Jobs for the boys

I noticed this story from News Ltd today: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/jobs-given-to-labor-mates/story-e6frfkp9-1226625049183

It’s called “36 jobs given to Labor mates” and lists various appointments of 29 named people to different roles. One of the entries on the list is for a job Steve Bracks was “considered” for, and one entry, for Mike Rann, doesn’t list any job at all.

The article linking to the list states “News Limited does not suggest that any of the appointments were made without merit,” but the implication is that each person got their job because of their association (however tenuous some of them are) with Labor.

The list fails to refer to anyone’s qualifications or experience; it just refers to their (real or assumed) ALP connection.

Strikingly, the list fails to refer to any Liberal or National party associates’ appointments, by either Labor or conservative governments.

The argument is a facile one in any event. People with merit and talent should not be ineligible for positions solely because of their political associations. Following the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, some of our domestic laws protect against discrimination on political grounds (here in Queensland, the Anti-Discrimination Act proscribes discrimination on the ground of political belief or activity in various areas).

There is nothing wrong with seeking to retain, in public life, and for the public benefit, the experience and talent of people who have served in our parliaments or other public positions. Most people who have been members of parliament, and especially those who have held ministerial positions, have worked eighty-hour weeks, have rarely had a public holiday to themselves, have been held to higher standards than most members of the community, and have often done so at their own personal cost and at a significant cost to their family life. They tend to be hard working and also to have gained significant knowledge and experience in public matters.

Lazy cynicism about politicians generally, of any persuasion, adds nothing to the coverage of politics in this country and instead legitimates and perpetuates voter disillusionment, and its natural consequence, voter disengagement.

After reading the article, I did some quick googling (or, using the article’s language, I conducted an “investigation”), and found the following persons from the conservative side of politics, each of whom has received one or more appointments, some under Labor governments, and some under conservative governments.

The facts of their appointment and of their political association, of themselves, add nothing to the question of whether they are the right person for the role, and whether they ought to have been appointed.  Each appointment should be considered on its merits. Accordingly, no entry on my list is an endorsement or a criticism of the person or the appointment concerned.

I’m sure there are more, but my list is as follows.

Peter Costello / former Howard government minister / Future Fund Board of Guardians, appted under Labor in 2009 / $96,850 per annum

Peter Costello / former Howard government minister / Qld Government Commission of Audit / $3,300 per day

Alexander Downer / former Howard government minister / UN Envoy to Cyprus, with support of the Rudd government / $?

Alexander Downer / former Howard government minister / joined the Board of Adelaide Symphony Orchestra / $?

Robert Hill / former Howard government minister / Chancellor, University of Adelaide / $?

Robert Hill / former Howard government minister / Chairman, Australian carbon trust, appointed under Rudd / $?

Brendan Nelson/ former Howard government minister / Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union, and NATO, appointed under Rudd / $?

Brendan Nelson/ former Howard government minister / Director, Australian War Memorial, appointed under Gillard / $?

Helen Coonan / former Howard government minister / trustee, Sydney Opera House Trust / $?

Amanda Vanstone / former Howard government minister / Ambassador to Italy, appointed under Rudd / $?

Michael Caltabiano / former president Qld Liberal Party, former Liberal MP and former Liberal Councillor / Director-General, Qld Dept Transport and Main Roads (since ceased) / $462,000 per annum

Chum Darvall / Liberal party donor / appointed chairman of Transgrid by NSW Liberal govt / $?

Roger Massy-Greene / Liberal party donor / appointed to the board of Networks NSW / $?

Dave Edwards / son of former Bjelke-Petersen government deputy premier Sir Llew Edwards / Director-General, Qld Dept of Employment, Economic Devt and Innovation / $462,000 per annum

Various members of the Fair Work Commission / various backgrounds with employer associations and/or Howard government statutory appointments / Commissioner and above appointments to FWC / $various

Daryl Williams / former Howard government minister / considered for various judicial posts

Tim Fischer / former Howard government minister and Deputy PM / Chairman, Tourism Australia, appointed under Howard / $?

Tim Fischer / former Howard government minister and Deputy PM / Ambassador to the Holy See, appointed under Rudd/ $?

John Herron / former Howard government minister / Ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See, appointed under Howard / $?

John Herron / former Howard government minister / Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs/ $?

John Herron / former Howard government minister / Chairman of The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation / $?

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