Showing posts with label public service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public service. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Rise in perception of corruption in public service

In 2016-17 the Australian Public Service Commission (APS) finalised investigation of 1,720 code of conduct complaints which resulted in 1,494 breach findings. 

Sanctions were applied in the majority of breach cases by way of either official reprimand, reduction in salary or fines. Only 18.3 per cent of sanctions took the form of termination of employment and just 11.3 percent resulted in reduction in classification or reassignment of duties.

The most serious of these breaches by classification appeared to be:
287 breaches involving failure to behave honestly and with integrity;
126 breaches involving failure to use Commonwealth resources in a proper manner and for a proper purpose;
64 breaches involving improper use of: inside information, duties, status, power or authority;
50 breaches involving providing false or misleading information;
44 breaches involving conflict of interest; and
16 breaches involving failure to comply with all applicable Australian laws.

According to the Commission:

  1. Sixty-four per cent of those respondents reported that they had witnessed cronyism.
  2. Twenty-six reported that they had witnessed nepotism in the workplace.
  3. Twenty-one per cent reported that they had witnessed ‘green-lighting’, that is making official decisions that improperly favour a person or company, or disadvantage another.
The Guardian on 10 January 2018 reported this as representing a significant increase from the 2.6% who witnessed corruption in 2013-14 and the 3.6% of respondents in 2014-15.

The Australia Institute, 10 January 2018:

Corruption’s $72.3 billion hit to GDP

New research released today by the Australia Institute estimates the effects of rising perception of corruption in Australia since 2012 could have reduced Australia’s GDP by $72.3 billion, or 4%.

[Full report - see PDF below]

“Since 2012 Australia has slid from 7th to 13th on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with index score declining from 85 to 79,” said Rod Campbell, Australia Institute Director of Research and co-author of the report.

“Economic analysis estimates each point decline in this score translates into a reduction in GDP per capita of $486. Extrapolating across Australia’s population, our GDP could have been $72.3 billion higher this year had we maintained our 2012 reputation for minimal corruption.

“This is in line with World Economic Forum estimates that corruption costs 5% of GDP worldwide.

“The economic impacts of corruption are well-known. Business costs increase, capital is not allocated efficiency and inequality worsens.

“Australia needs policies to address this threat to our economy.

“A federal ICAC with teeth is needed to increase public trust and tackle the perception of corruption in Australia.

“The perception of corruption is on the rise, the number of public servants who have witnessed corrupt behaviour is on the rise and public trust in federal parliament is at an all-time low.

As well as the obvious democratic cost, corruption and the perception of corruption also costs our economy.

“Not only does corruption cost business, businesses do not want to operate in countries where there is a perception of corruption.”

“This research shows that the business community also has a stake in perceptions of corruption and should be supporting calls for a federal ICAC,” Campbell said.

Type of Publication: 
Download Publication: 
The Australia Institute
Posted on:
10 January 2018

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Senate estimates hearing accidentally exposed the pro-government bias of Registered Organisation Commission's senior management

The Mandarin, 1 December 2017:

Two federal statutory officials have admitted to making comments that Labor has seized on as raising doubts about their agency's independence.

The comments were made during a break in an Employment portfolio estimates hearing this morning exploring the Australian Federal Police raid on a union headquarters and involvement of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash's office.

One of the participants, Registered Organisation Commission's executive director Chris Enright (pictured), strongly hit back at claims he is not independent, or has questionable ethics through his 40 years of service in government and police roles.

Media present in an estimates hearing overheard the comments, including Buzzfeed reporter Alice Workman, who tweeted part of the exchange:

Alice Workman
Labor has called for the clerk so meeting resume for a few seconds but is suspended again. This is going to go on for a while. Cash seems very cheery as she uses break to leave the room, greeting people#estimates

Alice Workman
Overheard as committee on break: ROC and FWO officials joking that "this has been a very productive half hour" and "they could do this all day" as Labor's "getting pretty desperate" #estimates

That tweet enraged Labor senators when the hearing resumed. The Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James was not involved in the exchange. However, two officials owned up the exchange, Registered Organisations Commissioner Mark Bielecki and Chris Enright, ROC's executive director.

