O’Loughlin: government benchmarking must continue

By Jason Whittaker

Wednesday August 13, 2014

Mary Ann O’Loughlin, the former public sector leader on inter-governmental reform, reckons “competitive federalism” and “co-operative federalism” aren’t mutually exclusive. And she’s urging governments to continue benchmarking performance.

O’Loughlin, a former adviser to prime minister Paul Keating and senior Commonwealth bureaucrat, was executive councillor and head of the secretariat of the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council before it was disbanded by the Abbott government on June 30. Speaking to The Mandarin, she’s promoted the work of the council in “putting some pressure on government to perform” and welcomed Abbott’s review of federalism arrangements.

“The council’s very pleased that these issues are going to be included in the white paper consideration. These issues aren’t going away,” she said.

“Their white paper terms of reference are clear that they’re going to be looking at accountability for performance and delivering outcomes. They’re going to be looking at transparency and performance reporting. So we support the continuation of those sorts of arrangements.”

The government has said the role of the COAG Reform Council — monitoring agreements between governments on goals in health, education and indigenous disadvantage — can be handled by individual departments. “We would hope that in some form those arrangements would continue,” O’Loughlin said.

O’Loughlin says the best policy result comes from governments working together with some competitive tension on reform. The Prime Minister has signalled a shift away from the collaborative model of government agreements under Labor.

More at The MandarinMary Ann O’Loughlin on federalism and the demands of public service

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