I refer to the article: "Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott says the current jobs hierarchy could be slimmed down", canberratimes.com.au, February 14.
This is a great example of missing the elephants in the room.
There are at least four of them.
Firstly, rather than slimming down the structure, there needs to be proper consideration of removing the significant disparity in pay for work that is classified at the same level.
That disparity has created confusion around work value.
It also leads to the misapplication of classifications to get around the pay disparity.
Secondly, deal with the enormous amount of work that has been outsourced to consultancies, contractors and labour hire.
This is generally bad value.
It is driven by profit rather than public interest, and is unnecessarily conflicted.
It is unfortunately also often the case this provides additional cover for Ministers to not accept responsibility for policy and program advice and implementation.
These are matters for which they should be ultimately accountable.
Thirdly, rather than focusing on whether you should have an eight or a seven level classification structure, make sure you have an ongoing workforce that is not constrained by arbitrary staffing caps.
That simply forces agencies to hide work in labour hire and contractor arrangements.
Finally, APS leadership has had it's integrity and credibility damaged by the recent behaviour of the Secretary of PMC.
No amount of classification structure tinkering will matter when the top level of that structure has lost credibility.
David Smith, Member for Bean
How do we treat Namadgi after fire? The Canberra Times journalist Steve Evans (Wednesday, February 12, p4) presented two conflicting views over long-term management.
I suggest there is a compelling argument to consider the skilled firestick management which made Australia look like an English gentleman's park according to the early explorers and settlers.
Professor Bill Gammage's book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia should be compulsory reading for all those responsible for the long term management of our National Parks.
The result would be a win for ecologists, a win for the farmers adjoining Namadgi but most importantly it would be a win for our beautiful country, its flora, fauna and people.
Kate Walker, Yass, NSW
Who thought this up?
Why is the issuing of visas to be handed over to private enterprise? This is surely a matter of "national security". This mantra is invoked by Scomo and Dutton in everything from allowing oil exploration in the Bight to refusing to explain how they managed to convince Jacqui Lambie into supporting their bill.
John Howard famously said during the Children Overboard Affair (which was a lie): "We will decide who comes to this country". Apparently those decisions will now be made by a company whose bottom line is undoubtedly profit.
I would have thought that these decisions were better made by public servants subject to strict rules of conduct and obliged to follow strict guidelines.
How can a private company access police records to screen out criminal elements?
We must find some way of banning donations to political parties. If candidates had to run cake stalls and chook raffles to raise funds we might end up with "true believers" who want to serve the nation rather than a gaggle of greedy sods after money and power.
Barbara Fisher, Cook
The right thing to do
Your editorial on President Trump's impeachment trial ("Trump Is On Track For His Second Term", Canberra Times, February 7, p.14) expresses bewilderment about why Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues "devoted so much blood and treasure to a lost cause".
It isn't hard to fathom. Impeachment is the only provision in the US constitution through which Congress can hold the President accountable for his actions. Certainly, it is accountability of the last resort. It is also accountability of the first resort. And it is the only resort.
The fact there was no prospect of conviction was obvious to all given the current rigid partisanship in the US Congress. Nancy Pelosi, originally very reluctant to go ahead with impeachment, changed her position only after the Ukraine issue surfaced.
Impeachment is the only provision in the US constitution through which Congress can hold the President accountable for his actions.John Hart, Griffith
There would have been even greater bewilderment had Congress chosen not to exercise any constitutional accountability.
Constitutional accountability in the US is meaningless unless there are people in positions of power willing to enforce it. Speaker Pelosi did that and did it effectively given the odds stacked against her.
It wasn't a lost cause. The lost cause would have been not proceeding with the impeachment process.
John Hart, Griffith
Good news bears
I am desperate for good news and determined to find it. So here goes.
Firstly, how good is fresh air that is cool, clear and flows in through an open window? Every breath is pure joy.
How good is it to find a place in Fyshwick that recycles renovated white goods with a three month warranty? The manager says he employs four mechanics to fix them, a number of staff to clean them, and his own delivery and installation people. I just basked in the delight at the job creation and at being able to recycle my worn-out washing machine.
And finally, we have a team of friendly neighbours who keep a big bath of water filled in our local park for the thirsty birds.
I know it's not much but I need to lap up these three good things. They might even re-energise me to push forward against the juggernaut of climate change inaction.
Jill Sutton, Watson
Angus must go
The doctrine of ministerial responsibility dictates ministers must take full responsibility for the acts of their staff and their department. This is a fundamental part of our Westminster system.
Angus Taylor must take full responsibility for presenting forged documents in Parliament. We cannot accept, and Parliament cannot accept, him saying "he didn't know" or "he didn't personally forge them". He cannot shrug off that responsibility. This was not the result of a parliamentary committee or something protected by Cabinet secrecy.
