Can You Help?

This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


Become a Patron!


Young Workers Drawn To Queensland Public Service

This is the text of a media release from the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie.

Premier Peter Beattie said today bright young Queenslanders were being recruited into the public service, to help build the Smart State.

Mr Beattie said a dedicated professional public service employment stream had attracted almost 20,000 graduates in three years.

“The 19,700 graduates drawn into this stream are additional to the young people who were separately recruited into departments,” Mr Beattie said. [Read more…]


Simon Crean Queries John Anderson On Sacking Of Allan Hawke

Following the Federal Government’s termination of Allan Hawke as Secretary of the Defence Department, the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, directed a question in the House of Representatives to the Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson.

Crean asked why the government has decided not to renew Dr. Hawke’s contract. Anderson did not provide a clear answer. [Read more…]


The ‘Truth Factory’: Robert Stewart Parker And The Public Service

John Uhr’s obituary of Robert Parker appeared in the Canberra Times and the ANU Reporter.

Robert Stewart Parker: 1915-2002

Robert Parker, who died on 31 July at the age of 87, was one of Australia’s foremost scholars in the fields of politics and public administration. He was professor and head of the ANU’s political science program in the research school of social sciences from 1962 until his retirement in 1978. He had been reader in public administration at the ANU since 1954, after earlier appointments as a social sciences fellow from 1946-49. He was president of the Australasian Political Studies Association in 1963-64, and one of the very few to hold this position with extensive professional experience on both sides of the Tasman.

Parker was born in Sydney in 1915, graduating from North Sydney Boys’ High in the mid-Depression when he postponed his early hopes for full-time university study in literature and history. He began full-time employment as a state public servant. His work in the NSW bureau of statistics moved him in the direction of economic analysis, with his supervisors encouraging him to complete an economics degree at night over the years 1933-1937, which he obtained with first class honours. During this time at the University of Sydney, Parker characteristically broadened his studies to include philosophy under John Anderson and social science under P H Partridge, later a colleague at the ANU. [Read more…]


Supply And The Budget

In the past week we have seen the presentation to Parliament of the Federal Government’s budget.

What happened?

Firstly, a number of constitutional provisions are relevant:

  • AppropriationSection 83 of the Australian Constitution states that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law.” This means that even though the government was elected eight months ago, it does not have the right to simply spend public money as it likes. All money must be appropriated by the Parliament. This is commonly referred to as Supply.The tradition has developed whereby Appropriation and Supply bills are presented twice yearly to the Parliament for its approval. Hence, the survival of any government depends on the twice-yearly approval by Parliament of its Appropriation Bills known as the Budget (May-June) and its Appropriation Bills known as Supply (October-November).

  • Initiation by the House of RepresentativesSection 53 of the Constitution states that “Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.” This fulfills the political value of the People’s House retaining control over taxation. The House of Representatives is popularly elected, whereas the Senate represents each State equally, regardless of population. It is for this reason that elections for the House of Representatives, not the Senate, determine who shall form government.Even though the Appropriation bills must be initiated by the House of Representatives, they must also be passed by the Senate. Senate 53 says: “Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.”Section 53 further states: “The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.” It also says: “The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.” By convention, the Senate does not reject Appropriation or Supply bills, since this would have the effect of bringing down the government. This convention was broken in spectacular fashion in 1975, resulting in the Governor-General’s dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

  • Ordinary Annual Services of GovernmentSection 54 of the Constitution states that: “The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.”Ordinary annual services includes things such as the daily operational costs, including salaries of public servants, members of the armed services, and other day-to-day expenses of government. It also includes a large proportion of social welfare payments and other government programs.The effect of Section 54 is that the government presents three Appropriation Bills to the House. An agreement between the Senate and the House in 1965 determined the allocation of items classed as for the ordinary annual services of the government and those that were not. A separate bill to fund the operations of the Parliament itself is also submitted.

Hence, on May 14, 2002, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, introduced three bills into the House of Representatives. The total appropriation of the bills is $49,732,888,000 ($49.7 billion).

  1. Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and for related purposes”.The bill appropriates $43,445,965,000 ($43.4 billion). This is broken down amongst various government departments as follows:

    Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 450,388,000
    Attorney-Generals 1,779,689,000
    Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 2,393,837,000
    Defence 18,235,532,000
    Veterans Affairs 416,773,000
    Education, Science and Training 2,095,139,000
    Employment and Workplace Relations 1,674,687,000
    Environment and Heritage 515,815,000
    Family and Community Services 3,095,628,000
    Finance and Administration 458,570,000
    Foreign Affairs and Trade 2,658,605,000
    Health and Ageing 3,019,484,000
    Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2,261,872,000
    Industry, Tourism and Resources 853,143,000
    Prime Minister and Cabinet 164,842,000
    Transport and Regional Services 605,532,000
    Treasury 2,766,429,000
    Total 43,445,965,000


  2. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for certain expenditure, and for related purposes”.The Budget Papers say that this bill appropriates money for

    • grants to the States under Section 96]/popup] of the Constitution and payments to the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory;
    • administered expenses for new outcomes;
    • departmental equity injections, loans and previous year’s outputs; and
    • administered assets and liabilities.

