When John Howard 'ruled' Australia he had government departments and agencies so cowed that they rarely stepped too far from the right-wing message. Even the CSIRO at times appeared to self-censored itself in order to save some grief. Nobody wanted to place either their promising careers or somewhat pedestrian jobs at risk.
But what the Rudd Government is attempting right now seems to be a new twist.
"A directive was issued this week by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to about a dozen statutory agencies.
Recipients include the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the Australian Research Council, the Co-operative Research Centres and Invest Australia. Even the Questacon science museum in Canberra was sent the directive.
It says the Prime Minister's office has instructed that "all strategic media releases which relate to the Government's key messages" must be forwarded to the department which will then submit them to the office of the minister, Kim Carr.
If necessary, Senator Carr would send the release to the Prime Minister's office. The department would contact the agency "regarding required changes".
The directive says releases "of a more pedestrian nature" need not be vetted but anything to do with climate change, industrial relations policy, education and science reform, tax policy, national security and health must be submitted."
The Sydney Morning Herald today:
It makes one wonder if Rudd Government ministers are not being welcomed with open arms by the now highly politicised public service and its agency cousins.