There are jobs at Centrelink, apparently

Have a look at the Public Service job vacancies for Canberra. In all there are only 13, with most of them being an invitation to put your name on a temporary register. As you may be aware, the Government has frozen employment in the Public Service as it begins its massive reduction in staff numbers. Before the election the numbers of jobs advertised each week ran into the hundreds.

But if you look closely on the link provided there is one job being advertised. The Department of Human Services is advertising for those seeking irregular or intermittent employment, with the closing date 19/12/2013. The job was first posted 20/11/2013.

I followed it up. They are Centrelink jobs.

Why is Centrelink the only department after staff? Is the Government expecting an increase in the number of people requiring their services? Is the Government, more to the point, expecting a jump in the number of unemployed people?

It appears that way. It is also of their own making.


Let the politicising begin

Let me begin by quoting Part 3, section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999 which has the heading APS Values (APS = Australian Public Service):

Committed to service

(1)  The APS is professional, objective, innovative and efficient, and works collaboratively to achieve the best results for the Australian community and the Government.


(2)  The APS demonstrates leadership, is trustworthy, and acts with integrity, in all that it does.


(3)  The APS respects all people, including their rights and their heritage.


(4)  The APS is open and accountable to the Australian community under the law and within the framework of Ministerial responsibility.


(5)  The APS is apolitical and provides the Government with advice that is frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence.

Number 5 is the interesting one: the APS is apolitical. For those unfamiliar with the term, our friends at Wikipedia provide a succinct explanation:

Being apolitical can also refer to situations in which people take an unbiased position in regard to political matters. The Collins Dictionary defines apolitical as “politically neutral; without political attitudes, content, or bias”.

And that is exactly how the Australian Public Service is. And this defines the code of conduct demanded of an employee of the APS. It looks like all that is about to change:

Workers at [the Department of] Industry were told on September 20 – 12 days after their secretary Don Russell was sacked by the Abbott Government on its first day in office –  to quit if they didn’t want to implement the new government’s agenda.

In other words, let the politicising begin.

It’s nothing new from a Coalition Government. From the time John Howard won office in 1996 one of his first actions was to turn the Public Service into a political ally. (Read more here about his swift move and a more recent reflection of it here). But Howard’s response was more transparent; openly replacing department heads with ones that could best be described as Howard loyalists. The latest move since Abbott took office lacks transparency. It’s sneaky. It goes against the grain of the Act.

What the hell is going on? The Public Service is apolitical. Let’s keep it that way. We don’t want the Public Service turned into an arm of the Liberal Party.

But the Government obviously has other ideas.

I’ll be claming that too

Attorney-General George Brandis and Agriculture Minister Senator Barnaby Joyce have agreed to repay travel expenses they had claimed to attend the wedding of Sydney radio shock jock Michael Smith two years ago.

Despite it being part of “a work day” pleaded Barnaby, he parted with his money. Yes apparently:

The wedding, Mr Joyce argued, was ”a work day like any other”.

”They’re all private functions at which you spend most of the time talking about politics,” he said.

Well I’m delighted to learn this. It encourages me to submit a back-log of claims for expenses I incurred – planned or unplanned – talking about former my work in the Public Service. At the Executive level I was expected to be on call 24 hours a day, even if I was attending a private function.

Without the benefit of a strapped on GPS tracker to retrace all of my movements over the last umpteen years I’m limited to recall only a few stand-out events from which to launch a claim. Take, for example, the time I drove down to Joe’s Fish ‘n’ Chip shop before Christmas. I hadn’t been to Joe’s for a while so he was eager for a chat. Here’s where the door opened for me: he asked me about my job. I conveniently recall the two of us engaged in discussion about how much of a lousy day I’d had while the chips were cooking. I’m putting in a claim for the fuel costs to run down to Joe’s. It was just another work day like any other. Not a problem. I’ll get that one.

And how about the time I attended a subordinate’s wedding. We weren’t that close so I’m guessing I was only invited because I was his boss. Naturally, father of the groom wanted to chat to me about young Rodney’s work. It’s hard to escape from at times. Bugger it, I’m putting in a claim.

Let’s not be trivial. I could go in for the kill here.

Carol and I spent some time in America last year and we were fortunate to meet many great locals. You know how it is when you meet anybody new . . . they ask what line of work you’re in. And those pesky Americans, of course, wanted to know everything about the Australian Public Service. Work, work work. That’s all I ever spoke about. The airfare wasn’t cheap, by the way, so I demand to be reimbursed. Sure, I was not over there performing official duties on a work day, but it was a work day for those poor sods back home so I see a loophole here. After all, I was meant to be on call 24 hours a day. Surely we can’t let a trivial thing like being out of the country as a stumbling block to my claim?

I think I might just get away with it . . . especially if people are idiots. Well, in my opinion Barnaby seems to think everyone is.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

An apolitical observation

I generally don’t believe anything that comes out of the mouths of members of the Coalition so I haven’t given much credence to whatever they say. But this latest babble of bullshit has stirred me:

The federal opposition has accused Labor of ordering public servants to create political material to attack the Coalition.