"How can you ever be regarded as independent [public servants] after the comments you just made?" asked a visibly angered Senator Doug Cameron.

The officials could not respond as Senator Ian Macdonald interjected, claiming the question was bullying the officials.

The chair Senator Linda Reynolds reminded officials that audio-visual Hansard rules do not apply during breaks and journalists may report anything they hear or observe in the building.

Cash directed officials to cover any documents they had brought from sight of journalists or cameras.

Alice Workman
To clarify: I did not listen in to any private convo. I was in room with my media pass and heard what everyone else around me did. 

The full comments cannot be verified without an investigation as Hansard rules do not permit the release of committee records when the hearing is not in session....

Also on Twitter was this plaintive tweet from the journalist mentioned above:
And this from the twitterverse:

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash, is learning the hard way that Australians expect the boss to act fairly

As a recognised bargaining representative of the Turnbull Government, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash is once more before the Australian Fair Work Commission.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), media release, 17 August 2016:


The CPSU has taken Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to the Fair Work Commission over her failure to engage in good faith around enterprise agreements for Commonwealth public sector workers.

The case is based on Minister Cash’s refusal to deal constructively with the CPSU, including refusing to discuss or properly consider the union’s fair and reasonable proposals to settle bargaining across multiple Commonwealth agencies.

Action in Fair Work is part of the union’s multi-pronged plan to make the Turnbull Government fix its public sector bargaining mess; the strategy also includes industrial action at international airports and elsewhere, community campaigning targeted in marginal electorates and repeated efforts to engage directly with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Cash.

CPSU National President Alistair Waters said: “Minister Michaelia Cash is responsible for setting and implementing the Turnbull Government’s harsh and unworkable approach to public sector bargaining. We’re taking her to Fair Work to hold her and the Turnbull Government accountable for this debacle that’s unfairly attacked workers for nearly three years.”

“Minister Cash hasn’t just refused to meet with the CPSU, she has also publicly misrepresented our position on numerous occasions and otherwise tried to undermine our attempts to help her fix the Turnbull Government’s bargaining mess. Our members have shown a willingness to compromise but Minister Cash’s responses have been consistently toxic and unfair.”

“There’s a bitter irony that we’ve had to take Minister Cash to the Fair Work Commission to get her to fulfil even her most basic obligations. This is the person who as Employment Minister is responsible for the Fair Work Act she’s flouting by actively undermining bargaining.”

“Public sector workers have fought for nearly three years to protect their existing rights against this Government’s bargaining attacks and they are determined to secure a fair and reasonable outcome. The only way for this protracted dispute to end is for the Turnbull Government to realise that its attempts to force workers to give up family friendly rights and other conditions have failed, and instead engage with us on a sensible alternative.”

“Our action in the Fair Work Commission is just one part of a much broader strategy to pressure Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Cash to fix their bargaining debacle. We’re also planning further industrial action in the wake of last week’s Immigration and Border Force strike at international airports and elsewhere and continuing with our community campaigning in marginal electorates.”

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Was a whistle about to blow regarding Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce misleading Parliament?

A public servant gives evidence at a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on 5 March 2015.

The Guardian 10 March 2015:

The secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Dr Paul Grimes, has gone on unexpected leave after requesting an extraordinary Senate committee hearing in order to provide “highly pertinent” information about a long-running saga over changes to the official Hansard record of answers given by his minister, Barnaby Joyce.

At the heart of the controversy is Joyce’s insistence to the parliament that corrections to the Hansard record of an incorrect answer he gave regarding drought support loans on 20 October had been made by his staff, without his knowledge, and that he had asked for the changes to be reversed when he became aware that they had been made.

The opposition agriculture spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, has been questioning whether Joyce did know about, or request, the changes – an allegation which, if proven, would mean Joyce had committed the sackable offence of misleading the House of Representatives.

Fitzgibbon has made freedom of information requests for information and documents relating to the process of changing the Hansard, and Grimes’ “highly pertinent” information related to documents not provided as a result of those requests.

