Australia

I. CHANGING CONTEXT OF GOVERNMENT

Factors in the developmental context, which may be increasing or decreasing in importance:

a) transnationalization of management change

b) imperative to increase gender/women sensitivity

The increasing discontent of many women found expression in the women's liberation movement of the 1970s. Feminist activism put women on the political agenda, where they have remained ever since. Australia now has equal opportunity legislation, adult minimum wages for women, equal pay, affirmative action policies, and no-fault divorce.

c) groups in society with needs and demands

The gross disadvantage suffered by aboriginal people, evident in a range of social indicators and perhaps best summed up in life-expectancy rates 20 years below those of white Australians, demonstrates that relatively few Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have been enabled to take advantage of the opportunities offered. Indeed the future of aboriginal communities in the 1990s and beyond, depends, as it has in the past, upon aboriginal initiative and the support of white Australians.

d) private sector needs and demands

The private sector in Australia is overwhelmingly small business, of which there are over 830,000. The 1990s recession has bitten deeply into sales, profits and investment. The creation of jobs and the promotion of export growth and import-replacement capacity all crucially depend on the capacity of government to stimulate private sector growth, which must be a major policy issue in the 1990s.

e) local government needs and demands

Local government has never achieved any significance in Australia. The power of local government over land use, however, has brought them more into the mainstream of the environmental-development debate. The issue of local government reform enters state policy agendas from time-to-time, but the result is inevitably the re-designation of a few jurisdictional boundaries. The policy and public administration irrelevance of local government is not likely to change significantly in the 1990s, except possibly in matters dealing with environment and ecological degradation.

f) mass migration and its consequences

g) environmental concerns

The environmental movement is centred on the twin notions of preserving Australia's natural and cultural heritage and conservation, the proper management of the environment. The Whitlam Labor Government embraced the environment as a major quality of life issue, setting the political tone for the next two decades at both the federal and state levels. As environmental and conservation management are state responsibilities, with federal involvement being justified in terms of its international responsibilities concerning heritage protection under its external affairs constitutional powers, decision-making on environmental and conservation issues has been ad hoc and often based on expediency. The inevitable clash between conservation and development ensures that sustainable economic development will remain on the political agenda throughout the 1990s and beyond.

h) economic decline or need for economic growth

With unemployment at over one million people, a level that is, in political terms, unacceptable, the challenge facing government is to find policy solutions that will stimulate economic and employment growth and so reduce unemployment to more acceptable levels.

i) development of political pluralism

j) other

 

 

Critical policy areas, which may be increasing or decreasing in importance:

a) education

The Australian education system has over the last decade been presented with a number of challenges that seem likely to persist well into the 1990s. At the primary and secondary levels, the focus has been on improving standards of numeracy and literacy and improving retention rates.

At the post-secondary level, the challenges have involved the integration of the advanced education (polytechnic) sector with the university sector (to achieve economies of scale and the vocationalise universities); the expansion of both university and technical and further education, including the development of television-based open university education (to help met the excess demand that exists for higher education, caused by the lack of employment opportunities for school leavers); and the thrust towards competency-based training and even education (to enhance work-related skills and to credentialise vocational education and training).

Education will remain a policy domain of increasing importance in the 1990s, since it plays such an important part in Australia's drive for international competitiveness (for occupationally-relevant knowledge and skill acquisitions are seen as important precursors to improved labour productivity) and since it keeps young people out of unemployment.

b) social security

The changes occurring in the labour market, with the introduction of enterprise bargaining (threatening the protection currently offered by minimum wages) and the increasing incidence of part-time and casual work (making social assistance a de facto wage subsidy), are likely to impact on the profile of poverty, with the emergence, for the first time, of poverty amongst the employed.

The impact of Australia's aging population on its poverty profile in the early decades of the twenty-first century will also offer policy challenges to be confronted before the end of the 1990s.

c) health

Health services in Australia are funded by federal and state governments, by private health insurance organizations and by direct patient contributions. The federal government is responsible for the universal health-insurance scheme (Medicare), for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and for regulating the pharmaceutical industry. The state governments are responsible for the provision of public hospital and community health services. Private health insurance covers patients for treatment by a doctor of their choice in a public or private hospital. Individual contributions are payable because health insurance reimbursements cover no more than 85% of doctors' fee and less than the cost of private hospital care.

Health will be a policy domain of increasing importance in the 1990s. This is because of the escalating cost of health services (in the face of an aging population, of increasing unit-cost of services (reflecting, in part, doctors' fee increases) and of increased community expectation of medical treatment); the need for a greater orientation towards preventative health care (especially occupation health care) and for more emphasis on health education (especially in regards to AIDS, drugs of addiction and wellness).

d) environment

The growing importance of "green" politics ensures that environmental and conservation issues will be a policy domain of increasing importance throughout the 1990s and beyond. Although in the short-term the environment-development debate has begun to swing more towards development in the face of Australia's unacceptably high level of unemployment, achieving ecologically sustainable economic growth is a challenge to be addressed by governments in the 1990s.

e) immigration

Immigration policy has long had both humanitarian and economic dimensions. The humanitarian considerations focus on family reunion and refugee status. Economic considerations focus on business migration (immigration linked to investment capacity and business capacities) and target numbers (increasingly linked inversely to unemployment). The immigration policy debate is shifting inextricably towards economic considerations, which means that as unemployment is likely to remain unacceptably high for much of the 1990s, the immigration policy domain will become correspondingly important.

The growth of Australia's population is the direct result of immigration over the past two centuries. In the 1990s, 20% of Australian residents were born overseas and a further 20% are the children of one or two immigrant parents.

The traditional source of immigrants has been the UK, but this began to change in the 1950s (towards European immigrants) and in the 1970s (towards Asian immigrants, including a relatively small proportion of refugees from Vietnam and China). By the early 1990s there were just under one million Asian immigrants in Australia, coming largely from Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Malaysia, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. These shifts in the pattern of immigration have resulted in little social tension, although immigration, according to the Fitzgerald Inquiry of 1988, had become a controversial issue by the mid-1980s. It is undoubtedly going to remain one throughout the 1990s.

f) criminal justice

The criminal justice system comprises the policing system, the judicial system and the prison system, all of which fall largely within state jurisdiction (unless the criminal offence is under a federal law, such as corporations law, tax law, customs and excise law).

Policing agencies are generating two major challenges for governments to address in the 1990s. The first is how to restore public credibility in the face of the almost endless litany of corruption allegations, misconduct charges and occasional convictions of senior police officers well documented in the much-publicized critical finding of royal commissions. The second is how to deal with changing patterns of crime, especially increasing incidence of drug-related violent crimes and break-and-enter offences; of "white collar" crime and of corporate crime.

The judicial system over the last decade has been over-burdened to the point that the lead-time before an accused person goes to trial is now measured in years. The high cost to justice has not gone unnoticed, although it must be acknowledged that federally financed Legal Aid has obviated some of the problems, but its continued funding is not assured.

The prison systems are confronting problems of overcrowding, the detention of remand prisoners with convicted prisoners, the high proportion of aboriginal prisoners and a growing proportion of female prisoners.

g) agriculture

Australia has long practiced agrarian socialism, whereby statutory marketing authorities operate in major export oriented primary industries (especially, wheat and wool) and which also administer guaranteed minimum price schemes for producers. Indeed, commodity-based GBEs service a wide variety of primary industries (including the dairy, dried fruits, meat and livestock and wine industries).

h) industrial

Although Australia's secondary industries experienced rapid growth in the 1950s and 1960s, they declined in the 1970s and well into the 1980s. One of the major problems was that the bulk of the immense capital inflow into Australia in the 1980s went into mining, services and real estate, with very little being directed into manufacturing, which also had the effect of restricting inward manufacturing technology transfer. The limited overseas capital that did flow into secondary industry went more into corporate purchases, increasing foreign ownership, than into productive, technology-driven investment.