Amid business calls for public servants to be allowed to do their jobs, opposition treasury secretary Joe Hockey has lodged an official complaint alleging “potential political interference” in the public service by Treasurer Wayne Swan’s office.

Tony Abbott said it was not the number of advisers that was the problem, but the way in which they were used by the government.

The Opposition Leader said the Coalition would review the entire bureaucracy but “I think it’s the misuse to which political staffers have been put, with dirt units and so on, rather than the fact that there are political staffers as such”.

As a former Federal Public Servant may I protest that this is a load of absolute and utter rubbish? It’s clearly just another fabricated  “look over there” moment to deflect media and public attention away from a very damaged Tony Abbott.

But if they want to pick on the Public Service with bizarre claims then I take the liberty to throw back a few observations of my own.

I worked as a Public Servant under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard Governments. As a Public Servant I was apolitical, working for the government of the day while casting aside my own political preferences and I performed diligently and loyally to all three. Of those three governments it could be considered that the behaviour of several Howard Ministers only was questionable. I am not at liberty to expand on this.

However, I am at liberty to provide my observations, whether they be correct or not. Neither might they agree with the observations of other Public Servants. But here they are:

  • I didn’t consider that John Howard or Joe Hockey were honest politicians
  • Tony Abbott was very unpopular with a former department due to his alleged nastiness
  • Kevin Rudd drove people fairly hard
  • The Liberals when in government appeared to politicise the Public Service
  • There were rumours that members of the Howard Government attempted to obtain information off public servants for political advantage
  • The Rudd Government acted far more professionally than the Howard Government
  • Julia Gillard was very popular and respected by her departments
  • Many of Howard’s policies in the employment area did not appear to be working
  • The Labor Governments were more concerned with helping society’s needy
  • The Labor Governments had more of a focus on education and job training than Howard’s
  • I did not consider Joe Hockey a competent Minister
  • Labor made more cuts to the Public Service than Howard
  • There appeared to be a greater emphasis from the Howard Government on misleading the electorate
  • The Howard Government did not appear genuinely concerned with the plight of minority groups, in particular Indigenous Australians

What have you good people observed from the boundary line?

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I would have liked to have done something else

In my working life I only had three jobs that lasted more than five years; a cabinet-maker, a finance manager, and a public servant. Most of them sucked, although the last two I mentioned were very enjoyable.

However, each one was a job and not a career. I would have liked to have done something else. Something I had a real passion for and one that I could have spent my whole working life devoted to.

If I could start all over again there are a few that would fall into that category and I would pursue a career in them relentlessly.

Given the chance, I’d be an astronomer. I studied it for a year at university but the first six months were the most boring of my life. We were drilled with small structures of the universe; things like photons, bosons and muons. They are not exciting, only a fraction more exciting than the equations a half a metre long that we had to damage our brains on. I was more interested in the large structures of the universe; planets, galaxies and anything that might dwell in them.

I threw in the towel.

Second choice would be a paleontologist. Yep, digging up old bones tracing the evolution of we humans or the odd dinosaur. I’m very interested in ‘things’ we know little about and would loved to be involved in new discoveries.

For that reason I could easily take a career in Egyptology or archaeology. Not much work in Australia for the former and little of interest in the latter unless it’s Aboriginal archaeology. I knew a girl who studied archaeology and ended up in a career researching Australian verandah designs in the 19th century. I guess when there’s nothing else around you take anything.

Which is what I’ve done all my life.

Would you do anything different given the miracle of another chance?

The Fool on the Hill (part 2)

In my last post I endeavoured to point out how much of a fool Tony Abbott is when he ‘tries’ to talk about climate change. His idiocy is not confined to that subject alone and in this post I will focus on another subject he completely stuffs up on: Women.

As a member of the male gender he could be forgiven for his ignorance. After all, what man does have a good grasp of this delicate yet complex subject? 😉

But he does live with a household of them and as a modern day politician he should at least make an effort to be aware that the modern day woman is a phenomena, not a relic. Nor an object.

The circus clown with the big ears had the audience in raptures a year or so back with his comment that women should stay home and iron, or something to that effect.  Although the laughter has died down, the image he painted has not. It is an image that was all too familiar in this country: the barefoot and pregnant housewife.

He has never retracted that comment, which suggests he still carries that ideology. This is what I want to focus on in this post on. But unlike the last post where I’d trawled the internet for some of the zillions of examples of his stupidity, here I want to hone in on the stupidity of his ideology and how out of touch it is with reality.

Mr Abbott, you are a fool if you think the modern day woman wants to stay home and iron, and a bigger fool for saying it. Women should not be stereotyped, especially into the role model you expect of them. Instead of barking at everybody how the carbon price is going to destroy the universe, try grasping something in the real world. Here’s a start: woman don’t want to stay home and iron. They want to work. They want jobs and careers. They want what their mothers fought for. It’s been that way for 40 years. Only a fool doesn’t know that.

I’ll give you a history lesson on how they have fought for their rights to work in an environment and society that wanted to exclude them. That wanted them to stay home and iron.

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