Evidence of the New Divide

So the Queensland ALP and media go in hard on Premier Newman over token public sector cuts. Net result: zero. Two party preferred remains around 60-40.

That the Qld LNP have held their vote in the face of such an attack augurs well.

Token cuts they have been too. As Judith Sloan points out regarding Health cuts, they are in the one-two percent zone. These will cause distracting conflict and achieve little. Despite the noises on public sector spending the Qld and NSW governments are gross underachievers.

No politician will say it, so I will. Every level of government in this country can and should lose 30% of its back office staff. Frontline staff would be a different question, and be dependent on real process change and a cascade of decision making to that frontline.

This isn’t a number pulled from nowhere. It’s a repeated finding in our business. Indeed, occasionally we find twice that. Yes, 60% staff savings through the application of basic management and supervisory structures.

And that assumes government maintains the same sense of priorities that requires the same outputs. It shouldn’t. Serious management and serious priorities and we could literally halve the size of our public sector payroll.

That would free up real money to fund – responsibly for a change – the sort of respite care and disability support services we need. You know, for those disadvantaged people the Left talks about but sacrifices to featherbedding.

The New Divide

There is a new social divide. It’s a vertical divide that straddles traditional class lines and sees the public sector and comfy corporate insiders against the rest: the tradies, the successful small business, the retail businesses, the contractors, the part timers, employees in cyclically-exposed businesses, the unemployed, people with disability…

What the public sector and big corporates have in common is that they spend other people’s money. Gilded offices refitted too frequently; ridiculous executive salaries; expense accounts for ordinary staff, not sales people; pointless offsites and travel; all things no small business, no casual employee can or would afford.

There’s something very wrong when senior public servants are on $200-350,000, and when a single corporate executive can make up 10% of a division’s wages bill, and when an entire industry (investment banking) has to report a Management Expense Ratio because they’ve ripped off shareholders so egregiously for decades.

That the ALP and Greens align so closely with big government both philosophically and through ties with PS unions is to be expected. That they also align with rigid work styles that only fit a corporate structure is ridiculous. That they support and engage with crony capital is shameful.

All that will hurt both the ALP and Greens as this divide becomes stronger.

People know we are in for hard times. People know the Feds are out of money and the States are close to it. People also know how unproductive the public sector is overall – even if everyone respects the efforts of the individuals they engage with.

And what’s even better, half the public sector agree. We get thanked by ordinary public sector workers who are happy to see the dead wood go.

The ALP think they are onto a winner by demonising necessary reforms to public sector management. There may be some short term benefit, the lack of it in Qld notwithstanding.

But they are hitching themselves to the wrong horse. They are making themselves a party of privilege, a conservative party protecting a guild of public sector unionists.

The electorate has moved on from that. Left leaning Wisconsin’s vote to keep Governor Walker showed it has moved on in the US. The Qld LNP’s polling shows it has moved on in Australia.

Time for the ALP to move on as well.


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