The Queensland public sector: Assessing the Goss government reforms

Cork, Julie (2005). The Queensland public sector: Assessing the Goss government reforms MPhil Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Cork, Julie
Thesis Title The Queensland public sector: Assessing the Goss government reforms
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2005
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Renfrow, P.
Total pages 162
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects 360202 Public Administration
L
750605 Public services management
Formatted abstract This thesis examines the effectiveness of the Goss Government's program to reform the management of the Queensland Public Sector (QPS) and argues that, unlike comparable reform programs initiated in other Australian public sectors, the impact of the Goss program was limited. To explore this argument, the thesis examines not only the content of the reform program and the process by which it was implemented, but also the history of reform in the QPS and the demographic profile of staff of the QPS. It concludes that explanation of the limited impact of the reform program lies in the combined impact of all of these factors.

In examining the history of reform in the QPS, the study particularly scrutinises the contribution of the 1988 Savage Review, which is generally considered to have been an effective and timely review, and argues that it was narrow in focus and limited in its rigour. Whilst acknowledging the success of the 1989 Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry in exposing and addressing institutional corruption and highlighting areas of concern in relation to public sector management, it argues that the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry did not provide (nor intend to provide) a blueprint for public sector management reform. It notes that as a result of this history, the reform program of the Goss Government was grafted onto a public sector both unaccustomed to change and ill equipped to handle it.

After determining that available frameworks for evaluating administrative reform are inadequate, the study constructs a framework for this purpose. The constructed framework enables consideration of both the content of reform programs and the processes utilized in their implementation. The study notes that whilst the content of the Goss Government reform package resembled that of many of the other reform packages introduced in other jurisdictions in Australia in the preceding 20 years, it had some significant differences. One was the failure to restate and clarify the philosophical basis on which the public service operates. Another was the omission of reforms to achieve participative management practices. The omission of a strategy to specifically address the existing authoritarian management style was also a mistake. The study argues that these omissions distinguish the Goss reform initiatives quite sharply from those that had been implemented in jurisdictions elsewhere and as a result the reform program was introduced to a sector in which the way management was practised was not itself the subject of specific scrutiny or reform and the prevailing traditional authoritarian management style was not directly challenged.

In its examination of the processes used to introduce the reforms the study contends that the reform program failed to reap the available benefits as insufficient account was taken of the lack of contemporary management skills on the part of both the managers and union representatives, and that these skills were necessary for the successful implementation of some of the reforms, including job redesign and workplace restructure. It observes that the early experiences of staff participation in workplace decisions ended in union anger and staff disaffection.

Examination of the demographic profile of QPS staff identifies that there are many similarities between public sector staff in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, but that there are also some significant differences. A notable difference between QPS staff in the country and city is identified. Compared to their city counterparts, QPS staff in the country are less mobile, are more likely to have no formal qualifications, are less likely to have a degree or higher qualification, and are more likely to be older. These differences are not present in other state jurisdictions. The study argues that implementation of the reform program should ideally have taken account of these differences and that there is no evidence that it did. Nonetheless the study concludes that the demographic similarities between QPS staff and staff in other jurisdictions are more significant than the demographic differences and that demographic differences do not provide an explanation of the different reform outcomes of the Goss reforms in the Queensland Public Sector.

The study concludes by posing questions about the approach of all major political parties to systemic public sector reform in Queensland. It suggests areas of further research and recommends that a possible way forward is a bi-partisan approach to further public sector reform.
Keyword Civil service reform -- Queensland.
Public administration -- Queensland.
Administrative agencies -- Queensland.
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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