No wonder Jim Belshaw is well informed!

25 Sep

Jim’s Personal Reflections today reveal much more of his background.

…I joined the Commonwealth Public Service as an Administrative Trainee in 1967 before moving to the Commonwealth Treasury at the start of 68 and then to the Department of Industry and Commerce as a second division officer in 1980, so by the time of the first Hawke Government I had worked at increasing levels of seniority under five Prime Ministers: Holt (briefly), Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam and Fraser…

Looking back, the wheels started to come off in 1986.

The reasons for this were complex and deserve a different discussion. But in summary, and as I see it, the introduction of new managerialist approaches across the service borrowed from the private sector centralised power, reducing the freedom of other senior staff to put forward new ideas without more complex clearance procedures. The central coordinating agencies, and especially Treasury and Finance, who had lost power when the Hawke Government first came in and who had different reform agendas, started re-asserting control, reducing access to new ideas. The Government itself lost its sense of freshness. Consensus disappeared as a working concept.

By the time I resigned in mid 1987 the writing was on the wall. Important new initiatives such as the Dawkins Training Reform Agenda were still to come built on the previous cooperative model, but the last major national manifestation of the Deakinite social contract was dead. Individualism was replacing collectivism as the national model…

I was never myself a candidate for preselection for the National Party, as Jim was at one time, nor have I been so close to government, but I am fascinated to see the convergence in our views about what has been happening in this country for the past decade and more. Do read what Jim has to say.

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One response to “No wonder Jim Belshaw is well informed!

  1. Jim Belshaw

    September 25, 2006 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for this, Neil. I have been incredibly blessed in my experiences, although in trying to do too much I have at times spread myself far to thinly.

    The convergence of views is indeed interesting.

    Jumping forward to a point that I was going to come to somewhat later, one of the answers to the feeling of disconnect that David feels and that I have been working my own way through lies in the power of the new technology to break the sense of isolation, to easily access new ideas and information, to re-assert the power of the individual at a time when the system seems so strong, test one’s own personal and professional thinking against international benchmarks.

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