly silent.
But this is just one example.
In its fight for survival, the Gillard Labor Government has made a tsunami of policy announcements. These include the new dental scheme, National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the education reforms following the Gonski review.
Yet these are all unfunded promises. Economists have told us that future governments will need to find an extra $120 billion in order to fund these policies.
If the Prime Minister believed what she said on AM this week, Labor would tell us how it will fund these policies and cover this $120 billion budget black hole.
In fact, instead of demanding Treasury officials cost Coalition policies, Wayne Swan should be asking them to come up with a plan to cost his own policies.
The truth is that the rhetoric of the Gillard Labor Government is not matched by reality. Just like the carbon tax promise, and the promise to “let the sun shine in”, they say one thing but do another. No wonder Australians cannot trust this Prime Minister and her government.
Politics is often dominated by heated partisan debate. However, the role of the public service is to remain impartial at all times, otherwise we risk undermining the integrity and process of government.
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