Edited by Shaun Goldfinch and Joe L. Wallis
Chapter 10: New Public Management in Australia
Marian Simms Why does public sector reform matter? It is argued in this chapter that a proper understanding of the role and place of the public sector has been an integral part of the democratization process in the Westminster democracies and will continue to be so linked. Modern Westminster theory has long recognized that the public service must not only be independent, but also be seen to be free of ‘political interest’ and ‘patronage’, and be ‘subordinate’ to the minister (who in turn is responsible to the Parliament). This chapter references the Northcote–Trevelyan Report (1854) as a foundational document for Westminster-style parliamentary systems. Needless to say times have changed over the past 150 years, yet like a Constitution the report still figures in current academic and political debates and was recently utilised by the former British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair (2004) to defend a plan of action making the public sector more ‘relevant’ by removing any job security and by championing public service partnerships with the private, local and voluntary sectors in a problemsolving approach. What Blair fails to note is the close historic and ideological connection between liberal democracy and the desire and need to promote a Civil Service open to all talents. The ideas of meritocracy and equality of opportunity also flourished as part of the climate of liberalism. As a foundational document the report functions as an ideal type and was not fully implemented in Britain until 1914 (the Home Office and the Foreign Office...
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