The time-honoured solution of throwing up tariff barriers was, however, recognized in the 1980s as an ineffective approach to the problems facing secondary industry. The policy strategies proffered by the Hawke Labor Government, as illustrated by the Button Plan for the motor vehicle industry, involved a more towards reduced tariff protection and a more positive incentive to encourage the modernization of plant, the rationalization of production (workplace) processes, productivity-related and new-product research and export marketing.

Australia needs to develop a secondary industry sector that produces internationally competitive, exportable or import-replacement products that will, alone, ensure that secondary industry policy will be of increasing importance in the 1990s. Added to this is the sensitive issue of foreign ownership, which is likely to become an increasingly more important policy issue in the 1990s, a response to the public dismay that many well known Australian manufacturing icons have become, in recent years, owned or controlled by interests in the US and Japan.

i) public works

Public works has been a major domain of governments, particularly at the state level. The strategy adopted by state and federal governments over the last two decades, in the face of Australia's economic difficulties and chronic budget deficits, has been to shift responsibility for infrastructure maintenance and development off-budget to GBEs.

In the 1980s, this resulted in large international infrastructure borrowing by the states, compounding Australia's foreign debt and balance of payments difficulties. Moreover, in times of unacceptably high unemployment, short-term job creation through public works is seen by government as a palliative. The Keating Labor Government adopted this strategy as part of its response to the early 1990s recession.

Public works, as a policy domain, will always be important in Australia because of governments' necessary role and because of the challenges offered by a small population thinly spread across a large area. Being a palliative to unemployment will ensure that public works does not diminish in policy importance in the 1990s.

j) urban decay/infrastructure

Responsibility for urban affairs is shared between the local, state and federal governments. Local government has responsibility for determining land use and for urban planning. The state governments provide most urban infrastructure services (such as water, sewerage and public transport services). The federal government's role is more circumspect, focussing essentially on housing (for low income-earners and crisis accommodation) and community services (for the aged, the disabled and for children).

As a policy domain, urban affairs have diminished in importance at the federal level since the Whitlam years in the early 1970s. While the problems associated with urban living, especially those relating to the environment, homelessness, crime and public transport are acknowledged and, in some instances, palliative measures have been even been adopted, there would seem to be no political will to grapple with this policy domain in any coherent way. It will thus, in all likelihood, remain on the margin of policy irrelevance throughout the 1990s.

k) micro economic reform

Driven by the desire to achieve increased international competitiveness the Hawke Labor Government initiated a micro-economic reform process that involved deregulation (as in the banking system in 1984 and telecommunications in 1992); workplace reform (under the Structural Efficiency Principle determined by the Industrial Relations Commission in 1988); industry restructuring (as with the Button plan for the motor vehicle industry and reform of the Australian waterfront); government restructuring (such as commercialization, corporatization and privatization, including contracting out); promotion of competition (for example, through phased tariff reductions and monitoring of business pricing practices); and the promotion of competency-based training and vocational education (for example, the introduction of Training Guarantee Levy and reform and expansion of technical and further education). The thrust of micro-economic reform will continue throughout the 1990s, perhaps even accelerate.

l) macro economic management

The macro-economic policy agenda for the 1980s and 1990s was set in the circumstances that existed in the early 1980s, namely, high inflation, high unemployment, chronic balance of payments deficits, stagnant economic growth and chronic budget deficits. The Hawke Labor Government set as a priority macro-economic goal employment growth, which was achieved largely by making industry more competitive (through the currency devaluation (caused by the deregulation of the exchange rate) and keeping wage increases below inflation).

Ultimately, however, Australia's high level of inflation and chronic balance of payments deficits became important twin policy priorities. The prompted the use of monetary policy instruments to increase interests rates markedly, which when combined with the fiscal restraint that produced federal budget surpluses in the late 1980s and the downward trend in the international economy, produced a recession that saw unemployment return to its high levels of the early 1980s, inflation drop to its lowest level in 30 years and the chronic balance of payments deficits continue more or less unabated. This is the macro-economic context that faces government in the 1990s, which ensures that macro-economic policy will be the dominant policy domain throughout the decade.

m) other

 

 

National context

a) population size and age dynamics

The Australian population is forecast to reach 17.73 million in 1993. Over the next five years, population growth is expected to fall (to just over 1.0% a year), because both natural increase and net migration are expected to fall; the former at a slower rate than the latter.

 The Australian population is aging, as the post-war "baby boomers" move through the age structure. The number of people aged 65 and over (1.99 million or 11% of the population in 1992) is expected to reach 2.23 million (or 12% of the population) in 1997. It is also projected that this trend will accelerate dramatically in the early decades of the next century, resulting in an aged population of at least 5.1 million (20% of the population) in 2031.

 b) economics dynamics

Australia's economic future in the 1990s is delicately balanced. The economic growth required to significantly reduce unemployment can be produced is problematic, given the recessions being experienced by Australia's major trading partners (Japan, US and the EEC). Whether Australia's chronic balance of payments deficits and growing international indebtedness can be reversed also depends as much, if not more, on developments in the international economy as it does on policy parameters under government control, such as interest rates, exchange rates and protection strategies which have been used in the recent past to increase international competitiveness. Australia's economic future for the rest of the 1990s is bleak, unless significant recovery occurs in the international economy.

c) social dynamics, including migration/refugee movement

The last two decades has seen white Australia confront its aboriginal legacy, a legacy of forcible land take-over, or the rape, of the virtual destruction, of aboriginal land rights began in the 1960s and has continued since, but progress has been slow. The social problems facing Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have now been identified (alcoholism, unemployment, poverty and inadequate health care) and are being addressed, however inadequately, as are their consequences (unacceptably high death rates, relatively short life expectances and increased criminal behaviour). Nevertheless, the age-old racial prejudices, especially in rural Australia, are not going to disappear in the short-term. Rather, the problems are likely to be compounded throughout the 1990s, as resentment and apprehension aroused by legislation conferring special rights upon aborigines, in the face of a recession that has inflicted hardship on all Australians, may well revive the politics of prejudice and so give legitimacy to racist nationalism.

The desirability of maintaining high levels of immigration was first questioned in the 1970s as unemployment began to escalate. The 1990s has seen an increasing insistence that Australia no longer needed, or could afford, mass migration, which is seen by its critics as threatening the employment chances of native-born Australians and increasing pressure on the economic and social infrastructures. Immigration and unemployment have thus become intimately linked and will remain so for the rest of he 1990s.

d) poverty alleviation, massive unemployment

The prevailing high levels of unemployment have increased the number of people in poverty, especially children, as, increasingly, unemployment extends beyond school leavers to the once-secure middle income and older age groups.

Australia has evolved a social assistance safety net with a high level of target efficiency. It focuses largely on those in, or only marginally out of poverty, who are unemployed or outside the workforce. Those in employment have the protection of the minimum wages levels to keep them well out of poverty. There is little doubt, but no hard data in support, that poverty deepened in Australia during the early 1990s. This, alone, will ensure poverty amelioration will remain on the political agenda throughout the 1990s.

e) labour relations issues

Australia's centralized system of wage fixation, which dates back to the beginning of federation at the turn of the century, is institutionalized as a quasi-judicial body and is constitutionally based upon the premise of industrial conflict. The rhetoric of industrial relations has long been one of conflict; the practice involved the settlement of disputes. This, however, began to change in the 1980s, as the Hawke Labor Government and its successor, the Keating Labor Government built an alliance between the union movement and federal government to limit wage increases, to reduce industrial disputation and to facilitate industrial relations reform.

