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Our revolving door


nomadpete
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Does the revolving door of politics benefit our country?

If it doesn't, is there any way to arrest the process?

 

For example, I just noticed an 'expert' comment about banking that was attributed to a long forgotten political figure....

'Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh'

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Forther example taken from

MM website

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/revolving-doors-australias-fossil-fuel-networks/

 

Australia slipped further down the rankings in the international corruption index. Among a wide range of factors cited by Transparency International was Australia’s “inappropriate industry lobbying in large-scale projects such as mining”, as well as “revolving doors and a culture of mateship”.

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Latest is that Peter Dutton has is accused of doing the same as the previous sports minister. he of course denies it, but then he wold deny anything just to be awkward.

Our PM is not doing his job, he appears to be trying to keep a squeaky clean face while his ministers are less than honest.

The opposition is anticipating that there will be an election in the not too far distant future and are already coming up with ideas to ensure that they appear totally incompetent before the election.

They want casual workers, who get a rate of pay above that of permanent workers to get annual holiday, sick leave and long service leave on top of casual rates. Casual rates are loaded so that they include those extras. I know, I spent the last few years of my working life on them, just so that I could knock back jobs i didn't want to be involved in.

Labor seem to want to be the opposition. They have decided that governing doesn't have enough going for it, so they want to sit on the sidelines and snipe. Pity because the Lib / Nat parties are not doing us any good. Maybe the electorate will wake up and vote Green, then we would really be in the brown sticky stuff.

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This is nothing new, and if we ignore America, which seems designed to foster such revolving door relationships, has been happening all over the western democractic woorld. An irony, when you consider that the idea of democracy is to be transparent and accountable, yet ois where soome of the digiest deals are done. And, it is not restricted to elected officials.. I have been involved in one UK government project that was awarded to all the major consultancies bar the one that was barred from government work at the time. The company I worked for was subcontracted by one fo the consultancies, wo while we didn't have to maintain the direct commercial relationships, we still endup having to hire an ex-departmental employee to navigate the dark and labrynithic entanglement of their structures. Although my role on the project was purely technical, I fathomed at the sheer size of what was being deployed against what the desired outcome was. I can't state how much per day was being spent on it - in the late 90's, but the figure I heard was well into the 7 figures of £, not pennies. The project had been going for about a year when we were brought in, and had at least a year to go... Let's say the projected savings (and that was what this project was about) was less than £20m/year - and that was an optimistic projection. If you think the BLF used to get embroled in demarcation disputes, you haven't seen anything..

 

So, how did those who were charged with ensuring taxpayer value for money let things get out of hand? Well, there are two reasons. First, it's not their money (directly) and no-one gets fired. No disrespect meant to the many hard working civil/public servants with integrity, but the whole system is not geared for taking responsibility and civiv duty. The other reason could probably be found in the myriad of civil servants in budgetary decision making roles that, after the closure of hte project, managed to secure employment with the consultancies in positions senior to their abilities... It did seem a little coincidental.. .but was confirmed when one bragged about it in one fo the wind-down dinners...

 

 

 

 

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I notice that Australia is now at number 11 in the list of countries with respect to corruption.

The reasons for Australia being so low are  political "donations". Apparently educated Chinese regard this as evidence of complete corruption. They don't understand that a company would give millions just out of the good of their hearts.

Contracts are another corrupt thing. I reckon that after the contract has been awarded, all documents should be made public and lower bidders should have an avenue of redress if they were corruptly denied the job.

Both these things ( ban on political donations and an ombudsman for lower bidders ) would pass a popular vote I reckon.

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Jerry, WRT your post, if your example was an isolated case, the world would be a better place.

Over the years I've seen similar stuff go on, and what bothers me most is that it happens at all levels of desk pushers, in government and private enterprise, from top to bottom. Even right down to just above my (tradesman) level. And at my level it irritated most.

 

Possibly something to do with a cute saying that my colleague used to console me with - "It's only a rort if you're not in on it"

Edited by nomadpete
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1 hour ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

I notice that Australia is now at number 11 in the list of countries with respect to corruption...

 

...after the contract has been awarded, all documents should be made public and lower bidders should have an avenue of redress if they were corruptly denied the job...

The NSW Premier’s office shredded all documents and deleted digital copies after a recent Pork Barrelling fiasco.
Hardly a murmur of disapproval from the press.

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They didn't break any laws. That is the get out of jail card for pollies. They make the laws, so of course they don't break them.

There should be a body looking at government transactions and decisions to se if they are ethical. We see it all the time. pollies make decisions that the general population considers corrupt, but they are OK because there was no law against it.

