Sunday, March 20, 2011

Incoming NSW Government Tasks

Sometime next Saturday, 26-March, many expect there will be a new NSW Government, one led by Barry O’Farrell of the Liberal Party. the National Party will his Coalition partners in government. As a voter, I have a list of things that will need his urgent attention. These tasks will help prevent members of his government behaving in ways about which he, the media, and many voters have been critical.  I believe that whoever wins government, Barry O’Farrell, or Labor’s Kristina Keneally must:

Kristina Keneally

    Barry O'Farrell
  1. Remove Ministerial discretion in planning matters. Current legislation gives the Planning Minister the opportunity for personal discretion, and provides an atmosphere, and fosters a culture where, decisions that would otherwise be deemed unethical or corrupt are allowed; even encouraged, by relationships with other politicians, lobbyists, and developers. Witness, for example, the spate of approvals given by Tony Kelly in the day before the government went into caretaker mode. Most of those decisions concerned the development at Barangaroo, to the benefit of Lend Lease. One of those allows Lend Lease to develop a car park without having to remove toxic chemicals from the ground. Legal? Aapparently. Ethical? ?
  2. Ensure ethical standards. All other sections of the “public service” are bound by ethical standards and Codes of Conduct, but apparently, politicians are not. The current Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ethics is toothless. It can do nothing to reprimand, nor take any action against, any MP who acts unethically.  Indeed, there appears to be no Code of Conduct which explicitly outlines expected and prohibited behaviours of Parliamentarians. That means, provided a NSW Parliamentarian does nothing illegal, they cannot be found to be corrupt, regardless of how unethical their conduct might be perceived.
  3. Restore political neutrality to the Public Service Senior Executive Service. The current SES has a number of people, including Directors-General, whose appointments are perceived as tainted by political connections. Not all, but some of them. It is likely their contracts will be either terminated, or not renewed. The incoming Premier must act ethically,and disallow the practice that has politicised the public service, solely to give Ministers a highly-paid “Yes, Minister” underling. Any political appointments hinder free, but honest advice, and degrade our democracy.
  4. Restore the esteem of our social infrastructure. Public Schools, Public Hospitals, Public transport, TAFE, Community Services all need to be promoted, and seen to be valued by Government. Only then will the public’s esteem grow.
  5. Restore Standards of Question Time Behaviour. People call our Parliament “the Bear Pit”. Many don’t respect Parliament, nor the politicians that give it the bad name. Enough said.
  6. Retain Public Assets in Public hands.  Public School land is not, for example, an asset to be sold to developers, or to private schools. It would be sensible, and appropriate, for example, to include a caveat excluding public school land sold to private entities being used for educational purposes.  (see also Points 1, 2 and 4 above)
If all the above sounds fine, but terribly idealistic, even naive, then think about this:
“If you don’t aim to hit the bullseye, you’ve got no chance”

Let’s annoy and harangue our politicians and leaders till they do what the ought to do.