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Sex, drugs, wads of cash: what the public service has been missing?

Public servants groaned on Friday when they read APS Commissioner John Lloyd had brought in high flyers from the ANZ bank and other corporate heavyweights to show the bureaucracy how things are done in the real world.

APS Commissioner John Lloyd: "The APS is no exception”.
APS Commissioner John Lloyd: "The APS is no exception”. Photo: Jesse Marlow

But APS rank-and-filers shouldn't be so quick to dismiss his latest wheeze, which consists of human resources specialists from Telstra, ANZ, Australia Post and Qantas advising departmental bosses on how to run their operations more like private businesses.

Take ANZ for example. If even half of what's been alleged lately about that outfit is true, those Departmental Secretaries are in for wild wild ride.

We're thinking we could "synergize" the bank's high-rolling traders with the those other well known party animals over at the Department of Health.

OK, the Healthsters don't enjoy the wildest reputation in Canberra, but that'll change once the ANZ human resources (yes, human resources) types get them down the strip joint for a few Dom Perignons, as has been alleged to have happened at the bank..

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APS code-of-conduct issues? Well probably, but Lloyd can figure all of that out. He is the commissioner after all.

Telstra is another big hitting private player set to be soon showing the APS how it is done and the telco and the Department of Human Services has got to be a marriage made in heaven.

OK, so Telstra is a little late to the practice of leaving millions of phone users bellowing their frustration into empty air, but DHS has been at it for years with its, ahem, "management" of Centrelink's customer service effort.

Evidence is emerging that Telstra might, just might, give the federal government a run for its money in the customer service stakes, but with this set of numbers, we still feel that this is a team-up where the private outfit might have more to learn than the much-maligned APS.

Australia Post is a tricky one. There will be many departments and agencies clamouring for gems of wisdom from the outfit that turned a $122 million profit into a $222 million loss in just one year.

That result meant the the long-suffering taxpayer, which is supposed to own Australia Post, missed out on its dividend that year. But in a performance that will be all too familiar to public servants, Australia Post simply made excuses and went on the hunt for more money from their end users. These guys are public service naturals. Sign 'em up.

Public service bosses irritated by a lippy workforce that just doesn't understand what's good for it and keeps refusing to accept the wage deal they have been offered will be queueing-up for a tutorial with Qantas. Faced with escalating industrial action from a bunch of different unions, chief executive Alan Joyce simply shut down the operation, grounding the carrier's fleet and locking out the workforce.

Now, we don't know what a public service lock-out might look like, but the idea might had a more than one departmental secretary stroking their chins thoughtfully.