Queensland Premier Palaszczuk: Investing in Merit?

seesawIf you’ve ever watched the filling of Cabinet advisor jobs after an election, you would be aghast: across all political parties, narrow networks, factional partisans, warlord loyalists, mates of mates, and the staff from the previous (losing) Government of the same Party, are usually the principal sources of political advisors.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has insisted on a new way: she’s demanded competitive, merit-based* selection: the new Government has advertised senior Ministerial advisor roles via Seek**, and Ministers were initially allowed to employ a small number of temporary staff only.

One of the advantages of the usual system is speed: a Ministerial office can be up and running in a week; one of the disadvantages of merit selection plus competition is that it can’t work very fast.

How well this innovation works in the medium and long term remains to be seen, and that will be the test of the Premier’s innovation, but some of the new Ministerial offices have been struggling to respond effectively to correspondence and phone calls, until they secure more staff.

Boding well for the long term and tending to validate the new system, I’m aware of several excellent Ministerial staffing appointments that couldn’t have been made under the old patronage system.


* See www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/P/PublicServA08.pdf, s27 onwards ( – this link is now fixed, I trust)
** It’s reported that the new Government was swamped with 5,000 applications for the various jobs.

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Posted on March 24, 2015, in Change, Democracy, Governance, Government decision-making, Government regulation, Planning, Politics, public service decision-making, Queensland, Queensland Government, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yes, this is a most commendable initiative and signals that the Premier means what she says on merit appointments and transparency. Her decision to subject Director General appointments to a transparent, merit-based process is equally laudable. Moreover, new Ministerial staff will be required to undertake a training programme during which, among other issues, they will learn much about how the doctrine of the separation of powers applies to them. All good stuff!

  2. I think it is a massive leap forward in that this will hopefully employ those with experience in the Ministerial fields and people with empathy for the ordinary elector. My one concern however is that I have noted from my many years in the public service, how the advisors would work many hours beyond their paid hours to support the Minister and to support the party. This approach may prove costly.

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