Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What are public servants for?

James Whelan from the Centre for Policy Development has just written a report on the public sector, called The State of the Australian Public Service: An Alternative Report.

Larvatus Prodeo has a post about it. Several hours after posting, there's one comment. Which rather makes me think people are considerably less fired up about the role of the public service than they are about a wide, wide range of other issues.

Here are some reasons why this might be the case.
  • Public servants are often the ones doing the work that we loathe the government for doing. It's hard to care about people you think are acting wrongly.
  • We take all the good things the public service do for granted because we are utterly used to them being provided with a minimum of fuss (unless we are poor in which case see the point above and imagine dealing with Centrelink on a bad day).
  • Stereotypes about public servants say that we are overpaid, lazy bludgers ripping off the taxpayer*, so it's hard to care about us as people, or acknowledge the work we do.
Larvatus Prodeo asks the question, what are public servants for? I'm looking forward to thinking about that more, but I'm afraid I'm not so clear on the answer. I fear I know quite a bit about what I do, but much less about why and what overall I should be achieving.

I also saw, today, an art work from 2003 that talked about four different models of disability. I know I don't want the public service to be 'for' the administrative model, for people with disability or for anyone else for that matter.

*Incidentally, I love how there is only one taxpayer in some of these discussions. She must be righteously pissed off, I reckon.

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