Sunday 26 May 2024

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Contact 1800 772 679

The magazine of the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)

Don’t Need Consultant To See A Giant Rort

Don’t Need Consultant To See A Giant Rort

Politicians should be trusted about as far as they can be thrown – the designers of our Westminster system of government understood this. So they prescribed a safeguard: an independent public service to serve the interests of the people above politicians. It worked well for a century. But it’s now broken. Through 12 years of

Politicians should be trusted about as far as they can be thrown – the designers of our Westminster system of government understood this.

So they prescribed a safeguard: an independent public service to serve the interests of the people above politicians. It worked well for a century. But it’s now broken.

Through 12 years of savage cuts the former state government hollowed out the NSW public service and shoved private consultancy firms into the gaps.

Thankfully, a legislative inquiry into the role of consultants has now been established and will report later this year. It should recognise the problem is not bad apples but the destruction of a pillar of society.

Consultants don’t want to be frank and fearless, they want to generate profit.

The customer is not the public, it’s whoever signs the cheques.

So when the government wants to spend a billion dollars building a new Powerhouse, even though the existing one is fine, they are supported by consultants. When it wants a quick boost to the budget by selling off an income-generating monopoly like the Land Titles Registry – well, you’ll never guess who gives it the nod.

So the Minns Government must put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It’s not an enviable task, because after such a thorough draining the NSW public sector now needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

But there are immediate steps the government can take. For example, the government could implement “follow the money” laws, like those already in place in other states, so the state’s auditors can hold consultants to account about what they actually delivered in exchange for taxpayer dollars.

A Goldman Sachs whistleblower once noted the most valuable type of clients were known internally as “Muppets” – dumb cashed-up behemoths who could be tapped over a long period of time. It’s time for the Minns Government to pull the hand of consultancy from the state’s nether regions.

Stewart Little, General Secretary, Public Service Association of NSW

First appeared in Sunday Telegraph 25/6/2023

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