The key to the future of labour relations in Australia lies with enterprise bargaining, which has bi-partisan political support, although the major political groupings have markedly different views on the speed and reform.

The Hawke Labor Government and its successor, the Keating Labor Government build an alliance between the union movement and federal government, the so called Prices and Incomes Accord, which set the context within which both sides would operate. The result was noticeable wage restraints and markedly reduced incidence of industrial disputes.

As part of the micro-economic reform process, introduced under the Structural Efficiency Principle embodied in the Industrial Relations Commission's National Wage Case Decision of August 1988, wage increases were linked to improvements in efficiency, multi-skilling and career paths, which lead to award restructuring (the broadbanding of previously separate awards so as to reduce the number and complexity of industrial awards), work practices reform (designed to increase productivity and reduce discriminatory practices) and, more recently, productivity agreements (the linking of future wage increases to productivity growth) and voluntary enterprise bargaining (whereby the employers and unions agree on a central set of pay and conditions for employees applying for a certain period). The 1990s reform agenda also includes occupational health and safety, real wages justice, real wage equality for women and adequate and affordable childcare.

The future of labour relations in Australia lies with enterprise bargaining. The only uncertainty is the speed of its implementation in the 1990s.

f) increasing role of judiciary

Tensions in the relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches of government emerged in the 199s. The High Court has shown a willingness to make policy where the Parliament has failed to do so; and to invalidate legislation by interpreting inferences beyond the words of the Constitution. The Executive has shown willingness to abolish statutory quasi-judicial bodies and to threaten the independence of the judiciary; and to change the jurisdiction, powers and processes that should be adopted by quasi-judicial bodies that threaten the Executive.

g) increasing impact of media and media relations

The development of media technology has radically altered over the last 30 years the way a government relates to its constituents. Television has long replaced the print media as the primary media vehicle, especially with the proliferation of news and current affairs programs. One consequence has been the focussing of much public attention on the major political party leaders, especially during election campaigns.

Politicians are now under much more public scrutiny as a result of the broadcasting of federal Parliament over the radio and the televising of Parliament. It also means that politicians have needed to become more adept at handling the media. So, to an increasing degree, image, especially leadership images, have tended to assume an ascendancy over substantive policy issue in the public mind.

h) decreasing resources available to government

At the federal level, significant efforts have been made to reduce expenditure and increase public sector efficiency. The states were somewhat less fiscally responsible, until a series of embarrassing scandals, which began in New South Wales in the med-1980s and extended to Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia in the 1990s ushered in a more responsible approach to budget management, made even more urgent by the 1990s recession, biting deeply into the revenue bases of all government. Managing with less is now the catch cry at all levels of government. Future budgetary prospects depend crucially on the speed of economic recovery, which must be as bleak as the prospects of rapid economic growth.

i) relations of public service with politicians/ministers

j) growing differentiation and interaction of various spheres in society

k) other

Australia has long relied on bi-lateral alliances for its ultimate defence: first the UK and then, since World War II, the US. This strategy has not fundamentally changed, although it no long dominates defence policy as there are no perceived external threats to Australia's security, popular concerns about Indonesia notwithstanding. Australian defence policy since the mid 1980s has been aimed at having an independent defence capability, one that is based on continental rather than the forward defence of Australia. Unless some unexpected change occurs in the risk of external threat, defence as a policy domain is likely to remain relatively unimportant in the 1990s.

 

 

International context

a) size, availability, etc of foreign investment

Foreign investment and foreign ownership were controversial issues in the 1950s and 1960s, with the emergence of multinational corporation and their increasing involvement in the exploitation of Australia's natural resources. By the 1980s, public concern was also being expressed about the extent of foreign ownership of Australian real estate, especially by the Japanese.

A major challenge for the 1990s is for the government to develop strategies that will reduce Australia's international indebtedness and substitute domestic savings for foreign investment and so that halt the progress for foreign ownership.

b) amount and types of technology transfer-in

Throughout the twentieth-century Australia has been a world leader in the adoption of new techniques, from automated banking to satellite technologies; in stark contrast, however, support of the development of indigenous discoveries, especially on the part of the business community, has been less than enthusiastic.

As Australia's reliance on relatively efficient, but vulnerable, primary industries and relatively inefficient secondary industries is increasingly called into question, the role of science and technology in the development of new products and improved production processes is being expanded, for it is seen by government as an important ingredient in Australia's economic recovery and development in the 1990s.

c) nature of markets for national products

Australia's unique combination of immense natural resources and small population has always made trade the backbone of its economy. While trade has historically represented a high proportion of Australia's GNP, it has invariably involved an exchange of raw materials for finished products, largely because such goods from the UK (up to the 1950s), the US (from the 1950s to the 1970s) and, more recently, Asia have always been cheaper because of the economies of scale available overseas. This traditional trade pattern came under serious threat in the mid-1980s.

In the mid-1980s, Australia suffered a large shift in its terms of trade. The prices of a wide range of export commodities fell and the trade balance deteriorated dramatically. Australian exports were threatened by subsidized exports from the US and the EEC. The policy response was to shun the use of tariffs to prop up relatively inefficient local manufacturing industry and rely on a considerable devaluing of the Australian currency and measure to encourage manufacturing exports.

Australia had effectively begun a major structural change process aimed at diversifying its export base (especially into manufacturing and service industries) and reducing imports (by making manufacturers more internationally competitive). This structural adjustment process has continued into the 1990s. Its successful completion remains a major challenge for government for the rest of the decade.

Australia's major trading partners throughout the 1980s have been Japan, the US, the UK and China. This is unlikely to change dramatically in the 1990s.

d) structural adjustment policies and programmes

e) role of external cooperation in state redesign

f) availability of external assistance/aid/grants

g) ethnicity

h) religious fundamentalism

i) anti-corruption programmes

Corruption by public officials, elected or otherwise, entered the Australian political agenda towards the end of the 1980s. It began in Queensland when the Ahern State National Government set up a public enquiry which led to the exposure in 1989 of widespread and long-established corruption in Queensland. In New South Wales, the Greiner Liberal Coalition Government established the Independent Commission Against Corruption in the face of rumours of corruption in government. Rather ironically the ICAC subsequently found the Greiner himself had acted corruptly over a decision to provide a senior public service position to a troublesome political opponent (Greiner subsequently resigned from the premiership and from politics).

In Western Australia, the saga of WA Inc (a policy adopted by the Burke Labor Government which involved modeling government enterprise on the corporate sector and the investing by government in the corporate sector) led to a scandal for the Dowding Labour Government, which has led to criminal charges being laid against senior officials and former politicians. Scandals and rumours of corruption have also emerged in Victoria and South Australia form the late 1980s, in the face of the financial collapses of major state-run banks, which in Victoria, at least, has resulted in one senior official being convicted of corruption. The result of all exposure has been that anti-corruption is now firmly in place on Australia's political agenda, especially at the state level.

j) role of transnational corporations

k) role of international consulting firms

l) role of international political change

m) role of multi-laterals and bi-laterals

n) global communications networks

Rapidly changing communications technology is throwing up deregulation challenges to the federal government in the 1990s. The introduction of pay television (provided by means of satellite broadcasts) has taken on considerable political and economic importance since the early 1990s. The technical capacity to increase the number of radio and television broadcasters has brought to the forefront issues such as the concentration of media ownership, the development of public and community broadcasting and the appropriate extent of compulsory local content on television.