Staff in the Department of Agriculture were advised Grimes had gone on leave on Friday afternoon, without usual information about the duration of his absence. Government and departmental sources said the leave was “unexpected”.

In the letter to the committee chair, obtained by Guardian Australia, Grimes wrote that he had suspected at least one document had not been provided as a result of the FOI request and that he also had “further relevant information”.

“Subsequent actions (in particular, the tabling of the document by the minister in the house of representatives on Tuesday 24 February) and my further inquiries within the department, including new information my officers had not previously provided to me and a telephone call with the minister’s chief of staff, have confirmed by concerns to have been correct,” Grimes wrote on 2 March.

“Without my intervention I considered there was great danger of the committee being inadvertently misled as to the existence of such a document, which it now seems was never released under FOI.

“I have further relevant information that would, I believe, be highly pertinent to the committee’s consideration of the broad context in which I considered that the further evidence I provided was necessary.”
But when the committee reconvened last Wednesday as a result of Grimes’s request – with a much larger turnout of Coalition senators than normal – Grimes did not provide significant new evidence. Some of the committee’s questions were taken on notice, meaning written answers will be provided by mid-April.

During that hearing, Labor’s Doug Cameron, questioning Grimes and indicating that he was reading from Grimes’s letter to the committee chair, said: “But you do also go on to indicate, ‘I have further relevant information that would, I believe, be highly pertinent to the committee’s consideration of the broad context in which I considered that the further evidence I provided was necessary.’ Then you say, ‘This includes specific information relating to the original alterations made to Hansard and the multiple actions I took personally at the time to seek rectification, including a personal meeting with the minister before the alterations became public.’”.....

His minister’s response on Friday 13 March 2015:

Sunday, 1 February 2015

ABBOTT'S AUSTRALIA: Is a public service fire sale on its way?

The Canberra Times 20 January 2015:

Tens of thousands more Australian  public service jobs are to be sized-up for potential privatisation as the Abbott government begins work on its "contestability program".
One public sector expert has warned the program is the beginning of a "slow bleed" of the federal bureaucracy that could ultimately see more than 30,000 Commonwealth government jobs lost in the coming years.
The Finance Department has confirmed that  "portfolio stocktakes" are underway with government departments being assessed to see if their work can be farmed-out to either the private sector or the  commonwealth's growing  "shared services" operation.
Departmental bosses will also be ordered to replace their public servants with technology wherever they can and ICON, the high-tech secure communication network linking government departments in Canberra is also being scoped for sale…..
The government has already shown it will not shy away from privatisations with scoping studies for sell-offs of the Australian Mint, Defence Housing Australia, Australian Hearing Services and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission registry already underway.
Medicare, Centrelink and some Veterans Affairs payment services may be taken over by private players and the Finance Department is also looking at the sale of ICON, the point-to-point fibre connection system that links 80 government agencies at 400 sites around Canberra.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Australian Government still failing to meet its overall target for Indigenous representation in the public sector

Perhaps MP for Warringah and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott , the self-declared Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, might like to inform voters as to how he is going to ensure that the 2.7 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ASTI) representation in the Australian Government public sector is finally met?

He has managed to boost the percentage of ASTI employees in the Dept. of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 0.8 per cent in 2012-13 to 14 per cent in 2013-14 by transferring approximately 260 staff from the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to his department.(a)

However, this does not increase indigenous representation overall.

Excerpts from The Auditor-General Audit Report No.33 2013–14 Performance Audit, Indigenous Employment in Australian Government Entities:

* 5. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that, as at June 2013, there were approximately 248 500 Australian Government employees located in metropolitan and regional locations nationally.2 Of these, 167 2573 were employed under the Public Service Act. The remaining employees were employed by Australian Government entities under entityspecific legislation. Entities employing staff under the Public Service Act are known as Australian Public Service (APS) agencies. Those employing under other legislation are known as nonAPS bodies.4 As at February 2014, there were 122 APS agencies5, and 86 nonAPS bodies including 66 Commonwealth authorities and 20 companies.6

* 2.43 ANAO analysis of 104 APS agencies indicated that 79 per cent (82 agencies), reported Indigenous representation within the agency of between zero to two per cent…..

