The ACT Government isn’t so much corrupt as it is immoral – Senior ACT Public Servant
I had lunch in Canberra yesterday with Paul, a former colleague from my public service days, who had naively made the transition from the Australian Public Service (APS) to the ACT Public Service (ACTPS) a few years ago. Over the course of an extended and convivial lunch we happened upon the topic of the politicisation of the APS and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), both favourite topics of Blak and Black, as most of my former colleagues know only too well.
While Paul, who volunteers his spare time as a ‘responsible adult’ to sit in on interviews by the AFP in Canberra when unrepresented minors are involved, argues vehemently that all the AFP officers he has come into contact with have been “decent people”, he doesn’t hold the same high regard for the ACTPS and the ACT Government, which to my amazement he describes as immoral rather than corrupt. To my mind this is hair splitting because the immorality Paul was describing amounts without question to corruption, but then again I guess most of us want to think well of our employers, even if that employer is the inheritor of the principles espoused by Der Fuhrer in Mein Kampf. Yes I know, that he was just plain old Adolf Hitler when he penned that tome of hate, but we can’t let too many ‘split hairs’ get in the way of a good story.
What is interesting about Paul in terms of the issues that are of concern to Blak and Black is that he witnessed many of the underhand dealings perpetrated by the ACT Government in order to derail the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue’s application to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (“HREOC”), alleging that the ACTPS had engaged in conduct contrary to the provisions of the Commonwealth of Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation. In fact, a few months prior to the assault committed by the identified ACT Department of Treasury employee at the Waldorf Café against Australia’s most senior Aboriginal Bank Executive, the same identified ACT Department of Treasury employee had verbally assaulted Paul twice during work hours on ACTPS property. In the first of these incidents Paul’s assailant said, “we’re going to get your boong mate Marky”. Paul’s “boong mate” is the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue and the “we’re going to get” is a clear reference to the fit-up the former Commissioner alleges was perpetrated against him by the ACTPS and the AFP.
Perhaps more interesting are the facts that the identified ACT Department of Treasury employee involved in the assaults on Paul and the assault at the Waldorf is the same person who wrote the letter to the Chief Executive of ACT Treasury, which the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office described as being “offensive and blatantly discriminatory”, who wrote to Ernst and Young (EY) and obtained by fraud access to the former Commissioner’s EY personnel file, and who was the subject of the former Commissioners complaint to HEROC which the ACTPS went to great lengths to derail. These are some of the actions undertaken by the ACTPS and ACT Government which has caused Paul to form the view the ACTPS is immoral.
ACTPS double standards – all is black and white
The other topic of discussion over lunch was to do with a clear example of double standards amounting to racism perpetrated by the ACTPS. The former Commissioner, prior to his dismissal from the ACTPS, was the subject of a grievance lodged by the aforementioned identified ACT Department of Treasury employee alleging bullying, albeit spelt “bulling” (which I believe has something to do with castrating bulls) in the documents. Interesting that the allegation of bullying arose almost simultaneously with the Deputy Chief Executive of ACT Treasury signing a Terms of Reference (ToR) for an investigation into the aforementioned identified ACT Department of Treasury employee for fraud; the ToR was discussed at some length in the ACT Magistrates Court under cross-examination by Barrister Sean Grant in March 2006.
The double standards and racism are to do with more recent allegations of bullying against another ACTPS Director, Mr. David Butt. Before I go on to discuss the difference in treatment between the two cases, I would like to state publically that I don’t believe that Mr. Butt has ever had a case to answer regarding these allegations, nor do I believe that he has done anything wrong.
To begin with, Mr. Butt is a white Australian of European extraction. The former Commissioner is an Indigenous Australian of Wiradjuri extraction. At the time the allegations were made against both men they were each Directors within the ACTPS. When the allegations were first made against the Commissioner they were immediately referred to the Public Service Commission for investigation. This was despite the fact the ACTPS were advised on numerous occasions that the aforementioned identified ACT Department of Treasury employee was not entitled to lodge a grievance because he had contracted out of the grievance provisions of the Public Service Act under the terms of his Australian Workplace Agreement (“AWA”). This fact was ignored by the ACTPS until almost the very end. The Wiradjuri man was subject to twelve months of harassment by the ACTPS and the Public Service Commission on the basis of material they did not have the power to investigate. In responding to this ultra vires investigation, he incurred over $30,000.00 in legal and associated costs, was forced to seek treatment from a registered psychologist because of the racism and harassment he was being subjected to and was dismissed from the ACTPS on the basis of a fit-up when he eventually decided to escalate the matters to HREOC.
The white Australian on the other hand, when similar accusations were made against him, was sent home on full pay and benefits, without the need to respond to any formal investigation. He was recalled to work eleven months later and given another director’s position within the ACTPS, bringing the allegations of bullying against him to an end. It makes for an interesting comparison when one considers the difference in treatment afforded the white Australian versus the Aboriginal Australian by the ACTPS.
Next time people start arguing that Aborigines are nothing more than a pack of lazy wingers, it might be worth giving some thought to the difference in treatment meted out to the Aboriginal Australian versus the European Australian by the ACTPS and think – do Aborigines have a point, are they treated differently and less favourably than other Australians? This is a question I will leave to the individual to ponder.
Update on the assault at the Waldorf Café
The Aboriginal female victim of the assault at the Waldorf Café was seated next to Mr Brendan Smyth, Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, at a function last Friday. In response to his question “how are you going” the victim advised Mr Smyth that she was in the process of taking the issue of her assault at the Waldorf Cafe to the United Nations. The ACT Government can no longer sit back and claim ignorance of the issues. Oh what a tangled web, indeed!