The appropriate service-delivery role of government in the communications industry is also on the 1990s political agenda. The role and nature of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Special Broadcasting Service are being reconsidered, in terms of degree to which they should become more self-funding through advertising and sponsorship. The deregulation of the telecommunications industry has seen the emergence of a more competitive, but still state-owned, duopoly. The communications will certainly remain a policy domain of importance in the 1990s.

o) global, regional dichotomies and grouping

p) international data banks

q) international expert systems

r) international evaluation studies

s) other

The Hawke Labor Government moved to more closely link foreign and trade policies. In the 1990s the challenge will be to address the implications of the apparent inability of the US, Japan and EEC member countries to settle the on-going GATT dispute, which affects Australia's access to world markets and may force Australia either to align with one of the major world trading blocs or to adopt a more independent trade and foreign policy position. In any event, Australia's foreign policy shift towards Asia acknowledges that Australia's immediate economic future is now intimately linked with that of the Asia-Pacific region.

 

 

 

 

II. CHANGING ROLE/SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT

b) social security

The major government social security role shift that has occurred over the last decade involved the introduction of compulsory occupational superannuation (1990) funded by both employee and employer and administered by the non-government sector. This initiative is intended to reduce the social security cost of Australia's aging population in the long-term and to increase the rate of domestic savings in the shorter term.

Although there is little likelihood of any major changes occurring to Australia's social security system in the 1990s, the federal government will have to face two major challenges, which may well produce further role shifts.

First, the economic burden of compulsory occupational superannuation of employers may give rise to pressures for its abandonment, which should this occur, would add to the cost of social security in the second and third decades of the next century. Secondly, with the prevailing high levels of unemployment likely to remain for the foreseeable future, the high and rising cost to social security of unemployment is a burden that may necessitate a reassessment of the welfare safety-net role of government, particularly as labour market conditions are causing social security payments to become a de facto wage subsidy for part-time and casual employees.

c) health

At the federal level, the major health role shift over the last decade has involved the re-creation of a universal health-insurance schemed then abolished by the Fraser Liberal-National Country Government administered by the Health Insurance Commission, a statutory authority within the Ministry of Health, Housing and Community Services.

At the state level, governments have sought to stem the escalating public hospital costs by closing public hospitals and imposing higher patient fees.

While the prospect of further major health role shifts in the 1990s cannot be anticipated, governments must confront the major challenge of stemming the escalating public and private health costs which may well be bringing about policy paradigm shifts (particularly the commercialization, even privatization, of public hospitals and the encouragement of greater use of private insurance) which may well accelerate in the rate of policy change as the 1990s progresses.

d) environment

At both the state and federal levels, the environmental concerns that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s has led to the adoption of regulatory practices, including those ensuring that environmental assessment precede government approval for major private sector developmental projects and to the closer and more detailed monitoring of the environment.

To administer environmental policies both state and federal governments have created specialist technical agencies, usually Environmental Protection Agencies. Federal environment policy is administered by the Department of the Arts, Sport, the Environment and Territories, supported by the Resource Assessment Commission, created as a statutory authority in 1989 to provide the federal government with independent advice on options of resource use to achieve ecologically sustainable development.

While the governments' environment and conservation role shifts that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s will not be reversed in the 1990s, the rate of change previously achieved is unlikely to be maintained throughout the 1990s, as the tension between environmental protection and economic development is likely to increase in the face of the governments' need to foster economic recovery and export growth.

e) immigration

Immigration is constitutionally a federal responsibility, which is administered by the Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs. Immigration role shifts over the last decade were in three major areas.

First, there were regular revisions of regulations to control the immigration profile, especially in relation to refugees, so as to accommodate the changing humanitarian and economic objectives of immigration policy. Secondly, the federal government now provides migrants with English training and interpreter and translation services. Thirdly, there has been an out-coursing to registered immigration agents, on a private fee-for-service basis, of the provision of immigration advice to potential migrants, in the context of the Independent-Business Skills Program, which has replaced the Business Migration Program created in the mid-1980s.

While the prospect of any further major immigration role shift in the 1990s cannot be anticipated, the federal government must confront the increasing insistence that Australia no longer needs, or can afford, mass migration, which is seen by its critics as a threat to employment chances of native-born Australians and an increased pressure on Australia's already-strained economic and social infrastructures. This means that the possibility of an immigration policy paradigm shift (such as a dramatic reduction if the level if immigration permitted or a shift in the immigration profile away from Asia) in the 1990s cannot be ruled out, which may increase the rate of policy change quite dramatically.

f) criminal justice

Both state governments and, to a lesser extent, the federal government are facing the prospect of criminal justice role changes in the 1990s. State governments, confronted with much public criticism of the police, may well significantly reduce the degree administrative independence and increased public parliamentary accountability of the police, which a New South Wales parliamentary committee is currently considering.

State governments also face the prospect of changing the nature of their prison systems in the face of public concern especially about over-crowding and the treatment of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Debate has already begun about the desirability and feasibility radically different approaches to prison administration and the greater use of detention technology. The prospects of significant government role shifts in the 1990s are, however, not high.

For the federal government the role shift issues likely to dominate the 1990s relate to the policies and institutional arrangements needed to address the increasing incidence of corporate and "white collar" crime.

g) agriculture

h) industrial

The private sector has long had an intimate relationship with both state and federal governments. In the primary industries, this has focussed on export-oriented, product-specific marketing GBEs, which also administer a federally funded guaranteed minimum prices scheme for producers. The role of these GBEs was changed in the 1980s as a result of deregulation and a reduction in the level of government funding for price support schemes.

The administration of federal primary industry policy is the responsibility of the Department of Primary Industry and Energy, supported by a wide array of advisory bodies. It is not anticipated that these institutional and policy arrangements will be subject to radical change in the 1990s, although as a global trade war between the major trading blocs cannot be discounted, neither can future government role shifts be discounted in the face of the consequences of such a trade war.

For secondary industry the 1980s brought quite a radical government role change, with the demise of tariff barriers as a preferred instrument of secondary industry policy. The policy strategies proffered by governments at the federal and state levels were to provide incentives to encourage modernization, rationalization, research and export marketing, including the provision of investment funds by state economic development agencies and the corporatization of Australian Industry Development Corporation Ltd. (investment financing), the Australian Trade Commission (trade promotion services), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (industrial research) and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Ltd. (engineering and project management consulting services).

Secondary industry policy at the federal level is administered by the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, with the support of specialist agencies and advisory bodies (such as the National Standards Commission, the Industries Commission, the Automotive Industry Authority and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Development Authority). While the prospect of any further major government role shifts in the 1990s by governments cannot be anticipated, governments must confront the twin challenges of achieving international competitiveness and inhibiting further foreign ownership. This means that the possibility of a policy paradigm shift (towards a faster and more comprehensive of reform) in the 1990s cannot be ruled out, which may increase the rate of policy change quite dramatically.

The service industries also experienced the impact of government role shifts in the last decade. In the banking industry it was the partial privatization by public share issue of the federal government's Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 1991. In the insurance industry it was the privatization by public share issue of the New South Wales Government Insurance Office. In the tourist industry, which had been earmarked by both federal and state governments as an important source of economic growth, with positive balance of payments implications, the role shift involved greater government intervention.

The federal government created the Department of Tourism in 1991 to administer its tourism policies. The promotion of the tourist industry by state and federal tourist promotional bodies (such as the federal Australian Tourist Commission) was a major government role shift in the 1980s.