* Overall conclusion

22. To promote increased Indigenous employment, Australian Government entities currently implement a range of strategies to support the recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees. These include: APS Special Measures and Identified Positions, and similar recruitment arrangements in nonAPS bodies, to attract and recruit Indigenous employees; Indigenous employee representative bodies, mentoring arrangements, and specialised training programs to enhance career development and increase retention; and cultural awareness training for nonIndigenous employees to support an inclusive work environment. The development and implementation of these strategies reflects a commitment to increase Indigenous employment and retention. However, achieving the Australian Government's overall target of 2.7 per cent Indigenous representation in the Australian Government public sector by 2015 is unlikely, based on current data and trends.

23. The target of 2.7 per cent included both APS agencies and other Australian Government bodies. In June 2013, Indigenous representation in the APS was reported by the APSC to be at 2.3 per cent, a decline from 2.9 per cent in 2001, to 2.7 per cent in 2004, and 2.5 per cent in 2010. While there are significant differences in the level of representation achieved by entities in the public sector, in general, most APS agencies18 (79 per cent) recorded less than 2 per cent Indigenous representation in their workforces. Overall, based on a total APS population of 167 257, Indigenous employees would need to number 4515, nearly 700 (669) more than are currently employed in the APS, to achieve 2.7 per cent representation in the APS.  

24. The overall performance of nonAPS bodies is more difficult to assess as a coordinated reporting approach does not exist for these bodies as it does for APS agencies. However some individual entity reporting does exist, which shows, similar to APS agencies, there is considerable variability amongst individual nonAPS bodies. The ANAO reviewed a sample of reports from nonAPS bodies for the financial year 2012 –13 which indicated that Indigenous representation in these organisations varied from 0.11 per cent to 68 per cent. In particular, nonAPS bodies with an Indigenousspecific service
focus recorded higher representation. Based on available data for individual nonAPS bodies, it is likely that nonAPS bodies, in general, face similar challenges in recruiting Indigenous employees and contributing to the Australian Government target of 2.7 percent.  

(a) As at 30 June 2014 the Dept. of Prime Minister and Cabinet had 2,467 employees, including part-time and non-ongoing employees. [DPMC Annual Report 2013-14]

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sssh, it's a secret! Chilling free speech in the public service

Canberra Times 8 April 2014:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's department has taken the bizarre step of declaring that its advice on how staff should use Facebook and Twitter is a secret, even though it was reported across the country.
The department's leaked Social Media Policy attracted controversy because it urges public servants to dob on colleagues who use the internet to criticise politicians or policies, even if they do so anonymously….

The leaked document reported in the Canberra Times on 8 April 2014:

Social Media Policy of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
April 8, 2014 - 2:16PM


The role of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is to provide policy and implementation advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Cabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary, Portfolio Ministers, and the Government as a whole.

PM&C's particular role in government administration, including its role in advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet across a wide range of policy areas, means that it is necessary to place some restrictions on employees' official and unofficial use of social media. These restrictions are directed at ensuring that:

* an employee's use of social media is consistent with the employee's obligations under the Public Service Act 1999, including the APS Code of Conduct; and
* public confidence in PM&C (and the APS more generally) as an impartial and effective public service is maintained.

Application of policy

This Policy applies to an employee's use of social media, including:

use of social media in an official capacity; and
use of social media in an unofficial capacity (whether professional or personal use).
Employees should be aware that the requirements contained in this Policy may extend to an employee's use of social media:
when using their personal computing devices, as well when using PM&C's IT systems or devices provided by PM&C; and
in the workplace and during work hours, as well as use that may occur outside of the workplace or outside of working hours.

For the purpose of this Policy, social media is defined as online technologies and resources that the public use to share information, resources and opinions. Examples of social media include social networking sites (such as Facebook and LinkedIn), content sharing sites (such as YouTube, Pinterest and Flickr), micro-blogging sites (such as Twitter) and blogs, forums, discussion boards and Wiki's including wikepedias.

