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Possum Comitatus

Mar 2, 2010

Voices of Reason

Possum on the insulation scheme: As the Senate committee into t

Possum on the insulation scheme:

As the Senate committee into this demonstrated clearly (transcript available here soon),when this program was being developed by the Dept, they went out and collected a substantial array of information and policy advice to assist not only the Minister in the rollout of the program, but also to assist with the department’s own preparedness for implementing the policy. The department undertook internal research, they consulted widely with industry and other relevant government organisations like the ACCC and departments like DEEWR. They also engaged with third party specialists – one of which was Minter Ellison.

The department then collated and condensed this wide array of information from a wider array of sources into a set of advice briefs for the Minister. You see, that’s actually what government departments do. From the idiot commentary in the press you’d think that Departments should be abolished since the Minister apparently does everything – although as Bernard Keane regularly points out in Crikey, journalists failing Public Service Operations 101 is neither new nor irregular.

The Minter Ellison report was but one, small piece of info that went into this mix that made up the advice the Department provided to Garrett.

Gerard Henderson on the counter-terrorism white paper:

The sensible approach for the opposition to adopt was to welcome the release of the white paper and perhaps make some marginal criticisms. But this is not what occurred. The Liberal shadow parliamentary secretary Simon Birmingham declared that “the greatest threat to the safety of many Australian families over the last 12 months has been the home insulation program and Peter Garrett’s mismanagement of it”.

This was a smart point – but no more than that. No government should be expected to cease normal activities on account of a specific problem. Then Abbott weighed into the attack on behalf of the opposition. On the basis of a media report, he alleged that the Prime Minister and his office “have deliberately sexed-up a national security document” and went on to claim that Rudd had “been caught red-handed playing politics with national security”.

This is an exaggeration. It turned out that the government received different sets of advice. The intelligence and security organisations, which did the inaugural draft, stressed the rise in Australia of home-grown jihadist terrorism. Apparently this wording was watered down by officials in the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Attorney-General departments. The Rudd government preferred the advice of those officials who deal directly with the terrorist threat.

There is nothing improper in such behaviour.

A meeting of the minds. But will that stop the opposition and many in the media from pretending (or wrongly assuming) that every individual piece of advice the government receives is somehow pivotal and must be acted upon – even when it might be contradicted by other advice?

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5 thoughts on “Voices of Reason

  1. Sancho

    Henderson has been consistent on such matters. For example, when Alexander Downer was informed by Canadian officials that the AWB was bribing Saddam Hussein, but received conflicting information from the thoroughly independent AWB, Henderson rightly concluded that Downer was correct to ask no further questions, stick his fingers in his ears and repeat “everything’s fine, everything’s fine”.

  2. monkeywrench

    Jeez, their mothers couldn’t tell ’em apart!

  3. Grog

    I await Possum’s weekly Media Watch Possum 😆

  4. Possum Comitatus

    You Pure Poison lot are off my Christmas list.

  5. Keith is not my real name

    Hahaha @ Possum 😀