Further government role shifts are likely in the 1990s, especially in relation to the privatization of state-owned GBEs in the banking and insurance industries and the provisionally increased support to the tourism industry, in the form of tourism education and training and labour market and workplace reforms (designed to increase productivity and improve serviced quality).

i) public works

Being a large country with a small population has meant that governments are almost the sole provider of the economic infrastructure (such as road and railway networks, telecommunication systems, energy generation capacities and water and sewerage systems). Thus, public works has been a major domain of governments, particularly at the state level. The strategy adopted by state and federal governments over the last two decades, in the face of Australia's economic difficulties and chronic budget deficits, has been to shift responsibility for infrastructure maintenance and development off-budget to GBEs.

In the 1980s, this resulted in large international infrastructure borrowing by the states, compounding Australia's foreign debt and balance of payments difficulties. Moreover, in times of unacceptably high unemployment, short-term job creation through public works is seen by government as a palliative. The Keating Labor Government adopted this strategy as part of its response to the early 1990s recession.

Public works, as a policy domain, will always be important in Australia because of governments' necessary role and because of the challenges offered by a small population thinly spread across a large area. Being a palliative to unemployment will ensure that public works does not diminish in policy importance in the 1990s.

j) urban decay/infrastructure

The government role shifts at the state level in the 1980s have involved the corporatization of most urban infrastructure services (such as water, sewerage and public transport services). This enabled Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works in Victoria, for example to sub-contract all water, sewerage and civil design functions to private consulting engineers in 1991. It also enabled the Sydney Water Board to split into a private sector trading division and the core services division, with its water and sewerage operations being privatized in 1992.

The federal government's major urban affairs role shifts in the 1980s involved the introduction of housing assistance and changes to community services delivery mechanisms. The first involved the provision, through state housing departments or authorities, of financial support for housing and rental assistance for low income-earner and for crises housing, administered by the Department of Health, Housing and Community Services. The second involved the creation of separate administrative bodies, semi-detached from departmental structures, to deliver and coordinate services to the aged (Office for the Aged) and the disabled (Office for the Disabled).

The government role shift issue that will dominate urban affairs for the rest of the 1990s will be the extent to which state governments, in the face of intense budgetary pressures, will seek either to privatize or to continue to deficit finance and/or underwrite borrowings of the corporatized urban infrastructure service providers. At the federal level, further government role shifts are difficult to imagine in the fiscal climate that is likely to prevail for most of the 1990s.

k) micro economic reform

The micro-economic reform process initiated in the 1980s represents a major role shift by the federal government, which is supported by comparable role shifts by state governments. These role shifts have included limited industry deregulation, corporatization and privatization and the introduction of measures to promote and foster workplace reforms, industrial relations reforms, the standardization of state industry-based and product-based regulations.

At the federal level, the change agents have been the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, Industrial Relations, Transport and Communications and of Employment, Education and Training and specialist agencies (such as the Industry Commission, the Prices Surveillance Authority and the Industrial Relations Commission). The thrust of micro-economic reform will continue throughout the 1990s, perhaps even accelerate in pace, in order to achieve the central objective of increasing Australia's international competitiveness.

l) macro economic management

Macro-economic policy is a federal responsibility as is administered by the Department of the Treasury (fiscal policy), in conjunction with the Department of Finance (expenditure review and control) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (monetary policy), supported by specialist agencies (such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Industry Commission, the Foreign Investment Review Board, the Prices Surveillance Authority and the Australian Taxation Office). The dominant policy priority of the 1980s, to reduce inflation, has been superseded in the 1990s by the need for government to reduce unemployment.

A government role shift in the field of macro-economic policy that may well occur in the 1990s is the increased use of private consultants (including think tanks) to provide alternative sources of policy advice on macro-economic policy. This possibility has come about because of the declining credibility of the economic forecasting and policy advice being given by the economic policy agencies. Indeed, this has brought into question the role, responsibilities and political independence of the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is an issue that may well produce a role shift in the 1990s.

m) other

The most important federal government defence role shift in the 1980s involved defence support services, which were corporatized such as Aerospace Technologies of Australia Pty Ltd. (aerospace technology development), Army and Airforce Canteen Service (catering services), Australian Defence Industries Pty Ltd. (munitions and equipment suppliers) and the Defence Housing Authority (housing services) or privatization (naval dockyards in Melbourne and Sydney).

At the federal level further government defence role shifts are difficult to imagine, unless some unexpected change occurs in the risk of external threat.

 

 

 

National context

a) population size and age dynamics

b) economics dynamics

c) social dynamics, including migration/refugee movement

Immigration policy has long had both humanitarian and economic dimensions. The humanitarian considerations focus on family reunion and refugee status. Economic considerations focus on business migration (immigration linked to investment capacity and business capacities) and target numbers (increasingly linked inversely to unemployment). The immigration policy debate is shifting inextricably towards economic considerations, which means that as unemployment is likely to remain unacceptably high for much of the 199s, the immigration policy domain will become correspondingly important.

d) poverty alleviation, massive unemployment

e) labour relations issues

Industrial relations is a responsibility shared by the federal and state governments. At the federal level the Hawke Labor Government and its successor, the Keating Labor Government built a formal alliance between the union movement and federal government, the result of which was noticeable wage restraint, markedly reduced incidence of industrial disputes and a willingness to initiate industrial relations reforms.

As part of the micro-economic reform process introduced under the Structural Efficiency Principle, embodied in the Industrial Relations Commission's National Wage Case decision of August 1988, wage increases were linked to improvements in efficiency, multi-skilling, and career paths, which lead to award restructuring (the broadbanding of previously separate awards so as to reduce the number and complexity of industrial awards), work practices reform (designed to increase productivity and reduce discriminatory practices) and, more recently, productivity agreements (the linking of future wage increases to productivity growth) and voluntary enterprise bargaining (whereby the employers and unions agree on a central set of pay and conditions for employees applying for a certain period).

The 1990s reform agenda also includes occupational health and safety, real wage justice, real wage equality for women and adequate and affordable childcare. At the state level it was not until the recent election of the Kennett Liberal Government in Victoria that any fundamental industrial relations role shifts could be identified. Victoria has initiated a wide range of labour market and industrial relations reforms that promise to revolutionize industrial relations in that state.

f) increasing role of judiciary

Both state governments and, to a lesser extent, the federal government are facing the prospect of criminal justice role changes in the 1990s. State governments, confronted with much public criticism of the police, may well significantly reduce the degree administrative independence and increased public and parliamentary accountability of the police, which a New South Wales parliamentary committee is currently considering.

State governments also face the prospect of changing the nature of their prison systems in the face of public concern especially about over-crowding and the treatment of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Debate has already begun about the desirability and feasibility radically different approaches to prison administration and the greater use of detention technology. The prospects of significant government role shifts in the 1990s are, however, not high.

For the federal government the role shift issues likely to dominate the 1990s relate to the policies and institutional arrangements needed to address the increasing incidence of corporate and "white collar" crime.

g) increasing impact of media and media relations

h) decreasing resources available to government

i) relations of public service with politicians/ministers

j) growing differentiation and interaction of various spheres in society

k) other

 

 

International context

a) size, availability, etc of foreign investment

b) amount and types of technology transfer-in

c) nature of markets for national products

d) structural adjustment policies and programmes

e) role of external cooperation in state redesign

f) availability of external assistance/aid/grants

g) ethnicity

h) religious fundamentalism

i) anti-corruption programmes

j) role of transnation corporations

k) role of international consulting firms

l) role of international political change

m) role of multi-laterals and bi-laterals

n) global communications networks

o) global, regional dichotomies and grouping

p) international data banks

q) international expert systems

r) international evaluation studies

s) other

 

 

 

 

 

III. ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT/REFORM/CHANGE

Shifts in the overall composition of the Governance structures

a) shifts in unitary/federal/composite formats

b) balance between rural development and urban management

c) number and portfolios of ministries etc.

d) number semi-independent boards/commissions or agencies

e) decentralization

 

 

Note: within the concept of decentralization, there are various types of tendencies:

a) devolution

b) dispersion

c) deconcentration

d) de-bureaucratization

The deliberations of Administrative Review Committee in 1971 led, in due course, to three pieces of legislation, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, the Ombudsman Act 1976 and the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 and to the setting up of the Administrative Review Council.

