Accountability should be at the heart of the Government and the Public Service
I think that the sense of obligation, which was once carried with pride by public figures in service of the community, has been replaced by a sense of entitlement.
With that has come a steady erosion of accountability and manipulation of departmental performance to suit the bureaucracy. Unless you have an accounting degree, the State accounts and true financial performance of departments is a game of secrecy and misinformation that all but the insiders cannot follow.
At the annual estimates hearings, Ministers answer for their managers, not the managers themselves. How then might the performance of the department be properly assessed and held to account? At the moment, for example, TasWater is transparent and accountable. If, say, the Government’s proposed take over of the organisation proceeds, gone will be the opportunities to independently assess TasWater’s accounts; to question directors and management about performance and progress; and to argue for change and improvements based upon performance.
The Government will argue the merits of a proposed takeover of TasWater but, having a private sector background, I would have voted for the independence of TasWater over the largess and inefficiency of bureaucracy every time: that way at least our water and sewerage assets can be managed, monitored, profits retained and the organisation not subject to sticky fingers from a Government with a deficit problem when the cold winds return to economic times, which they will on the next downturn.
If the Legislative Council does not hold the Government to account – who will?