Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kevin Rudd slashes staff bill for MPs

An article in The Australian caught my eye this morning: Kevin Rudd slashes staff bill for MPs.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd has a nickname around Canberra Kevin 24/7 in recognition of the long-hours culture he has bought to the public service. It did not take long for a public spat to emerge between Rudd, the public service and unions as he pushed public servants into longer and longer hours to fit with his working style. Rudd, however, has been unapologetic indicating he had big plans and that public servants had to be prepared to work hard. In terms of people management issues, it is not hard to predict the short-medium terms impacts here - higher turnover, burn-out, sliding morale and so on. It is hard to imagine that many will be happy to see this become a permanent approach to work in the public sector, especially given the focus in recent years on work-life balance.

Today's article was focused on MPs staff and showed that here too he getting more for his money: "Kevin Rudd has slashed the cost of hiring staff for politicians by $5 million a month since taking office and has met his promise to cut ministerial staff by30 per cent". Questions are being raised, however about the quality of work that might come from a reduction in the number of advisers and increasing demands on them.

Earlier this year Dr Maria Maley from the School of Social Sciences at ANU did an interesting seminar in the ANU Political Science Program looking at the roles and activities of ministerial advisers. In identifying the distinctive roles that advisers play, Maria's work is reminiscent of Mintzberg's work which followed managers to find out what it was they actually did.

It will be interesting to see what the effect of Kevin 24/7 will have on both advisers and the public service over the next few years!

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