This was an obviously falsified document he tabled as real in Parliament and then passed on to the media.
His failure to resign, and the Prime Minister's defence of his actions, shows the Coalition cares more about maintaining their wafer thin majority than integrity, dignity or honesty.
Paul Wayper, Cook
A high price
The AFP's findings that Angus Taylor's presentation of falsified documents to the Parliament had a "low level of harm" are crass and unethical.
Civil liberties and the integrity of our judicial system have been degraded as a result.
The information was apparently taken from a public web site, altered to suit party political objectives and then presented as fact.
So, was the information provided to the Parliament fabricated? Yes. Did Taylor present the information to the Parliament as fact? Yes. As the minister is Taylor responsible for both his actions and those of his staff? Yes.
It would seem that to the average Australian truth in Parliament is irrelevant. You can say and do as you wish.
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan
Sanders scares Trump
Your editorial (February 7, 2020) said the US Democrats had "no obvious candidate in a disappointingly weak field of potential nominees with the capacity to give the President a run for his money".
There is Democrat nominee Trump genuinely fears. His name is Bernie Sanders. The Democrats, nonetheless, will do everything they can to deny Sanders the nomination (witness the staged debacle that has come out of Iowa). They would prefer a continuation of Trump to someone like Sanders, who could genuinely address the overt corruption that continues to paralyse both Democrat and Republican politics.
Terry Gibson, Kambah
Name and shame
The wailing of those who complain industrial law is too complicated and that there is far too much red tape are disingenuous.
Employers who break the law and underpay their staff, are also seeking to achieve a competitive advantage over the honest employers in their industry.
If honest employers can meet the legal and administrative obligations then there cannot be any excuse for others not to do so. Recalcitrant employers should attract the contempt of law abiding employers and the general public. Heavy fines, naming and shaming may go some way to providing the antidote to such cheating.
Bill Thompson, Scullin
TO THE POINT
CANBERRANS KNOW BEST
Great cartoon on the "Canberra bubble" and "weather board and iron" (February 17, p15). I think the real bubbles are in rural Australia. I hazard a good guess that citizens of Canberra are much better informed on issues, importantly on national and global matters, than the people in the land of weatherboard and iron.
Rod Holesgrove, Crace
ONE TO WATCH
Will all ACT Liberal claims about ALP expenditure ahead of this year's election be Taylor-made?
Keith Hill, Isaacs
If MP's recently stated sympathy and tributes to the bushfire victims and local heroes, and calls for debate and action, are genuine, then they should take "Question Time" to the people. What about the Cobargo Pub, the the Malua Bay Bowling Club or any of the overworked relief centres in the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shires? I'll provide the tomatoes.
John Mungoven, Stirling
A good "Sir Humphrey" would never tell a lie. That said, they might indulge in what Winston Churchill referred to as "a terminological inexactitude".
Roger Quarterman, Campbell
Senator Canavan has opened a can of worms by declaring: "Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system; they only turn up to work when they want to". This from someone who might turn up to work on 57 days this year, in 15 weeks, with 37 weeks' paid holidays. Unbelievable.
John Collis, Narrabundah
A SLOW DEATH
Thou shalt not kill. Meaning? Thou shalt not deprive a person of life. Refugees without hope are being deprived of life. Think about it.
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
ANOTHER COP OUT
So, instead of taking responsibility for the sports rorts Bridget McKenzie blamed an unnamed adviser for keeping the spreadsheet from her. Now the unnamed adviser has to take the rap. Doesn't the buck stop with you, Senator? Who runs your office, you or your staff?
Ann Cooper, Wanniassa
AN EPIC TALE
The sports grants saga is becoming Gwen Meredith-esque (Blue Hills).
M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
Richard Mulgan's article: "Scott Morrison's APS shake-up reveals unabated hostility towards the bureaucracy" (canberratimes.com.au, February 4) concludes: "Casting the public service in the role of a recalcitrant workforce that needs to be kept on short rations and regularly chastised is a recipe for third-rate government". Include the rejection of inconvenient expert advice and you have this awful government.
Richard Johnston, Kingston
TWO EDGED SWORD
Phil Nicolls (Letters, February 17) objects to Senator Anne Ruston's claim any increase in Newstart would be wasted on drugs and alcohol. He is missing an opportunity here. If we embrace Senator Ruston's argument wouldn't that mean we would never have to give our politicians a pay rise again?
Greg Pinder, Charnwood
Email: email@example.com. Send from the message field, not as an attachment. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 or fewer words. References to The Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).
To send a letter via the online form, click or touch here.