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Australian politics is increasingly “work for the couple” and is undermining our democracy, according to a new report by the Grattan Institute.

New Politics: The best way to put people in office shows that many government agencies, courts, and organizations have people who have been involved in politics—almost always from the party that was in government when they got the job.

It reveals that political appointees hold 21 percent of public sector positions that are well-paid, powerful, and/or popular.

Half of the board members of the Productivity Commission have political affiliation to the Coalition.

More than one in five members of public sector organizations have political connections, including businesses such as Australia Post which employ thousands of people and manage billions of dollars. In most states, it’s one in ten. In contrast, less than 2 per cent of ASX100 board members—who do very similar jobs—have a political affiliation.

The politicization is particularly evident at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), an independent expert body that reviews government decisions on everything from child support to immigration.

AAT offers all three powerful, prestigious, and well-paid positions—AAT member salaries range from about $200,000 to about $500,000 a year.

Twenty percent of the AAT’s 320 members have political ties to the government that appointed them. And the problem is getting worse.

Political appointments to the AAT have grown significantly over the past five years, and many of these people were appointed on “election” day – ahead of the 2019 and 2022 general elections.

Grattan Institute chief executive Danielle Wood said:

“It is true that not all those who are appointed to politics are without reasons, but placing people in politics can interfere with the work of government institutions, promote the culture of corruption, and prevent people from trusting government institutions.

In order to eliminate employment for married couples, the report calls on the federal and state governments to establish a system of random appointments, overseen by the Public Appointments Commissioner:

  • All government agencies, courts, and legal appointees must be announced, along with the process for selecting each office.
  • An independent panel, including the Public Appointments Commissioner, must assess the candidates against their criteria and submit a shortlist of candidates to the Cabinet.
  • The minister must appoint the winner from the shortlist.

“It’s a big problem, but it’s a simple problem,” says Ms Wood.

“If the new government is serious about improving the way politics is done in Australia, it needs to get rid of the corrupt nature of the working class – and state and local governments need to step in.”

This report is the first in the Grattan Institute’s New Politics series, examining the abuse of public office for political gain. The following reports will examine pork and the politics of the tax-paying trade.

Government procurement is used for political purposes in the United States

More information:
Say: grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uplo … lic-appointments.pdf

Presented by the Grattan Institute

To mention: Exploring—and ending—’spousal jobs’ in Australia (2022, July 18) Retrieved July 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-exploringand-endingaustralia-jobs-political- economy.html

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