If an employee becomes aware of another employee who is engaging in conduct that may breach this policy there is an expectation that the employee will report the conduct to the Department. This means that if you receive or become aware of a social media communication by another PM&C employee that is not consistent with this policy, you should advise that person accordingly and inform your supervisor.

Application of APS Code of Conduct and other PM&C Policies

The APS Code of Conduct, APS Values and other PM&C policies also apply to employees' use of social media, both in an official or unofficial capacity.

A failure to comply with this Policy may constitute a breach of the APS Code of Conduct. If an employee is found to have breached the APS Code of Conduct, the Secretary (or delegate) may determine that it is appropriate to impose a sanction, which could include termination of employment.

Other PM&C & APSC policies that may apply to employees when using social media include:

* PM&C ICT & Internet Usage Policy;
* PM&C Information and Communication Technology Security Policy;
* PM&C Workplace Bullying and Harassment Prevention Employment Guideline;
* Public Service Regulations 1999 Clause 2.1

PM&C Media Management Policy

PM&C now has a dedicated media team within the Strategic Communications Branch to handle all media enquiries.

If a journalist contacts you directly, do not provide comment or answer questions.

To ensure the department is best able to provide an accurate and timely response, you must immediately direct the journalist to submit their request in writing to the media team at

Responsibilities of employees when using social media in an official capacity

When using social media in an official capacity on behalf of PM&C, an employee must:

1. be authorised to use social media on behalf of PM&C. This authorisation will be a written authorisation provided by an SES employee within PM&C and will clearly set out permitted official use(s) of social media and any specific requirements or restrictions which the employee is required to observe when using social media in this capacity;
2. comply with PM&C's media and communications policies;
3. only post content where their role requires them to do so and their relevant SES Band 1 or above has authorised them to do so, using the Social Media Official Usage Authorisation Form;
4. uphold the APS Values, APS Employment Principles and APS Code of Conduct;
5. behave in a way that upholds the integrity and good reputation of PM&C specifically and the APS more generally;
6. be mindful of the requirements set out in Regulation 2.1 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 concerning the disclosure of information;
7. comply with PM&C's obligations under legislation including the Privacy Act 1988, the Archives Act 1983 and the Copyright Act 1968; and
8. not make statements that could bring PM&C or the APS into disrepute.

Unofficial Use of Social Media

There are two categories of unofficial use of social media:

* Personal use – where an employee engages in social media use as a private individual such as to communicate with friends and relatives, to keep up to date with particular products and trends and to follow news and current events.
* Professional use – where an employee engages in social media use as an experienced person in their field or subject matter expert, rather than as a PM&C employee.

For example, an employee who is a scientist might publish in an academic article online. Both categories of use are covered by this Policy.
Expressing opinions online

The Australian Public Service Commission Circular, Circular 2012/1: Revisions to the Commission's guidance on making public comment and participating online relevantly provides that:

* it is quite acceptable for APS employees to take part in the political life of their communities; and
* from time to time, APS employees may seek to participate robustly, like other members of the Australian community, in public policy conversations.

However, participation of this kind is qualified by the employee's obligations as an APS employee. The APSC Circular recognises these responsibilities by noting that:

The APS Values stipulate that the APS is, among other things, ‘apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner’, but this does not mean that APS employees must be apolitical in their private affairs. Rather, it means that employees should avoid behaving in a way that suggests they cannot act apolitically or impartially in their work.

All employees will need to make these judgements for themselves. Before posting material on matters of public policy, ask yourself whether a Prime Minister, from either political party, having read the material, would feel confident that any advice from you was impartial and balanced.

The responsibilities of PM&C employees when using social media are set out below.

Responsibilities of employees

When using social media, an employee must:

1. uphold the APS Values, APS Employment Principles and APS Code of Conduct (even when posting material anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym) (see section 4.9(e) below);
2. at all times behave in a way that upholds the integrity and good reputation of PM&C specifically and the APS more generally; and
3. be mindful of the requirements set out in Regulation 2.1 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 concerning the disclosure of information.

