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New Accountabilities, New Challenges

New Accountabilities, New Challenges

John Wanna
Evert A. Lindquist
Penelope Marshall
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    New Accountabilities, New Challenges
    Book Description:

    This important and challenging volume of essays draws on insights from leading academics and public servants from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere. It provides an excellent series of critiques of both the systemic accountabilities and the policy processes of government by drawing on meticulously researched, topical and real-world case studies of governance. Its contribution to the understanding of the applied processes of government in this way is exemplary. Topics covered include: restoring trust in government, parliamentary scrutiny of the APS, administrative law and FOI, budgetary reforms, implementation issues, competition policy, indigenous administration, collaboration with the NGO sector, educational reforms and the changes to the Auditor- General’s mandate.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-08-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    John Wanna

    This present collection of essays and research reports by 14 academic commentators and senior practitioners brings together a diverse set of contributors unified in the belief that reform initiatives are imperative for better government and public policy. All these contributions have connections with ANZSOG — the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, established in 2002–03 as an innovative collaboration between the Australian and New Zealand governments and a range of prestigious universities across both countries. Some of the essays were commissioned research papers by experts in the field on topics of multi-jurisdictional concern, others were research papers in...

  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. 1. Introduction — Embracing New Accountabilities, Confronting New Challenges: Canvassing options for next generation improvements
    (pp. 1-14)
    John Wanna

    For several decades now Australian governments have been increasingly active in policy-making across traditional as well as new policy sectors, yet often remain ineffective in dealing with some of the more intransigent social and economic problems our nation faces. Governments seem unable to solve or mitigate the inherent problems in many specific areas of policy responsibility, such as child welfare and protection; dignified aged care (especially for the frail and aged); dealing with Indigenous well-being and closing the gap between Indigenous health indicators and those of the wider community; the management of mental health problems and care of those afflicted;...

  7. Part I. Systemic Accountabilities

    • 2. Restoring Trust in Government
      (pp. 17-28)
      Chris Eccles

      The topic of my chapter, restoring trust in government, has universal application to public administration and is central to many of the fundamental challenges facing government and its institutions. Accordingly, I want to address a number of key areas where we, as public servants, have the ability to both influence and initiate the process of restoring trust in government, more particularly, through the way we work with the citizens of New South Wales, a trust in and of the public sector.

      We have all heard phrases such as ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’, and ‘the cheque...

    • 3. Parliamentary Scrutiny of the Australian Public Service
      (pp. 29-78)
      Derek Drinkwater

      After a century of industrialisation and urbanisation, and a commensurate rise in state power, Australia is experiencing ‘a major reconceptualisation of the role of government’ (Nethercote 2003, p. 12). The need for Parliament to address such change had arisen as early as 1950, when Professor Wolfgang Friedmann called for ‘a re-consideration of the problem of parliamentary control’ over the increasingly pervasive activity and influence of governments (Friedmann 1950, p. 27). Ambitious initiatives to this end were introduced in the 1960s, with the past three decades witnessing the growth of a complex ‘web of parliamentary scrutiny’ of all aspects of governance,...

    • 4. Assessing Access to Information in Australia: The impact of freedom of information laws on the scrutiny and operation of the Commonwealth government
      (pp. 79-158)
      Daniel Stewart

      When the first freedom of information (FOI) legislation was introduced in Australia, its basic objectives were said to be ‘simple’ (The Freedom of Information Bill 1978, second reading speech, Senator P. D. Durack, 9 June 1978):¹ to make public the structure, functions and rules applied by government, and entitle members of the public to access government documents unless there are special reasons not to. Over 30 years later, the introduction of the ‘most significant overhaul of theFreedom of Information Act 1982(Cth) (the FOI Act) since its commencement’ referred to the same basic objectives, attempting to ‘deliver more effective...

    • 5. Through a Glass Darkly: The vicissitudes of budgetary reform in Australia
      (pp. 159-188)
      John Wanna

      The budgeting of public resources is supposedly one of the most crucial tools in public governance. Budgets and the associated allocation and management of financial resources are a fundamental source of power to governments — and money invariably lies at the heart of almost all public policy decisions and activities, as Peter Walsh (1995) once argued. It provides governments with their wherewithal, their real authority and the ability to achieve their aims. Ostensibly, budgets allow governments to plan and fund their priorities, to resource existing commitments, to reduce allocations to less preferred activities, or change the tax-benefit trade-off between citizens...

