'Dad's Army' fills top jobs

by Chris Griffith
Published 24 March 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


The Borbidge Government yesterday was accused of recruiting "a dad's army" of fully retired and superannuated public servants to fill the state's top director-general positions.

Opposition leader Peter Beattie said six of the government's 14 new acting director-generals had previously collected around $1 million each in redundancy, retirement, and superannuation benefits after leaving the state public service.

Mr Beattie said that despite being fully paid out, the six were now out of retirement -- and back earning lucrative salaries. In one case, a new director-general had received a six-figure golden handshake just seven months ago, he said.

The six new director-generals who had received payout were Peter Ellis (Premier's Department, previously retired 1993), Kevin Wolfe (Office of Public Service, previously retired 1990), Anthony Krimmer (Economic and Trade Development, previously retired c. 1991), Robert Day (Mines and Energy, previously retired August 1995), Kevin Davies (Public Works and Housing, previously retired 1990), and Richard Wharton (Main Roads, previously retired 1994).

The Opposition also released an updated list of senior public servants targeted by the government.

Director-generals Jacki Byrne (Family Services), Ross Willims (Minerals and Energy), and Glyn Davis (Office of Cabinet) had been dismissed and had ceased employment. Noel Dawson and Bob Smith (Primary Industries) and Julian Foley(Family Services) had accepted packages and left.

Seven director-generals had received a letter of notice of termination, and were on four weeks paid compulsory leave. They were Craig Emerson (formerly Environment), Leo Keliher (Emergency Services), Geoff Stevenson (Administrative Services), Jane Macdonnell (Justice), Barry Smith (Lands), Bob Marshman (Employment), and Gerard Bradley (Treasury).

Another five public servants had taken compulsory paid leave and had been dismissed from their currents posts. Their public service futures were unknown. They were Brian Head (PSMC), Michael Moodie (Health), Ross Rolfe (Environment), Jim Varghese (Primary Industries), and Garry Hannigan (Family Services).

The Opposition's spokesperson on public sector matters, Anna Bligh, said the jobs of four other PSMC senior officers were in jeopardy, as were the futures of at least another three officers in the Department of Minerals and Energy. Another three senior public servants in the Department of Family Services had been offered early retirement.

In another development, former Family Services director-general Jacki Byrne said she would now definitely challenge her sacking before the Anti-Discrimination Commission. Ms Byrne said Premier Rob Borbidge's statement that she had been sacked because of her affiliation with the ALP would be the ground for her challenge to be lodged early this week.

But Mr Borbidge yesterday attacked Labor for its hypocrisy on public service appointments.

"It is extraordinary after its disgraceful record of late 1989 and 1990 that the ALP has the gall to attack the manner in which the Coalition is approaching the senior levels of the public service," he said. "A host of prominent Labor Government bureaucrats, particularly from its transition to government team who went on to wreak havoc in the Queensland public sector were initially appointed in acting positions."

Mr Borbidge said not only did Labor "humiliate, hound, and harass" career public servants out of their jobs, they are engaged in "disgraceful efforts" to deny them their entitlements.

"By contrast only the handful of bureaucrats who have received letters of termination under this government are being treated respectfully and properly, and without any of the rancour that the Labor Party displayed."

He said all positions currently filled by acting appointees would be advertised -- if they had not been advertised already.

Queensland political commentator Associate Professor Ross Fitzgerald said the growing practice of new governments conducting purges showed there was a desperate need for debate on exactly what kind of public service Australians wanted.

He said both sides of politics had been hypocritical on the issue of new appointments. In opposition, parties accused their opponents of cronyism yet in government, they readily practiced cronyism themselves.

Mr Beattie said the Borbidge government should appoint its long-time trusted advisers as personal ministerial staff, not public servants.

He said Mr Borbidge should justify individually the sacking of each public servant, and warned that a future Labor government would sack public servants improperly appointed by the current government.

"They are turning the public service into the most political in Australia and they are breaking all the traditions of the British system," he said.