When using social media, an employee must not:

1. make comment which could be interpreted as an official statement on behalf of PM&C, the Commonwealth of Australia or the Government;
2. make comment that is, or could be perceived to be:
- compromising the employee's capacity to fulfil their duties in an unbiased manner;
- so harsh or extreme in their criticism of the Government, Government policies, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies, that they could raise questions about the employee's capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially;
- so strong in its criticism of the administration of PM&C that it could seriously disrupt the workplace;
- a gratuitous personal attack that might reasonably be perceived to be connected with their employment;
- unreasonable criticism of an agency's clients and other stakeholders; or
- compromising public confidence in PM&C or the APS;
3. include information about another person obtained through work or from which such a person could be identified, without their express written consent;
4. post derogatory comments, obscene material, or personal attacks that may call into question the integrity and good reputation of PM&C or the APS;
5. use social media as an avenue to engage in inappropriate activities or behaviours towards other PM&C employees or persons with whom an employee comes into contact in the course of their duties (stakeholders). Inappropriate activities, such as threatening, bullying or harassing behaviour, by PM&C employees towards other PM&C employees or stakeholders may be subject to the APS Code of Conduct, even if that conduct occurs outside the workplace;
6. act in a way that would call into question the employee's ability to perform their duties in an apolitical, impartial and professional manner;
7. post photos of other PM&C employees or stakeholders online without their permission; and
8. post photos of the interior of PM&C buildings or of PM&C documents.

Example of inappropriate personal use of social media

Case study

An employee who has insider knowledge about a particular area of the Department's work chooses to publicly air their concerns, disagreement and/or anger with the Government's policies on their social media account/s. The employee is critical or highly critical of the Department, the Minister or the Prime Minister.

Even if the employee doesn't use their real name, or identify their affiliation with the Department it is still possible for the comments to be linked back to the employee and the Department. This would be inappropriate personal use of social media and a potential breach of the APS Code of Conduct.

A similar case was recently deemed a dismissible offense by the Federal Court.


Publicly - includes the use of all social media regardless of an individual’s privacy and security settings. While the privacy and security settings may initially limit the number of people that can access the information; the information can be replicated, copied, forwarded to or viewed by persons who the employee did not intend as recipients.

When using social media in an unofficial professional capacity, an employee must:

1. notify his or her managers of any comments that the employee proposes to make in an 'expert' role that might reasonably reflect on their APS employment;
2. make clear, when making public comments, that he or she is not representing PM&C, the Commonwealth of Australia or the Government; and
3. manage situations where the relationship between the employee's professional interests and their APS employment may create ambiguity about the capacity in which the employee's comments are being made.

Example of inappropriate unofficial professional use of social media

Case study

Outside of their work at the Department an employee manages the social media presence of a local Energy Sustainability company. On the company website they post comments which are highly critical of the Government's policy on wind farms, drawing on information they have learned through their work at PM&C.

This is a conflict of interest, an inappropriate use of social media by the individual and a potential breach of the APS Code of Conduct.

Considerations when using social media

Employees should also be mindful of the following issues associated with the use of social media, which could lead to an employee's social media use contravening this Policy:

1. any information posted online in relation to an employee's employment (such as their role, duties or employing agency) may be able to be located easily (for example, using a search engine);
2. the speed and reach of online communications means that comments posted online might become available immediately to a wide audience, and may be replicated, copied and forwarded to, or viewed by persons who the author did not intend to see or receive the comments;
3. it may be difficult, or impossible, to delete material once it is uploaded to a social media forum;
4. employees should not rely on a social media forum's security settings as a guarantee of privacy, as material posted in a relatively secure setting can still be copied and reproduced elsewhere; and
5. employees must still uphold the APS Code of Conduct, APS Employment Principles and APS Values even when material is posted anonymously, or using an alias or pseudonym, and should bear in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an APS employee and/or as an employee of PM&C, they could nonetheless be identified as such. Employees should assume that even if they are posting anonymously or using an alias or pseudonym, their identity and the nature of their employment could be revealed.

