Opinion: A ballooning public service has the perks but no job satisfaction

Allison Adani*, The Sunday Mail (Qld) July 7, 2018 10
CAMPBELL Newman made a fatal error when he sacked 14,000 Queensland public servants.

It really should’ve been at least five times that number.

His bold attempt to save the Queensland taxpayers billions and to sharpen frontline government services by eliminating a quagmire of unnecessary red tape in middle management failed miserably.

But never fear. Many of those clowns are now back at the public circus on hefty contracts (with their previous redundancy safely tucked away in a term deposit).
Alternatively, they’ve happily moved on to brighter horizons and been duly replaced (almost three-fold) by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.

How do I know? Because as a lowly ranked public servant I have to deal with the frustration of that increasingly inefficient, bloated, empowered and entitled middle management every moment of every workday.

Former premier Campbell Newman’s bold attempt to save taxpayers billions failed and the public service is now packed with an increasingly inefficient, bloated, empowered and entitled middle management. Picture: AAP/Darren England

Newman’s noble attempts unfortunately created a voting bloc of angry left-leaning union-fuelled sycophants who carry out the bidding of whatever bumbling, stumbling, mumbling minister they dutifully work under.

Now no Queensland politician of any stripe would dare go anywhere near the over 220,000-strong public circus or suggest “savings” or “efficiencies”.
Queensland has unconsciously handed over control to the unions who are the actual string-pullers of state government.

A risk-averse, gutless government has resulted in a nil-risk public service full of yay-saying nodding dogs.

You can catch us every weekday morning marching in perfect stride, three abreast along George or Albert streets in corporate dress and running shoes.

We disappear into our office fortresses as we proudly don our government IDs complete with PC rainbow-coloured lanyards (we are instructed not to wear ID in public lest we be accosted by kidnappers or terrorists).

The glass security doors glide open as we obsequiously submit to another day of self-perpetuating chaos. Picture: Supplied

The glass security doors glide open as we obsequiously submit to another day of self-perpetuating chaos.

At our designer stand up desk bubble, we feel safe in the knowledge that our jobs are secure and our superannuation is accruing exponentially.

All of this while Roma burns; (or any other town outside of the southeast corner actually).

A rigorous regime of learnt helplessness trains us to dutifully close our eyes to an increasingly toxic culture where bullying by workplace sociopaths is rewarded by promotion and plaudits by the powerful.

We amuse ourselves with almost daily morning teas in our “pods”, serving up tasteless gluten-free fare so the vegans and coeliacs are catered for above all others (not that they ever actually lower their exacting standards to indulge themselves).

Within an apparently “caring, equitable, inclusive” environment we have an officially sanctioned, incredibly worthy, ultra-PC “cause of the week”.

It is always front of mind courtesy of a propagandist barrage of emails, posters, screensavers and foyer displays (complete with free stuff like pens, notepads and lollies).

Apparently, the biggest blight on the public circus landscape are white, middle-aged males who are treated with increasing disdain.

Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad. There’s lots of talk about “girl power”. Picture: Peter Wallis

This endemic attitude is perpetrated by Annastacia’s “petticoat government” (as my dear old Dad would say).

Now at less than 35 per cent of the public circus, men have targets on their foreheads, courtesy of a recruitment process that is obviously skewed against them (unless they exhibit some obvious diversity or a serious disability).

There is lots of talk about “Girl Power” and high-fives around the corridors as fan-girls celebrate the latest feats of valour by Annastacia, Jackie, Grace (x2), Yvette and the lolly pink-lipsticked dragon-slayer and Minister for Everything (or nothing) – Kate Jones.

Of course, those of us girls who refuse to join in on the crowing and cooing are ostracised from the all-important Friday afternoon “woine toime” at the pub where all the real business (i.e. gossip) gets done.

Management in cahoots with HR, design selection criteria that renders it virtually impossible for anyone other than insiders or worded-up mates and relatives to get a look-in on jobs. The process requires a “Da Vinci Code” style of specific language and buzzwords that only allows for mindless box-ticking by cobbled-together selection panels.

The Government points proudly to its “Working for Queensland” survey which apparently shows all of us in the circus delighted with our lot in life.


“The lolly pink-lipsticked dragon-slayer and Minister for Everything (or nothing) Kate Jones”. Picture: Brendan Radke

The problem is that everyone is terrified to speak out truthfully as the mandatory questions in the supposedly anonymous survey easily identify individual respondents.

The “code of conduct” with its very strict rules and regulations is used as a big stick by management, effectively smothering any acting or thinking creatively or offering innovative solutions to Queensland’s increasingly complex problems.

This all helps breed an environment of mistrust, backstabbing and an obsession with holidays, retirement plans or the golden public circus panacea – sick leave.
I’ve taken to collecting “early retirement as a result of sickness” stories with an astonishing list of excuses. (Getting taken away in an ambulance from anywhere near George, William or Albert streets is advised for maximum dramatic effect).

Depression and anxiety are rife, but with little choice and fear of the non-cloistered world outside we stay put, hating our jobs, hating our colleagues and hating our lives.
So what does someone like me do? Hope for a change of government in Queensland? (I wish!) Stay and descend further and further into the malaise? Or just leave?
Well, no. The wages are good, the super is great and besides, I’d miss all those yummy morning teas.

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