    The bill appropriates $6,120,821,000 ($6.1 billion). This is broken down amongst various government departments as follows:

    Appropriation Bill (No.2) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 158,193,000
    Attorney-Generals 104,614,000
    Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 113,945,000
    Defence 1,315,415,000
    Veterans Affairs 20,391,000
    Education, Science and Training 124,688,000
    Employment and Workplace Relations 12,950,000
    Environment and Heritage 9,390,000
    Family and Community Services 1,970,488,000
    Finance and Administration 78,507,000
    Foreign Affairs and Trade 231,869,000
    Health and Ageing 1,138,525,000
    Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 87,237,000
    Industry, Tourism and Resources 107,950,000
    Prime Minister and Cabinet 734,000
    Transport and Regional Services 411,946,000
    Treasury 233,979,000
    Total 6,120,821,000


  3. Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for expenditure in relation to the Parliamentary Departments, and for related purposes”.The bill appropriates $166,102,000 ($166.1 million). This is broken down as follows:

    Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No.1) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Senate 29,369,000
    House of Representatives 29,938,000
    Joint House Department 44,817,000
    Parliamentary Library 17,522,000
    Parliamentary Reporting Staff 44,456,000
    Total 166,102,000

What About The Rest Of The Money?

A second version of the three Appropriation Bills outlined above will be presented to the Parliament in the Spring Session in October-November. Together, the six bills account for around 30% of government expenditure for the year.

The remaining 70% of expenditure is funded by special appropriations in particular legislation presented to the Parliament by the relevant ministers. “Special appropriations provide funds for specified purposes, for example, to finance a particular project or programme.”

The current controversy about changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme does not affect the passage of the Appropriation Bills. Separate legislation will deal with these changes. These changes may be rejected in the Senate by the combined forces of the ALP and the Australian Democrats.


Abbott, Public Service Basher, Repents

This article appeared in the Canberra Times.

By VERONA BURGESS, Public Service Reporter

Tony Abbott was never averse to the age-old sport of public-service bashing that is, until he became a minister.

Now the new Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Australian Public Service says he is a “complete convert” to its quality and strengths.

Mr Abbott – who is also the Minister for Employment and Leader of the House of Representatives – heaped praise on the Public Service yesterday, telling The Canberra Times his department’s senior public servants had very high-level skills which he thought “would leave many private-sector managers for dead”.

Mr Abbott said he could not speak about the whole Public Service yet, nor outline any agenda, because he was still “learning the ropes”. [Read more…]


John Howard: The Australian Public Service

This is a transcript of the speech given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, to the Centenary Conference of the Institute of Public Administration.

Prime Minister John HowardI am pleased to be here today to present the ‘Centenary of the APS Oration’.

I share with you the hope that today’s conference and the other events being held this week will publicise the significant role the Australian Public Service has played in building the strong and vibrant nation that both public servants and politicians have the honour to serve.

It has been a remarkable century of achievement, well documented during the Federation celebrations of recent months. But today is an occasion to recognise that behind all the successes, in peace and in war, have been generations of dedicated Australian men and women working for the common good as public servants.

Whilst we must always be careful not to mythicise the past and those who lived within it, clearly the efforts and the vision of many of your predecessors made a profound and lasting difference to the character of our society. [Read more…]


New Secretary Appointed To Attorney-General’s Department

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced the appointment of Mr. Robert Cornall as the new Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department.

The Secretary used to be known as the “permanent head” of the department, a coloquial title no longer used since Secretaries are now appointed on 5-year contracts. The Secretary is the administrative head of the department, reporting directly to the Minister. [Read more…]


New Head of Defence Department Appointed

Prime Minister John Howard has announced the appointment of Dr. Allan Hawke as Secretary to the Department of Defence, replacing Mr. Paul Barratt who was sacked in controversial circumstances earlier this year.

In announcing the decision, Mr Howard said:

“Dr. Hawke has served effectively as Secretary to the Department of Transport and Regional Services since 1996 and, before that, as Secretary to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Dr. Hawke will bring to his new position not only experience at the Secretary level but also a sound knowledge of defence issues. From the mid-1980s he held a number of senior positions in the Department of Defence, culminating in his appointment as Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Intelligence, in the Department from 1991 to 1993.”

Dr. Hawke will take up his appointment on Thursday 21 October 1999 for a period of three years.

Departmental secretaries are an important aspect of the Australian political system. As the administrative
heads of government departments, they are responsible for the implementation of government policy and legislation, as well as the provision of advice to the government.

Dr. Hawke’s relationship with Defence Minister, John Moore, will be of interest to political observers, especially in the light of the rapid breakdown of relations with Mr. Barratt.


The Axemen Cometh

This article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 1, 1997.

It has stood the test of time as an insight into the Howard government’s approach to the public sector.

After serving as head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Max Moore-Wilton went on to be chairman of the Sydney Airport Corporation Limited.

Text of article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

They call him Max the Axe – and a lot more that’s not printable. With the help of other like-minded men, John Howard’s chief bureaucrat is radically changing the philosophy and practice of Australia’s public sector – and the role government plays in our lives. JODIE BROUGH and MICHAEL MILLETT report.

On his first day as the chief executive officer of the Maritime Services Board, Max Moore-Wilton drove into the building’s underground car park. There he encountered a uniformed man who stopped him from parking in the space closest to the lift. [Read more…]