Subscriber • Opinion

Scrutiny can be burdensome, but it's an important part of a public servant's job

By Russell Ayres, Wendy Jarvie, Trish Mercer
Updated December 10 2021 - 12:50am, first published December 9 2021 - 5:00pm
Attorney-General Michaelia Cash during Senate estimates. Picture Sitthixay Ditthavong

As public servants, we were constantly explaining ourselves. That is what it means to be accountable. We reported "up the line" to our superiors and ultimately our minister(s), to the Australian National Audit Office when they came to check how we were running programs and developing policy, to the Ombudsman when someone objected to our decisions or actions, to various tribunals and courts who wanted to be sure we were not stepping outside our legal authority, to parliamentary committees when we appeared before them or answered questions on notice. We explained ourselves to citizens and to clients, to businesses and to community groups, to other governments. We explained in stakeholder forums, in correspondence, in responding to FOI requests, in annual reports. The list is endless.

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