    • 6. Constrained Parliamentarism: Australia and New Zealand compared
      (pp. 189-206)
      Harshan Kumarasingham and John Power

      It has been an eternal quest to limit the powers of the executive. In the ‘new Westminsters’² of the Commonwealth, the Montesquieuan model of separation of powers was theoretically influential and yet practically avoided, as in the UK. Aside from the US and Westminster models, Bruce Ackerman has argued of a third model of democratic governance in the wake of the Second World War: constrained parliamentarism. This model sits between the presidentialist American form of Montesquieu and the parliamentary sovereignty that affords the British executive a near elective dictatorship. Constrained parliamentarism ‘rejects the US separation between executive and legislature and...

  8. Part II. Policy Processes

    • 7. Is Implementation Only About Policy Execution?: Advice for public sector leaders from the literature
      (pp. 209-242)
      Evert Lindquist and John Wanna

      We were asked to undertake a review of the literature on policy implementation, delivering policy reform, and organisation change and to explore the implications for public sector leaders charged with implementing public policy in fluid, often turbulent, environments. The goal was to inform a short, accessible guide for public sector leaders (State Services Authority 2011). The research questions animating that review (with some adaptation) were as follows:

      How is the operating environment of the public sector distinctive with respect to the challenges of implementation?

      How should public sector leaders anticipate the need for policy reform and understand implications for their...

    • 8. National Competition Policy and Cooperative Federalism
      (pp. 243-264)
      Jeffrey Harwood and John Phillimore

      The National Competition Policy (NCP) is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most successful examples of cooperative federalism. Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the Commonwealth, states and territories agreed in 1995 to implement a set of microeconomic reforms focused on removing impediments to equal competition between public and private businesses and creating competitive pricing and regulatory mechanisms for utility services and road transport. In return for the successful implementation of the reform package, the Commonwealth transferred payments to the states and territories. The NCP was subsequently commended as an economic success by the Productivity Commission (2005). However, whether...

    • 9. The Malfunctions of New Public Management: A case study of governance in Indigenous affairs
      (pp. 265-296)
      Ian Marsh

      Indigenous policy presents in acute form a case study of challenges to present public administration practice. Successive governments have promised to reduce extreme disadvantage and to do this in conjunction with affected citizens.² But failures persist. In looking for explanations, Dr Peter Shergold (2006) has not only arraigned governance as a threshold cause but also set a high bar for its practice:

      I am aware that, for some fifteen years as a public administrator, too much of what I have done on behalf of government for the very best of motives has had the very worst of outcomes … In...

    • 10. Australian Sub-National Compacts with the Not-For-Profit Sector: Pathways to cross-sector cooperation
      (pp. 297-342)
      John Butcher

      In this chapter we trace the history of formal policy frameworks for cross-sector cooperation in Australia’s states and territories. Inspired by the original ‘English’ Compact, initiated by the Blair Labour government in 1998, the policy frameworks examined are intended to establish agreed rules of engagement between government (and its instrumentalities) and the not-for-profit (NFP) sector — especially those parts of the sector upon which government has become increasingly reliant for the delivery of public services.

      Compacts represent an express acknowledgement by government of the contributions to social well-being made by civil society actors. They also embody the reciprocity implicit in...

    • 11. Championing Change in a Highly Contested Policy Area: The literacy reforms of David Kemp, 1996–2001
      (pp. 343-368)
      Wendy Jarvie and Trish Mercer

      When John Howard won a landslide victory over Paul Keating in March 1996, his junior Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training was David Kemp.¹ Portrayed by the media as a dry Liberal with conservative economic and social views, Kemp was a well-known political figure. His hands-on experience as a senior adviser in Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministerial office in the late 1970s had been complemented by his time as a politics professor at Monash University, where he published a study of Australian politics which combined a theoretical analysis with his insider knowledge of Australian politics and government (Kemp 1988).


    • 12. Cross-Jurisdictional Performance Audits: Impacts and options for the Australian National Audit Office
      (pp. 369-444)
      Patricia Gerald

      The lack of auditing of Commonwealth transfers to states and territories in Australia has been described as a ‘glaring gap’ in the accountability of Commonwealth spending (Wanna and Podger 2009). Payments to the states and territories amounted to $97 billion in 2011–12, representing 25.7 per cent of total Commonwealth expenditure, a significant source of funding for services provided to Australians including education, health, and Indigenous programs (Australian Government 2012). Some of these transfers are unconditional, but many are conditional, with specific Commonwealth objectives or expected outcomes. In 2011–12, conditional transfers amounted to $49.9 billion (Australian Government 2012). Although...