The government attempts yet again to foster terror in the public service.

Scott Morrison gave a very long speech that said very little, but what it did say seemed management speak contradictory.

I expect my Ministers to be in the center driving policy agendas for their agencies and departments. And so I’ve selected and tasked my Ministers top set and drive the agenda of the Government. I believe the public have a similar expectation of my Ministers as well….

ultimately it is the Minister who must decide, whether approve or not approve, to provide comment, feedback, as they appreciate, because ultimately it is the Minister who will be held accountable by the public. And that’s how it should be….

I have always believed that, guided by clear direction from Ministers, the public service is at its best when it is getting on with the job of delivering the services Australians rely on and ensuring Governments can implement the policies they have been elected to deliver for the Australian people….

Good government is about receiving excellent policy advice. … It’s about telling Governments how things can be done, not just the risks of doing them, or saying why they shouldn’t be done. The public service is meant to be an enabler of Government policy not an obstacle….

There does not seem to be any provision in these comments for a minister to find out if the Government’s policies are actually having their intended effects.

It seems as if, when it is found the policies are not working, then it must be because the departments are resisting them. Any attempts to tell the minister otherwise are clearly examples of slacking off, and disrespect by, the people responsible for making them work.

In other words, Mr. Morrison appears to assume that his government must always be right, with complete knowledge of how social, ecological and other systems really work, in advance. Something the less managerial of us, might think was a little difficult.

Mr. Morrison is said to be saying that governments are responsive to the bottom end of society, as well as the top end.

There is strong evidence that the “trust deficit” that has afflicted many Western democracies over recent years stems in part from a perception that politics is very responsive to those at the top and those at the bottom, but not so much to those in the middle.

I would like to know where this response to the bottom end manifests. It is not immediately clear to me at least, other than in the sense of harassing them, say by Robo-debt calls. Or is this an indication that Mr. Morrison is immune to hearing from people at the bottom to begin with, and does not know it?

It will also be interesting to see if the government does ignore the highly promoted and resourced interests of the IPA or the Murdoch Empire. I suspect those people are seen as representatives of the supposedly “quiet Australians” we are supposed to take notice of. Their ‘representative’ nature is quite probably emphasised by the fact that they agree with the government, or encourage it to go further on its way.

Quite how being immune to, or suppressing, accurate feedback is supposed to restore trust in the public sector, I’m not sure.