Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Things they could fix in Canberra #3

This one is going to be hard to address or fix in Canberra: the public service mentality.

I've been thinking about this one for a long time and how to describe it. Basically the whole city is fuelled by the rest of Australia through tax dollars. Canberra makes nothing but rules for Australia. It does not produce any goods, it does not have to compete on the market, and it does not have to be nice to people. It tells people what they should do and how they should behave, and the politicians and public servants that work here behave accordingly.

I understand that this is a very broad brush to paint with, and I'm not saying it applies to everyone in the public service - just the majority of them. It's worse at the high level. The executives for every government department have fought hard to get up to their perches. They do not want to let go of their salaries or their benefits. They will give a helping hand to their friends and family. Once people start working for the public service as permanents, they stop thinking of their roles as a privilege, but more as a right. This concept also flows out through their personalities - you get a feeling after a while that the whole town is full of people going "what's in it for me?"

Working for the public is usually a thankless task - much like being a police officer. I know it's a calling I could not answer. The police officer puts themselves in physical danger, often for strangers, and not because it is a high paying or glamorous role. There are police officers that join to be police officers, and there are police officers that have joined because they cannot get another job, or they want to exploit the role for its benefits. Some of the police officers that currently exploit the benefits, could have started with the best intentions of wanting to assist the public. I'm sure most public servants joined the public service in an attempt "to do some good" - but it appears a group of them have forgotten about that - and that mentality is filtering through this government bureaucracy powered town.


What can be done to fix this?

There is no simple fix. The obvious one I can think of is to shut Canberra down and to re-allocate all the government department duties to the other major capital cities. Canberra's location has failed with modern technology. One of the reasons it was located where it was, was in the day, missiles from ships could not be launched and reached Canberra - that was the early 1900s. In 2009, armchair generals can press buttons from their computers and send enough armaments to wipe out Canberra many times over. The reason for it to exist as a planned inland city has been nullified with the advancement of technology.

I look forward to any other better ideas...

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