Cyber-bullying of PM&C Employees

Cyber-bullying is any behaviour, using digital technologies, that could reasonably be considered humiliating, intimidating, threatening or demeaning to a person, or group of people, and which creates a risk to health and safety. Not every adverse comment or complaint using digital technologies is unreasonable or is an instance of cyber-bullying. Clients and other members of the public have a right to express their views or make a complaint online about agencies in the same way as they can in person or in writing. The problem arises when complaints are in the form of inappropriate online behaviour directed at PM&C employees.

Employees should be aware that the APSC has released guidance in relation to dealing with cyber-bullying by members of the public, titled Cyber-bullying of APS employees by members of the public. If you have a concern that you may have been subject to cyber-bullying by a member of the public, you should make a report to your supervisor immediately.

If you have a concern that another PM&C employee is engaging in cyber-bullying, the matter should be dealt with in accordance with the Workplace Bullying and Harassment Prevention Employment Guideline.

Further Information

If an employee has any queries about the operation of this Policy, are unsure about how this policy applies to them, or their use of social media, or they require a Social Media Official Usage Authorisation Form they should email HR Help at or phone extension 5454.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Tweeting Barry O'Farrell

Please explain why names all NSW Cabinet ministers freely available but not names ministers who sit on Cabinet sub-committees@barryofarrell

This is one tweet NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is sure to ignore, given it comes from Clarence Valley in the NSW state electorate of Clarence.

An electorate O'Farrell is attempting to keep in the dark about ongoing public service job cuts and, won't tell the media who is sitting on a committee which is allegedly looking to remedy this dismal situation as it plays out in Grafton.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Silly secrecy bedevils NSW Nationals

When it comes to the O’Farrell-Stoner Government’s alleged plans to replace jobs lost by its sudden and arbitrary closure of Grafton Gaol this month, this item has to be the height of absurdity.

In The Daily Examiner 21 July 2012:

What? Clarence Valley voters are not supposed to notice that, besides the NSW Cabinet Sub-Committee on Rural and Regional NSW being chaired by Deputy-Premier and Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner, there are also other government ministers involved?

It doesn't take a genius to work out that the Minister for Local Government and the North Coast, Nationals MP Don Page, is one of those likely to be on this sub-committee - and that having his electoral office at Ballina means he is in easy reach of irate Valley residents should any want to give him the benefit of their pithy personal opinions on the O'Farrell Government's recent cost cutting at their expense.

Update from The Daily Examiner on 24 July 2012 demonstrating the ridiculous position taken by the O'Farrell Government in that a full list of NSW Cabinet ministers is freely available to voters and the media, but the names of ministers sitting on specific cabinet sub-committees are a closely guarded state secret - even though identical confidentiality provisions apply to both Cabinet and its sub-committees:

THE Clarence Valley has been stonewalled by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner's office which has refused to detail the membership, agenda or meeting schedule of the committee tasked to find new Grafton jobs (within the next seven weeks) following the jail downgrade.
A spokesman for the NSW Nationals leader confirmed his boss chaired the Rural and Regional Sub-Committee but he would not reveal other members because "the sub-committee reports to Cabinet, and as such the matters it discusses are confidential".
"Cabinet confidentiality is a long-standing and fundamental principle of Westminster Government, and just like other jurisdictions, NSW does not publish information regarding Cabinet agendas, discussions, meeting times etc," he said.
"Having said that, the Government is ultimately accountable to the voting public and should be judged on its results.
"Of course, in this instance, the output of the Cabinet and Cabinet sub-committee process will be announced publicly, at which time the Government will fully respond to detailed questions."

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Plibersek Industrial Relations Philosophy - I own you body and soul

The not-for-profit workforce
It was estimated that 5.2 million Australian volunteered in 2007 (ABS 2007b). Of these, 4.6 million were estimated to volunteer with the NFP sector. Around two-thirds of these volunteer with NFPs that do not have employees. The volunteer workforce was estimated in the ABS satellite accounts to provide over $14.6 billion of unpaid labour in 2006-07.

