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Clive Palmer was totally opposed to the government’s ‘'direct action’‘ climate policy only a few months ago. Now he’s voting for it. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott government gets some wins – and gives the odd hostage to the future

In a move that channels John Howard, Tony Abbott has put changing the GST on the political agenda, just over a year after assuring the public it would not be altered, “full stop, end of story”. In the…
In the 27 years since the Hawke government came up with a public service efficiency dividend, the evidence has mounted against it. National Archives of Australia

Getting more bang for public bucks: is the ‘efficiency dividend’ efficient?

Every now and again in public policy debates a consensus emerges on some particular point among policymakers, stakeholders and commentators. These moments are distressingly rare. It is even more distressing…
Australia’s public service broadly lacks in a number of key areas that are necessary for the Abbott government’s vision of a small government to become a reality. AAP/Alan Porritt

What skills does a ‘smaller’ government need?

The 2014-15 federal budget, released by treasurer Joe Hockey earlier this week, set out a vision of government that is leaner, meaner and more efficient. It built on the Coalition’s “Smaller Government…
Successive governments of both sides have failed to answer the fundamental questions of what it is that government should actually do and how it should go about doing it. AAP/Lukas Coch

Federal budget 2014: the road to a lean, mean government

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first federal budget set out a vision of a smaller, less intrusive role for government. The sentiment can hardly be a surprise; prime minister Tony Abbott has long championed the…
Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal budget 2014: political experts react

The Abbott government is hoping an A$11.6 billion infrastructure spending package, combined with a $20 billion medical research fund, will help soften the blow of widespread tightening of health and welfare…
A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. Flickr/GreensMPs

Environmental job cuts risk a repeat of Gladstone failures

A long-awaited report on environmental failures at the biggest port along the Great Barrier Reef coastline and today’s federal budget may not seem connected – but if you read the report, it’s clear just…
The Commission of Audit, led by Tony Shepherd, has recommended radical changes to the way we do government in Australia. AAP/Lukas Coch

We need a leaner, meaner public service: Commission of Audit

The Commission of Audit’s report, released yesterday, sets out a radical blueprint for the role of government, the scope of its activities and how it goes about getting things done. For the most part there…
A 2% rise next year instead? You have my word. Rui Vieira/PA

Hard Evidence: does the public sector pay better?

The government’s decision to reject the recommended 1% rise in NHS salaries has been met with “contempt” by the unions. The issue of public sector pay has become highly contentious, with each side arguing…
Lack of information and advice on climate change isn’t the problem. Steve Easterbrook

Government doesn’t need climate bodies: it needs commitment

In closing the Climate Commission, and introducing legislation to abolish the Climate Change Authority, the government has said it can instead rely on information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology…
Is Australia’s public sector delivering the right levels of ‘bang’ in return for our ‘bucks’? AAP/Tracey Nearmy

How efficient is Australia’s public sector? Short answer: very

How efficient is Australia’s public sector? This question is difficult to answer with precision, but important to all of us. After all, this is our money being spent on us and the things we care about…
Tony Abbott’s focus on Asia early in his term in office signifies that the so-called ‘Asian century’ - and Australia’s role in it - is far from over. EPA/Mast Irham

Abbott government may have new rhetoric, but it’s still the ‘Asian century’

It is barely a decade old, but some pundits are already declaring the end of the “Asian century”. The Abbott government appeared ready to bury it after the recent archiving of the Gillard government’s…
In one of his first acts in office, prime minister Tony Abbott axed three department heads, while treasury secretary Martin Parkinson (pictured) will depart next year. AAP/Saeed Khan

Abbott and the public service: where now on department heads?

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision to sack three departmental secretaries within hours of his swearing-in earlier this week has not attracted the same shock John Howard’s decision to sack six secretaries…
The Coalition government’s attitude towards the public service is unclear beyond its promise to cut 12,000 jobs. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Transition to government: what now for the public service?

Commonwealth public servants will have arrived at their offices this morning feeling a mix of relief and trepidation. Relief because the disorder and uncertainty of serving a divided and besieged minority…
Does Labor’s most recent attack ad pass the truth test? Labor Party

FactCheck: Labor’s ‘If Abbott wins, you lose’ attack ad

Election FactCheck is checking key claims in political advertisements. Here we look at the “If Tony Abbott Wins, You Lose” ad from Labor. Families will lose the Schoolkids Bonus The Coalition has made…
What is life like inside the office of MPs who hold the balance of power, such as retiring independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor? AAP/Alan Porritt

The retiring independents: looking inside the ‘balance of power’

With the end of each parliament there inevitably comes a series of announcements that particular parliamentarians will not be contesting the next election. Usually, these decisions are justified by the…
Happy with out-of-date outfits, not so happy about out-of-date salaries. Julien Behal/PA

Osborne’s attack on public servants won’t work

George Osborne’s populist attack on public sector salaries made for just the headlines he wanted. He promised to end “automatic progression pay” in the civil service by 2015-16, and to work towards ending…
The role of politicians and public servants are blurred in countries such as China, which announced its new leadership last week. EPA/Adrian Bradshaw

Looking to Asia to reform Australia’s public service

What will the Asian Century mean for public administration in Australia? This probably isn’t the first question that occurs to people pondering the implications of shifting economic and political power…

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