Editorial: where is the ministerial accountability?

By Chris Johnson

July 9, 2020

parliament house victoria
Operation Watts was the inquiry into branch stacking and misuse of public funds in the Victorian elections. (Image: Adobe/FiledIMAGE)

A senior public servant in Victoria is now stripped of her responsibilities as the state struggles to come to terms with the fact that it let the deadly coronavirus back out of the bag.

Just what went wrong to allow COVID-19 to run rampant again in Victoria is the subject of a judicial review, and that’s a good move. But the question remains: where is the ministerial accountability in this sorry saga?

Melissa Skilbeck, deputy secretary of the regulation, health protection, and emergency management division in the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, will retain her role but have her responsibilities reassigned.

The judicial review might determine the justice in that decision.

But The Mandarin sincerely hopes that it is not solely within the ranks of the public service where the Victorian government looks to lay blame.

The government itself is at fault and some form of ministerial heads should roll.

That’s the system by which we run our democracy and it’s called “the buck stops with the minister”.

Too often, scapegoats are sought from inside the senior ranks of the public sector.

The Mandarin is not implying that such is the case with the deputy secretary. We don’t know. The review might shed should light on that and everyone should step back and let it run its course without interference or commentary.

What we are saying, is – completely separate from the review and its eventual findings – that a Victorian government minister needs to step up now and take some responsibility for letting the state down and for jeopardising the rest of Australia.

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