The theme of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer is ‘Inspire the Volunteer in You’. Pierre, your work as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development and your fundraising for Habitat for Humanity has certainly inspired many here today.
Thank you for asking me to be with you today to help launch the Australian Volunteers for International Development Program.
Australians are a generous and compassionate people. In 2006, over 5 million people – that’s more than one-in-three adult Australians – volunteered for an estimated 700,000 not-for-profit and non-government organisations.
[Minister for Human Services and Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek, Transcript: Launch of the Australian Volunteers for International Development, 2011]

LAST week, Tanya Plibersek challenged Australian governments and businesses to create a stronger and more sustainable volunteering sector. This week, 37,000 employees in her department were told that if they wished to engage in volunteering activities in the future, they would have to get their manager's permission first…..
For the first time, unpaid weekend volunteer work will come under the scrutiny of departmental supervisors, and public sector employees must get approval before undertaking such work. Employees must apply for a renewal of that approval every 12 months and will also be subject to a ''regular review'' of their activities.
The new policy also requires public servants to tell the department if the nature of their volunteering duties within a charitable or not-for-profit organisation changes during the 12-month period.
[Brisbane Times,10 December 2011, Public servants told to seek approval to volunteer]

Last week the Federal Department of Human Services tried to turn Australia’s volunteering culture on its head.

Ms. Plibersek denies any input into this new policy, however the minister of the day sets the tone for such changes to occur.

She personally, the department she heads and government generally need to recognise that their workers are neither serfs, indentured servants nor outright slaves – they do not own them body and soul.

An employer has a right to direct an employee for the period of each day which represents the agreed work day – not one jot more than that. Traditionally this broke each day of the working week down into Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.

The sort of skewed thinking which demands 24/7 allegiance to the wishes of an employer more properly belongs to the likes of the Liberal and National parties not the Australian Labor Party.

Ms.Plibersek needs to remember to which political party she actually belongs, as does the Prime Minister under whose leadership this attitude towards public servants has obviously been allowed to flourish.

Cartoon from ClipartOf

Friday, 14 October 2011

A Crikey whistle-blower bites the dust?

On 9th December 2010 an Executive Level 2 public servant went on leave until late January 2011.

On 22nd December 2010 Crikey in its Tips and rumours segment published this:
Climate Change in debt… The Department of Climate Change is planning a major debt recovery program in the New Year to recover hundreds of millions of dollars rorted under the Household Insulation Program/Low Emmission Assistance Program for Renters, and rescue packages including the Insulation Industry Assistance Program. The Department continues to mismanage not only the primary pink batts program, but all subsequent rescue programs as well at Australian taxpayers’ expense.
The Department is facing multi-million dollar lawsuits in which it does not have the capital to cover. Maybe this is the reason for Prime Minister Gillard appointing Dr Parkinson from the Department of Climate Change to the new role of Treasury Secretary to fund the bail-out.
…and sub-contracts training. The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency sub-contracts Price Waterhouse Coopers to manage the Home Insulation Safety and Rectification programs. Price Waterhouse Coopers sub-contract CSR Bradfords and United Group Limited to conduct inspections and rectifications of houses who had insulation installed under the failed pink batts program.
The Department is paying all training costs of CSR Bradfords staff to be trained as Home Insulation Safety Inspectors but not funding any component of United Group Limited contractors to undertake the same training. How much is the training costing the Australian tax payer and why the inequity in funding arrangements favouring one commercial organsiation over another?
And pink batts still cause grief. Almost 12 months after the Department of Climate Change cancelled its failed pink batts program installers are still no closer to finalising their affairs. Some businesses have gone into liquidation, losing everything they have, while others have resorted to other more desperate means by attempting to take their own lives (which the Department is well aware of). Still the Department mismanages the clean-up of this disastrous insulation program. Not that you would know with a number of executives in the Department responsible for the program getting performance bonuses, awards or promotions as a result of their participation.”
There was another mention of the department in Tips and rumours on 10th January 2011.

On 30th January 2011 this public servant lost his job and on 7th June 2011 his dismissal from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was confirmed in a decision by Fair Work Australia. On 16th September 2011 an appeal of this decision was dismissed.
Crikey was mentioned almost in the same breath as “potential breaches of the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct”. It seems Now with extra source has a dangerous ring to it if you want to walk those departmental corridors.