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9 hours ago, nomadpete said:

Jerry, WRT your post, if your example was an isolated case, the world would be a better place.

Over the years I've seen similar stuff go on, and what bothers me most is that it happens at all levels of desk pushers, in government and private enterprise, from top to bottom. Even right down to just above my (tradesman) level. And at my level it irritated most.

 

Possibly something to do with a cute saying that my colleague used to console me with - "It's only a rort if you're not in on it"

You are quite right.. I was once retained by a government authority as part of a team to select a software/implementation vendor on a multi-million deal - from memory the quotes came in from c. 10m to 30m.. so not too huge - although it was back in 2004. As we were writing up the formal tender doc, one of the authority's management team were insistent we put in a minimum of 2m professional indemnity insurance requirement in the tender. I quizzed why the 2m, suggesting we go to pre-tender to get vendors to provide rough estimates which would give us a better guide - thinking the cost would be a lot more and we should set it higher.. He finally admitted that it was to encourage only the larger consutlancy and software providersto bid.. In one of my least tactful moments, I burst out into laughter informing him that 2m was about the lowest level of professional indemnity one could get - mine, a a measly contractor on well south of that was 5m, because it covers loss/waste of the client, not just my fees (which fell well short of the insured levels, unfortunately).  So incompetence on their part had a little to play there...

 

Anyway, come bid evaluation and, yes, we got bids from most of the encumbent industry vendors rather than the big 4 or 5 or whatever it was. All of these bids were very strong and pricing was within an expected range. We got a bid fromone of the big consultancies, two of the big tech players. The big consultancy were pedalling another player's software and offering implementation services at eye-watering rates, so that was promptly discarded. One of the big tech companies had their own software that could do the work with minor customisation, but were price competitive, so went to the next evaluation round. The other bigh tech company, a well known integrated enterprise software vendor, had literally no existomg specific functionality, and, from memory was the highest bid - it certainly wasn't competitve. In answer to almost every question of functionality, their response was soemnthing like "we can build it". We couldn't put our finger on it, but there was a smugness in their bid document as well.

 

Well, in the first round, which is to toss out the frivilous submissions (of which there were many one pagers introducing their consultancy services), out that submission went. A couple of days later we called to front and centre the CEO/Director General of the authority with a please explain why we threw out that submission. It wasn't hard to explain.. they had to build everything (apart from some accounting functions we were after), and they were expensive.. high risk stratgy for an authority that was subject of potential privatisiation only a couple of years ago.. wouldn't look good on the authority or him if we went with them instead of the specialists and they screwed it up. But, he pushed stating if anyone could build it, they could.. which is the same as saying, "well, I want them to build it for us rather than buy an established product". He eventually relented.

 

We selected a vendor and negotiated, but just before contracts were concluded, the CEO canned the project as too expensive. We weren't going ot be around for the implementation anyway as the contract had the supplier implementing the solution, but it did seem a bit strange given he was prepared to go with an expensive vendor, taking a high-risk approach. Turns out in a couple of years, that vendor did get a look in to replace the financial systems and the CEO got a plum job with them after it was all over.

 

Yep - it happens a lot..

 

4 hours ago, Yenn said:

They didn't break any laws. That is the get out of jail card for pollies. They make the laws, so of course they don't break them.

There should be a body looking at government transactions and decisions to se if they are ethical. We see it all the time. pollies make decisions that the general population considers corrupt, but they are OK because there was no law against it.

The Auditor Generals office in each state and at the federal level do look into it, but apart form publish the issues, I am not sure what happens after that. The problem is, they look into it after the fact.. When I worked for the Vic state government  in my very first software dev job, any new purchases or large projects had to go through VicComp, to ensure they mey standards, etc. I was too inexperienced to even get involved in that process, let alone cast judgement, but in our department's new team, they were known as VicInComp...

 

There is a whole story on that "new team" we had to build out.. Suffice to say, I was sent to the NSW equivalent department for a day to look at what they had done (which was where we wanted to be)... and when I came back and suggested that we simply buy their technology and modify the dealing part to meet Vic laws, I was almost laughed out of the office. I left about 6 months later, and took some peculiar satisfaction at reading the state auditor general's  report into the project, which was slated to go for 2 years, was 2 years in and had 2 years to go..

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Government is the biggest teat in town for private enterprise.  And whoever says that a big public service is a waste of money doesn't think about how much the government wastes on private contractors, whose staff, professional though they may be, don't know the business, and don't have the deep knowledge of all the little tricks and workarounds that the long term permanent public servants have.

