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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Want to get ahead?

Former public servant, author and whistle-blower Tony Kevin tells Crikey about the new rules of the game at government departments under the Howard regime:

"We should understand the rules of the government service game – the system protects its own as long as they protect the system. That is the operating rule now, for if anyone is penalised now for professional misconduct or out of political expediency, those remaining are at greater risk because an embittered person could leak. So no-one is jettisoned, as long as they all stick to the rules of no unauthorised public comment that could even remotely be construed as expressing regrets or questioning the rules.

"What happens to those kinds of people – even the mildest of dissidents – is instructive in itself – but that is another story.

"This is how the Soviet bureaucracy worked. It is not the way the Westminster system worked or was ever supposed to work – we were supposed to have checks and balances. But we no longer have that system. We have a Soviet-style nomenclature, where the roles of politicians and administrators are indistinguishable, and blind loyalty is the performance criterion that matters above all else."


Blogger joe2 said...

The one party state established under the guise of democracy.

Farmer gets a good job in Indonesia. Rove a position on American High Court?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 6:39:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Farmer may well get the gig in Indo, but he won't be loved by the locals, that's for sure. They know how Australia slammed our northern neighbour's supposed slackness with refugees...
Our democracy falters again...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:03:00 pm  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

The AFP has been facilitating 'disruption' operations in Indonesia, at least since Tampa. This is something that Farmer no doubt either directly or indirectly was involved in. The Indonesians know this, and it would add to their distaste for him. According to Tony Kevin in 'A Certain Maritime Incident - the Sinking of Siev X', the AFP (or its agents) would even deal directly with local Indonesian police or officials outside their formal capacities. Viz, use a proxy like a known racketeer to bribe police who would herd up asylum seekers into sabotaged vessels, rigged to sink. The tactic was an astounding success. Hardly any asylum seeker dares travel towards Australia by boat. I know it sounds far fetched, but worth reading Kevin's book for further details.

Still, Indonesia needs Australia. They are eager to wash their hands of Timor's blood and become a model Muslim/Asian republic again (so they can continue to get military and economic aid). You know, the type of neoliberal paradise that arouses Tom Friedman. So, in macro terms, I don't think Farmer will have much of an impact. Politics is a cynical game.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 8:19:00 pm  
Blogger paul said...

Tony Kevin is out of his tiny mind. The public service has always been politicised, never moreso than under Hawke/Keating, when I had the misfortune to eke out a dull existence in its bowels. People don't leak because it's a breach of the Crimes Act, and continues to be after they have quit/retired or been sacked.
The current government has been rather easy-going with most of the ratbags who've gone public, mainly because most of what they come out with is the sort of paranoid fantasies that qualified them for "early retirement" in the first place.
An acquintance of mine leaked some factual information about an individual who had been shot by the Indonesian military and was getting a snow job in the media, and was diskmissed, charged, fined and copped a six month suspended sentence.
If any of these "reliable sources" came out with anything authentic, the AFP would be on them like the ABC on a Howard scandal. BTW- Hawke was the one who brought in outside appointments to the SES and 1st division, and stocked same with party hacks and apparatchiks- most of whom are the current crop of disgruntled former senior staffers. Most actual leaks come from ministers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 8:23:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Paul, you're right that the politisation of the public service started well before Howard. Keating and Hawke, indeed.
There is though a difference these days. Nobody gets fired or is accountable because the ministers themselves are seemingly Teflon-proof.
I've read A Certain Maritime Incident and it poses some pretty bloody disturbing questions. To be answered one day, though unlikely under a Labor or Liberal govt...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:42:00 pm  

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