The Ombudsman, appointed by the government, has extensive powers to investigate complaints of mal-administration by federal institutions. The Ombudsman lacks the formal power to enforce a remedy but can report to a departmental head and if not satisfied with the response can take matters further, to the Prime Minister or even to Parliament.

Goldring and Thynne find that the Ombudsman has provided an admirably simple channel of redress for ordinary people and that occasional criticisms of slowness fail to take into account the large volume of work successfully accomplished and the limitations on resources.

e) strengthening municipal/local autonomy

f) other

 

 

Also, there are various functions which can be decentralized:

a) co-production of service delivery; receiving system

b) resource sharing

c) responsibility sharing; co-responsibility

d) authority sharing

e) decision-making sharing (governance sharing?)

f) information technology

g) personnel management

h) financial management

The specific objectives of the financial management reforms introduced into the APS in 1984 were:

The cornerstones of these financial management reforms were program budgeting and corporate planning, both of which became an integral part of the Financial Management Improvement Program (FMIP), which encompassed the reform of

The budgetary and regulatory environment reforms focused on the development of regulatory procedures that would encourage enhanced management efficiency and effectiveness, while increasing responsibility and accountability. The major thrust was the introduction of the running cost system in the 1987-1988 financial year, which gave agencies greater flexibility in the management of their resources by

i) planning and goal-setting

j) other

 

 

There are also various specific areas of decentralization changes:

a) mode of implementation

The APS agency management reforms has as their main conceptualization the Program Management and Budgeting (PMB) framework, which required agencies to:

APS agencies are thus required to develop a plethora of compatible plans (corporate plans, subsuming divisional and/or program plans; information technology strategy plans; equal employment opportunity plans, staff development and industrial democracy plans; portfolio access and equity plans; portfolio and agency evaluation plans and audit plans), which are integrated into their budgeting procedures to determine agency forward and additional estimates, thereby translating government policies into fiscal action.

Concurrently with implementation of FMIP was the thrust towards better risk management by APS managers. Risk management may be defined as a deliberate decision as to where and to what extent effort is applied to avoid an unacceptable or intolerable outcome flowing from a decision: ...risk management techniques...involve a more explicit assessment of the risks involved in taking a particular decision. Risk management recognizes that mistakes are made - but should not be repeatedly made. That would be risky management.

b) goals/reasons

c) impetus

d) context in which takes place

e) level of government involved

f) consequences/results/outcomes/evaluation

Traditionally, APS managers have been seen as risk avoiders or minimizers, regardless of the costs and effort involved. Under FMIP many central financial controls were relaxed, especially in relation to:

This re-orientation towards risk management, as distinct from risk avoidance or minimization, has generated some debate on the grounds that it is shifting the balance between efficiency and effectiveness, on the one hand and compliance, probity and fairness o the other. The Auditor General has commented publicly on the somewhat rapid acceptance of the ideal of risk management by the APS, noting, however, that "...there may have been slower recognition of the essentiality of its proper management." This view is shared by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration.

Fraud control has become an integral part of risk management in devolved financial management environment from 1987, following a wide-ranging review of systems for dealing with fraud. Focus is concentrated on major risk areas of the collection of taxes and fees, the payment of benefits, the procurement of goods and services and the payment of grants.

Asset management has also gained greater importance, for it is an integral part of the resource management reform, especially in an agency commercializing its core activities (most notably the Department of Administrative (DAS)) which must place more stress on the improving asset management performance since it required to produce financial reports on an accrual basis.

The first budget presented fully in accordance with FMIP principles was in 1992 covering the 1992-1993 financial year. The result was the production of a vast quantity of information on program objectives, program expenditure and program performance. There is little doubt that better-informed judgements can now be reached on whether individual programs are achieving results which justify their continued funding.

A Parliamentary review of FMIP completed in 1990 concluded that the FMIP has resulted in a streamlining of budgetary processes, established structures for program management and budgeting, simplified public financial management and improved financial planning and accountability.

g) professional modes of access

h) cooperative schemes

i) self-governing/self-regulating mechanisms

j) strengthening nodes: NGOs, etc.

k) other

 

 

In the public finance area, transformational changes or changes with transformational impact

a) budget; expenditure control

Purchasing reforms were aimed at promoting open and effective competition, promoting environmental responsibility and making more efficient and effective use of public moneys, while adding to the flexibility in financial management. It involved the devolution of purchasing responsibilities to APS agencies, subject to compliance with Department of Finance regulations and the introduction of the Australian Government Corporation Credit Card, in 1987, on the recommendation of the Efficiency Scrutiny of the Processing of Accounts, to streamline minor acquisitions. Outsourcing of information technology services, including those previously delivered in-house, has become a strategic option for management in the light of the Hawke Labor Government's Industry Statement released in March 1991, which stated, in part: ...subject to cost effectiveness, agency efficiency and public policy considerations, agencies are to test the market for outsourcing new and existing service requirements as an alternative to the maintenance of in-house capabilities. This is done with a view to achieving maximum outsourcing, subject to value for money and agency efficiency considerations.

b) receipts/taxation

c) public administration markets

d) other

 

 

Criteria used to determine the content of shifts

a) productivity improvement

b) service accountability

c) ethics

d) budget reduction

e) government-wide v. targeted to a few agencies

f) degree of comprehensiveness/depth

g) other

 

 

Processes used to determine the content of shifts

a) high level blue-ribbon committee

b) staff analysis

c) multi-level dialogue within Government

d) policy dialogue with NGOs, business sector etc

e) society-wide dialogue with individual participation

f) strategic planning/management/corporate planning

g) think tank-mechanisms to predict futures

h) mechanisms for initiation and co-ordination of reforms

i) other

 

 

Processes and methods used to implement shifts

a) administrative learning

b) goals, objectives, scope, coverage

c) organizational analysis, strategy,

d) evaluation, assessment

e) training institutions/ training policy

f) managing decline and cutback

g) total quality management (TQM); continuous improvement

h) accountability management (anti-corruption policies, macro-measures to improve monitoring & control)

i) internal/external communications

j) increased flexibility

k) increased standardization

l) monitoring of initiatives introduced throughout the government

m) team management

n) legislative compulsion

o) other

 

 

Specific methods have been used to reduce resistance to change

a) training

b) meetings

c) relationship to on-going activities

d) redundancies

e) early retirements

f) other

 

 

Consequences for the civil services during these shifts

a) recruitment/promotion/transfer/mobility

b) accountability and discipline

c) pay/remuneration policy, pension/retirement

d) decentralization

e) boundaries with other agencies

f) personnel involved: political policy types vs. directors of operations

g) coordination issues

h) loss of sectoral skills

i) reliance on external consultants

j) policy fragmentation

k) other

 

 

Methods used to measure impact of reform and development programmes

a) demonstrable behavioural outcomes

b) more directed management assessment, development and training

c) results-oriented management

d) performance-based appraisal

e) retro-fitting skills capacity

f) other

Describe your future projections of activities in the area of administrative reform/development/change. For each projection/prediction, indicate the following, indicate what you imagine or estimate would be the:

a) rate of change

b) direction of change

c) content of change

d) agent(s) of change

e) amount of change

f) level(s) of government involved

g) amount of continuity involved

h) assumptions implied in the prediction

i) other elements of the change

 

 

 

 

IV. MODERNIZATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS

Inputs/resources

Programmes undertaken in reform of human resources management systems/practices

a) career, incentives, performance, probation, promotion, management

The adoption of participative processes of job redesign and work reorganization (known as Office Structures Implementation (OSI) and Participative Work Design (PWD)), with the attendant commitment to the multi-skilling of public servants, were central to the successful implementation of the new administrative arrangements. The OSI-PWD strategies applied in 1988 involved administrative officers up to middle manager level analysing their work to develop duties that would fully utilize their knowledge and skills, so as to provide them with a more satisfying job. The process involved staff identifying existing workplace problems and then, through group problem solving exercises, identifying possible solutions.

