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Your views: on life in the public service, and electoral boundaries

Reader contributions

Today, a reader gives their view from inside the public service, and another says electoral fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

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Commenting on the story: “The whole place is a joke”: Public servants tell of bullying, nepotism

While much of the findings and the story from Lander and ICAC are about entrenched public servants, it fails to take into account the large numbers of ‘casualised’ workers, who through no fault of their own are only being given three or six month contracts (a year is rare nowadays), while executive positions are offered in the 3 to 5 year range.

And when those executives can’t do the job they get paid out obscene amounts on their contracts for being underperformers.

How is this fair on us, the taxpayers footing the bill for their incompetence?

I’ve worked for various departments, and would have to say my experience at one in particular was probably the worst in terms of ‘jobs for the in-crowd’.

It was a case of elevations to top jobs and then appointments to others in their group, whether they had the right qualifications or not, and anyone who had a different opinion got sidelined and vilified.

They brought in managers who were mates, who then got rid of anyone who didn’t fit their culture, which was all about pressure, overt bullying, unrealistic expectations, all so they could shaft you.

And the problem is that none of us as contractors could say or do anything because they had their jobs and there was no scrutiny of their behaviour.

It didn’t matter how hard you worked or the quality of work you put out, it was often insinuated that you weren’t performing or didn’t fit with the team, which caused a lot of angst and mental stress.

There is so much going on behind the scenes and the perpetrators of so much harm and organisational dysfunction escape any sanction for their actions, and it makes me both sad and angry.

 The lip service the public sector pays to ‘values’ and high moral ground and age and gender equality is just so much tripe in practice.

The people who work hardest – the short-termers – are never recognised for their contribution.

The long-termers who are safe in the roles openly rort the system – and there is no measuring of anyone’s actual performance or value in the work. And if you dare call anyone on bad behaviour your contract isn’t renewed.

This creates a constant tension and lack of any morale in the workplace, because of the glaring divide between those who are entitled to their jobs (with little or no justification) and those who are battling, against incredible odds and pressure, to keep theirs, for however long they can.

How can any system function with this sort of discrepancy at its heart? – Name supplied

 Commenting on the opinion piece: SA’s electoral fairness under threat

Morry Bailes cannot go unanswered. And particularly as Morry’s solution appears to be to have electorates of differing populations.

In terms of the so-called ‘fairness’ clause, the 2018 State election result was correct with the Liberal Party with 52% of the 2-party preferred vote also winning government – the first time this had happened since the 2006 State election when the ALP achieved both.

However, in 2006, all electorates were inside the 10% margin.  By contrast at the 2018 election, the electorate of Elizabeth was 25% bigger than the electorate of Flinders, with both being outside the 10% margin at the time of the election.

The ‘fairness’ clause, introduced following the 1989 State election has really only produced a ‘correct’ result three times out of seven.

The Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission has always had an impossible task to achieve the ‘fairness’ clause and must be relieved that this has now been repealed.

At fault has been South Australia’s system of single-member electorates, with many of these being safe seats regardless of how the boundaries are drawn, and election campaigning concentrated in less than a third of the electorates.

But rather than trying to manipulate boundaries with fairness clauses or trying to make some electorates smaller in terms of number of voters, what is really required is a change from single-member electorates to multi-member electorates and the Hare-Clark method of proportional representation as used in Tasmania.

The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia believes that only then will South Australia have electoral fairness, with political parties winning their rightful number of seats based on the votes they received and many more voters finding their votes effectively electing the MPs of their choice. – Deane Crabb, Electoral Reform Society of SA

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