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Jobs for the boys (feeding on the iron rice bowl)

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Senator Andrew Murray

Australian Democrats Accountability Spokesperson

25 March 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/176



The Australian Democrats today noted with concern the Federal Government’s appointment of Adelaide businessman Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Board.

Democrats’ Accountability spokesperson Senator Andrew Murray, said, “We acknowledge that Mr Gerard probably has the relevant experience and skills necessary to do the job. Our problem is less with the person appointed than with the method of appointment.

“We have no way of knowing if Mr Gerard was the best candidate on a shortlist of good candidates.

“The Democrats have put up amendments designed to compel Ministers to make appointments on merit on no less than 20 occasions over the last few years.

“The Coalition and Labor parties have combined to block this essential accountability reform every single time.

“Thus, the Government continues the tradition of ‘parachuting’ mates into lucrative positions on various boards and authorities—at taxpayers’ expense,” said Senator Murray.

One of the main failings of the present 'system' is that there is no empirical evidence to determine whether the public perception of jobs for the boys is correct, as these appointments are not open to sufficient public scrutiny and analysis. There are no criteria for the method of appointment.

“Wherever appointments are made to the governing organs of public authorities, the process by which these appointments are made should be transparent, accountable, open and honest—regardless of whether they be institutions set up by legislation, ‘independent’ statutory authorities or quasi-government agencies,” said Senator Murray.

“We need to regulate by law the way in which a Minister exercises the power of appointment,” concluded Senator Murray.

Note: The Democrats’ Amendments have set out general principles on appointments including but not limited to:

• Merit;

• Independent scrutiny of appointments; • Probity and

• Openness and transparency

These criteria are based on the 1995 Nolan Recommendations, successfully implemented in the United Kingdom.

For more information, please contact Grace Tan at 02 6277 5747 or 0417 174 302