The problem of "under-performing" public service has emerged as a significant human resource management policy issue. A report published jointly by the Management Advisory Board and the Management Improvement Advisory Committee suggests that formal procedures and grievance mechanisms are lengthy and complex, which inhibits their use by APS agencies and thus are in need of streamlining if the management of staff under-performance is to be further improved.

What has emerged is a view that the often unspoken beliefs in the public service, which have traditionally influenced development of people-management policies and procedures, need to be challenged. In particular:

The greatest challenge yet to be faced, however, is that of achieving a culture shift that reinforces a performance orientation and the consequential shift in behaviour of staff and management on performance and under-performance. This is characterized by:

Where action is taken on the grounds of poor performance, a public servant is placed on a three-month assessment period. Where this happened in 1991, 121 public servants agreed to retire before the period finished, while a further 26 had their employment terminated on the grounds of inefficiency. Alternative separation strategies available to managers include voluntary retrenchment, which is difficult to target and invalidity, the criteria for which have been tightened.

Other strategies available to management involve spills of positions, in the process of an organizational redesign, whereby an under-performing public servant becomes excess to requirements; and transferring the under performer to another position. The challenge facing the APS is to develop a more performance-oriented culture which supports an effective staff appraisal system that creates a more positive environment for the management and motivation of staff, especially those considered to be marginal or under-performers.

The human resource management reforms introduced in the 1980s have begun to have an impact on the APS. The Department of Finance has estimated that labour productivity was growing at the rate of 3 percent per annum in the late 1980s and anecdotal evidence would suggest that "measurable improvements" have occurred in terms of access to career development, program outcomes and service delivery. These reforms have also begun shifting APS staff profiles.

b) recruitment/selection/development

Further wide-ranging initiatives were introduced in 1990-1992, so as to improve APS recruitment, training and development, career paths and supervisory practices. These included the creation of new classifications for:

These structures are based on identified core competencies (competency standards are being developed by most agencies). This has been followed by the introduction career development and planning reviews involving staff appraisals and the use of individual development plans as mechanisms for improving workplace practices. At the Senior Officer levels this takes place in the context of the development and execution of individual Performance Agreements, which allow for performance appraisal, under a 1990 industrial agreement, the payment of performance pay, as from 1992, and the provision of competency-based training and development opportunities. This leaves untouched the issue of underperforming officers.

c) training policy

d) training curriculum changes and needs analysis

e) retrenchment/redeployment measures

f) transfer/mobility

g) discipline/ethics/codes of conduct

The Public Service Board was abolished, replaced by a much weaker Public Service Commission (PSC), now largely responsible for developing broad personnel management policy guidelines and frameworks embracing merit, equity, efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, privacy, industrial democracy and natural justice and training and development.

It has, however, retained responsibility for the appointment and promotion to the SES, acting upon the recommendation of agency heads, who, themselves, have been given some delegated power to transfer SES officers between agencies. Agency heads, however, negotiate individual SES Performance Agreements, under Guidelines issued by DIR in 1990, leading on to the payment of performance bonuses, from 1992 and the provision of competency-based training and development opportunities.

Simplified and streamlined provisions were also introduced in relation to discipline, promotions, promotion appeals and higher duties. These changes led to the devolution of human resource management to agency line managers, who were forced to take a more strategic approach to human resource management. It is also important, in this context to appreciate that significant machinery of government changes were made in July 1987, which reduced the number of APS agencies from 28 to 17, within 16 ministerial portfolios in a two-tier structure.

Human resource management in the 1990s has the goal, according to the Public Service Commission, of focussing "...on individual performance, thus helping people to achieve their agency's objectives and continuously improve their agency's performance. The reforms introduced in the 1980s and early 1990s have also begun to shift fundamental APS values in relation to equity, equality and access, institutionalized to the point that APS agencies are now publicly articulating policies, goal statements and strategies in these domains and even ethics, although the loss of an APS-wide perspective on fundamental principles and values has recently been lamented by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, which remarked:

The Committee would also like to emphasis that the ethos of public service is the most important feature of the APS. It views with alarm the perception that, with decentralization and devolution, the concept of working for the service of the public, is being diminished. It accepts the emphasis on efficiency, but points out that a balance needs to be achieved between efficiency and aspects such as access and equity.

h) merit/seniority/representational criteria

i) civil service pay and benefits; conditions of work

Wages policy was linked to improvements in efficiency, multi-skilling, and career paths, which lead to award restructuring (the broadbanding of previously separate awards so as to reduce the number and complexity of industrial awards under which public servants work, work practices reform (designed to increase productivity and reduce discriminatory practices) and, more recently, productivity agreements (the linking of future wage increases to productivity growth) and enterprise bargaining (whereby the government and public service unions agree on a central set of pay and conditions for public servants applying for a certain period).

General core pay increases are to be provided on the basis of service-wide productivity, market factors, recruitment and retention considerations and the implementation of APS-strategies to address absenteeism, improved handling of inefficiency, competency-based training, job security and redeployment and award rationalization. The controversial element is that in addition to this, agencies would be able to negotiate agreements for further increases in pay and variations to conditions in terms of agency productivity gains, which prompted one Parliamentary Committee to recommend that workplace bargaining within the APS be evaluated on an agency-by-agency basis two years after its introduction. This approach has the potential to radically change APS culture, by its focus on productivity, although its implementation will not be without problems.

j) employee/union relations

In November 1987, agreement was reached with the public sector unions, in the setting of the Structural Efficiency Principle, for a major restructuring of the APS, which involved the introduction of a single eight-level administrative structure that integrated over 100 separate job classifications. This arrangement reduced restrictive work and management practices that inhibited productivity growth and the implementation of occupational health and safety strategies (under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1991) and access and equity strategies, under the watchful eye of the Office of Multicultural Affairs within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, embracing equal employment strategies (under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984) by:

k) retirement, pensions

l) statistics and planning; number of posts; structural policy

The other APS staff profile change was a reduction during the 1980s in the proportion of administrative service officers grade 1 (ASO1s), from 42 percent in 1980, to 35 percent in 1987 to 32 percent in 1989, overlapping a rise in the proportion of middle managers (ASO7s and ASO8s). This development may be the result of the competition between APS agencies for scarce resources driving up classifications to a degree unjustified by the nature of the work undertaken and which has resulted in rapid rates of advancement for staff rationalized by agencies in terms of their progressively more complex operating environment in which the skills, experience and knowledge at these levels (ASO7 and ASO8) are increasingly required for the development and implementation of new or changed policies.

