This just in: government caught using different standard for itself

Very amusing story from the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Howard Government broke its own workplace laws when it ordered public sector managers to deny workers access to leave to take part in a national protest against the new industrial relations legislation, the Federal Court has found.

It was followed by a secondary point:

The court also found that top managers in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, who are supposed to be impartial public servants, tried to protect the political interests of the Government.

Which is, essentially, to say that obvious things are obvious.

According to evidence presented during the case, on November 9, 2005, two top departmental officials, Michael Maynard and Tulip Chaudhury, advised all Federal Government agencies to deny leave to staff if they wanted to use it to attend the protest scheduled for November 15.

The Community and Public Sector Union, which covers federal employees, had explicitly advised its members not to take sick leave or walk off the job but to use their own holiday leave or flexitime if they wanted to attend the protest.

One department official, Jeremy O’Sullivan, sought a legal opinion on the Maynard-Chaudhury advice and also consulted the office of then Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews. The department feared political embarrassment for the Government if it tried to enforce a ban on its own staff.

Really, they feared political embarassment? I like the fact that (a) such a fear should pretty come naturally to a child, let alone someone with the sort of responsibilities these people have, and (b) frankly, I would rather our government executives fear things like drifting into incivility and authoritarianism than political embarassment.

It is a trend all too common, these days, sweeping across everything from industrial relations to homeland security to infrastructure maintenance. We, by and large, have lost our governments. Whatever the collective noun for politicians should be, it should not be “government”. Unfortunately, we are managed by people in politics, not government.


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