Plus the contracting company is out to make a profit.

I think there's an element of truth in what Jerry says about politicians slipping straight into highly paid private enterprise jobs after they leave, probably with the level of the salary commensurate with the amount of contracts they've funneled to that company while in office.

As Bruce says, ban political donations.  Period.  But I'd go one step further and say that when a politician of ministerial rank leaves the government, they're banned from working for 2 years.  For anyone.  Keep paying their salary for that time but they can't work, go on boards, be directors or whatever else.  By that time their value to any company from inside knowledge or contacts will not be high enough to justify their overpaid sinecures so there won't be that level of corruption.

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I think there is an alternative to a ban on work...

 

First, they should be banned from all forms of lobbying work - I would say 5 years rather than 2... because that surpasses an election cycle. The ban should be for both paid and non-paid, formal or informal lobbying. There may be a grey area about a successor asking advice, but it has to be shown to be impartial and not favouring a contractor or supplier over another.

 

Second, they should be banned for the same period from taking direct or indirect employment or benefit from companies they have been involved  the award of government business to, or their affiliates, businesses/affiliates of family members of management/executives/board of the vendors (at the time), etc.

 

In fact, thinking about it, taking a 2 year ban and then freedom to do anything after that, I would seriously want to get into a position of influencing a large procurement.. Such positions probably go for between 100K and 150K (maybe more)... I could do that one big procurement and privately negotiate with a vendor a lucrative package with them commencing in 2 years time. I leave, spend 2 years on gardening leave with a nice packet, and then walk into that lucrative job... Sounds like a plan, to me...

 

Edited by Jerry_Atrick
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Let's look at the CV of your average Minister.

 

The current trend is for a person to leave school and obtain a Degree, usually in Law, Political Science or some other Mickey Mouse subject. While at university, they join the on-campus branch of their preferred Party, and may even do a stint as a rep on a student representative body. If they work hard at that, they leave uni and join the Party administration. More good work there gets them nominated to run in an election in a seat that they are most likely to win because of the voting habits of the electorate.

 

Once in parliament, they do the mucky work until they build up a reputation and are given - not earn - a Ministerial posting. The choice ones are those involving a great deal of interaction with the Private Sector, shelling out licences and awarding contracts. Eventually, they poop in their own nest by doing something that is not PC and are forced to resign - always "to spend more time with the family", or else they reach retirement age. Then they get offered consultancies, or board membership by the Private Sector companies they have built up liaisons with over the years.

 

Apart from knowing how to sign off on a contract, how many Ministers would have actual knowledge of the basics of the activities of the Private Sector with which they had dealt? How many Ministers actually have the knowledge and experience of the nitty-gritty of the matters they are approving? It is like the Queen using a sword to dub a new knight. She can use the sword ceremonially, but couldn't use it for its proper purpose.

 

It appears that Trump never read the advisory reports he was given. Not many people knew that before 2020. How many of our politicians are in the same boat, but nobody is telling?

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13 minutes ago, old man emu said:

I remember back to when I was in the Police. The English show, The Bill was being shown here. We had an Englishman for a Commissioner - Peter Ryan. It seems that what police procedures we saw on The Bill pretty soon were given to us in On-the-Job training sessions.

At least he didn't make you wear funny hats and chase felons with a whistle and a stick.

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I mentioned to   an overenthusiastic Vic Copper after he had pulled me over in Moonee Ponds examining all the Mother in Laws  garden cuttings I had in the back of my Transit Van. at great depth, that HE had been watching too many episodes of Softly Softly. My sense of humour was obviously more developed than HIS. .  My sense of self preservation needed some attention though.  My HONEST face didn't work either. Nev 

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Have a look at our current crop of pollies.

Anastasia the Qld Premier comes from a family of politicians. I have no idea what her field of expertise or training is, but she does seem to be able to gather knowledgable people around her and use their expertise, although she did slip up with her previous offsider.

Gladys from NSW, again I know nothing about her, but she sits idly by while Scott Morrison blames her for his mismanagement.

Dan from Victoria. Seems a nice sort of bloke, wouldn't say boo to a goose, but that is because he wouldn't recognise a goose, probably think it was a chook.

My local federal member O' Driscoll, absolutely useless and the nationals were at one stage considering him for leader. The good news is that he says he will not stand at the next election.

Maybe they are not anything special, but remember Joe B'Jelke Peterson and Russ hinze and be thankfull.

We had one state pollie in our electorate, worked for years as a guard on the railway and was a union man. Became the Labor member and was completely useless, the last I heard of him he was shoplifting.

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