The implications of this trend for the standard of work undertaken in the Senior Officer grades (formerly ASO7 and ASO8), linked with the integrity of that classifications standards and their usefulness as a control mechanism, has been acknowledged. The move towards identifying middle management core competencies and the introduction of career development and planning reviews, in the context of individual Performance Agreements, may reduce these concerns.

m) job descriptions/classification systems

The first of many human resource management reforms introduced by the Hawke Labor government were intended to reinforce ministerial control and responsibility for the APS. In 1984, under the Public Service Act Amendment Act 1982, the long-standing four-tier divisional structure was replaced by an administrative-officer classification and, under the Public Service Reform Act, 1984, the Senior Executive Service (SES) was created, so as to:

n) other

The representation of the equal employment opportunity target groups increased throughout the 1980s, most notably for women and Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders although there is much room for improvement, especially in relation to people with disabilities and with non-English speaking backgrounds. More importantly, there has been an increase in the representation of women in the middle and senior ranks of the ASO structure and in the SES, although they are still under-represented as compared with their male counterparts.

 

 

Shifts attempted in reform of financial administration

a) budgetary planning

b) accrual accounting

c) programme budgeting

d) revenue mobilization and management

e) budgetary and financial management control

f) zero-based/performance budgeting etc

g) compensation adjustments

h) accountability

i) value for money

j) systems of accounts

k) other

 

 

Improvements attempted in information management

a) increasing access (secrecy)

b) adopting new technology

c) policies on information technology

d) coordination of development and adoption of new information technology

e) training for information technology

f) office automation

g) decision-support-systems

h) freedom of information/transparency

i) new administrative laws

j) expert systems/artificial intelligence/neural systems

k) data banks

l) other

 

 

Productivity management and improvement

Overall productivity programmes/projects undertaken

a) what specific measures or methodologies

b) by what specific organizations or sectors

c) development of standards

d) other

 

 

Methods used to identify and install productivity improvement projects

a) research studies for productivity improvement

By the early 1990s, APS agencies had been encouraged to identify, thoughtfully, services incidental to their core business for which charges could be introduced. In their search for such incidental services suitable for commercialization, agencies are encouraged by the Department of Finance (1992c) to consider:

b) planning, monitoring, evaluation, supervision

c) implementation studies

The vehicles for implementing commercialization were contained in the Audit Act 1901. The first approach involved the formation of a trust fund by the Minister for Finance, which would provide an agency with working accounts, established for specifically defined purposes, but regulated outside the agency's appropriation. Into a trust fund could flow appropriate extra-budgetary revenue (from, for example, the charging of fees or the sale of assets), which could be invested and/or used to pay expenses related to purposes of the trust fund.

The second approach catered for an agency seeking to commercialize non-core activities and involved crediting receipts derived from the charging of fees against an annotated appropriation head, which deems those receipts to have been appropriated, thus entitling the agency to retain the revenue budgeted to cover its direct costs while revenue budgeted to cover accrued costs (such as superannuation) is returned to the Consolidation Revenue Fund. Agencies using this approach would negotiate a resources agreement with the Department of Finance, which specifies the basis upon which new revenue is shared.

d) systematic managerial assessment

The increasing incidence of commercialization in the APS has brought into policy focus a variety of issues:

e) training programmes in productivity

f) managerial autonomy of agencies/enterprises

g) inspection systems

h) performance management

i) leadership training; vision; values

j) cost-benefit methodologies

Agencies are required under Department of Finance costing guidelines to aim for a full cost recovery when setting prices for their services. Thus, in principle, both the direct and indirect costs, including the opportunity cost of capital, should be reflected in the price. Business undertakings within agencies are required to prepare annual accounting statements on a full accrual basis, as if they were GBEs.

Full cost recovery, however, is acknowledged not to be preferable in all cases, thus potentially allowing a variety of pricing strategies to be adopted upon a basis determined by government. There would seem to be little prospect of business undertakings within agencies adopting marketing-driven strategic pricing tactics, such as penetration pricing, to build market share; price skimming, to take advantage of market position; or price differentiation, so that different prices are paid for the same product in different market segments.

Budget supplementation is one way that client agencies can offset the cost of commercialization by business undertakings within agencies operating as regulated monopolies, especially where the services supplied were previously provided without charge. The policy issue for government is, of course, the degree of supplementation that should be provided, for it is in the interests of both the client and the servicing agency to gain full supplementation, regardless of the potential efficiency gains. It also raises the controversial issue of whether client agencies should be able to have some discretion over their use of monopoly business undertakings within agencies and the level and quality of services they wish to purchase.

k) other

 

 

Outputs aimed at or perceived in the productivity improvement programmes/projects, along with demonstrable improvements achieved so far or projected

a) service delivery

The Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department has recently embarked on a major commercialization thrust that now involves the charging of fees for a range of its services and will see it from 1995 competing with the private sector in a partially deregulated public service market. Deregulation gives rise to a set of problematic policy issues associated with the degree of control that the central coordinating and control agencies should have over business undertakings within agencies, which assert, with a degree of veracity, that they cannot operate as if they were a private enterprise because:

These are controversial policy issues that have yet to be grappled with by the government.

b) relationship between government/public

Public accountability has been defined as: The obligations of person/authorities entrusted with public resources to report on the management of such resources and be answerable for the fiscal, managerial and program responsibilities that are conferred.

In terms of external accountability, the line of accountability in Westminster system is, in principle, for public servants to be responsible to ministers, who are responsible to Parliament, which is responsible to the people, by means of regular elections. There is also a somewhat blurred distinction drawn between "policy," for which ministers are responsible to Parliament and "implementation of policy," for which public servants are responsible to Ministers, who, in turn, are responsible to Parliament. The FMIP has exacerbated the external accountability dilemma facing public servants because it has shifted the accountability focus predominantly form one of compliance and due process to one of performance, while at the same time it has improved the information available to accommodate effectively these changes, preferring to focus on their own accountability agenda, one that, some would argue, concentrates on compliance, although the evidence for this is not without blemishes.

Moreover, the adoption of risk management practices as part of FMIP has lessened central controls and prescriptive regulations, increasing the possibility of fraud and mismanagement, which remain essential dimensions of public accountability within parliamentary scrutiny processes.

More generally in the context of parliamentary accountability, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration concluded:

Public servants are accountable to Parliament, but in a less direct sense. They have accountability obligations in terms of keeping Parliament informed and assisting parliamentary scrutiny of public administration and expenditure.

The power of parliamentary scrutiny extends beyond having public servants report on their activities. The ability of parliamentary scrutiny processes to expose unethical, inefficient and ineffective public administration adds additional dimension to the accountability of public servants to the Parliament.

The picture in relation to what accountability covers is also complex. Parliament has a wide interest in accountability ranging from issues concerned with the process and probity of government administration and spending, to the efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness of government policies and programs.

c) governance effectiveness

To improve the quality public administration in Australia the federal government has focused over the last ten years on achieving:

d) rule-making

e) public management transfer

f) crisis management

g) management of technology transfer

h) rationalizing administrative procedures

i) cross subsidization

j) steering capabilities

k) other

 

 

Units in government conduct research and analysis and how they interact with administrative units, especially the services they offer administrative units

a) planning units

b) finance units

c) management consultancy units

d) personnel units

e) policy analysis units

f) cabinet level/ministerial level units

g) Prime minister's/President's office

h) Commissions or Boards

i) R&D centres

j) administrative reform unit

k) academies/institutes

l) economic units

m) accounting units

n) coordination units

o) representative bodies

p) think tanks

q) other

 

 

Describe your future projections of activities in the area of administrative reform/development/change. For each projection/prediction, indicate the following, indicate what you imagine or estimate would be the:

a) rate of change

b) direction of change

c) content of change

d) agent(s) of change

e) amount of change

f) level(s) of government involved

g) amount of continuity involved

h) assumptions implied in the prediction

i) other elements of the change