PSsst! Blue books sparking red faces

By The Mandarin

Wednesday May 11, 2022

Incoming government briefs are causing a few headaches across a number of agencies. (Mangostar/Adobe)

Give us a break! 

Three months after The Mandarin published a story about how APS employees could switch out public holiday leave for another day in lieu (around January 26) and a few days before the election was called (around April 25), a quiet decision was made to see that this employment clause was not applicable to three days of national observance: Australia Day, Anzac Day and the Queen’s Birthday (June 13).

The rule change does not apply to public servants working for state governments, and some of their federal cousins have raised a cynical eyebrow in response.

But if the Coalition’s move to pick the public holidays with a nationalistic bent (religious public holidays such as Easter and Christmas are still open for an employee to swap) was meant to spark a culture war, that plan has failed.

While the CPSU did not see the change coming, they aren’t running with the cause — at least for now. At most, the bureaucrats we’ve spoken to are bemused by the attempt to turn a run of their long weekends into some kind of political football.

Blue books sparking red faces

Incoming government briefs are causing a few headaches across a number of agencies as the federal election campaign gets increasingly frantic.

The source of the frustration for many is what appears to be policy-on-the-run on the Morrison government’s part.

While preparing briefs for the possibility of a returning Coalition government, existing policies and plans are being thrown out without notice, according to a number of calls received by The Mandarin.

“What we thought we were preparing an IGB for — what we were told was happening — was completely turned on its head and made redundant once the announcement was made,” one source said.

And another: “We’ve got little idea what we’re putting together because they’ve got no idea what they’re doing from one minute to the next.”

Sounds like a typical election campaign.

Enter Julia

Former Labor PM Julia Gillard has been brought in to help during the last fortnight of the election campaign to provide a character reference for Anthony Albanese in his quest to wrest the title of prime ministership from Scott Morrison.

An email sent by the Australian Labor Party’s campaign headquarters — also asking the reader to donate money to Labor’s campaign coffers — has a statement of endorsement from Gillard that says that she has known Albanese for a rather long time. 

“I have known Anthony for nearly 30 years (yes — that long!). We both look pretty different to what we did back then… but what strikes me about Anthony is what hasn’t changed. The same values of decency and integrity. The same priorities of fairness and opportunity. The same proven ability to lead and to deliver on what matters,” Gillard said. 

“During the last Labor government, Anthony had the job of getting critical legislation passed through the parliament — something he delivered on 570 times. Think of all the big reforms we did — the National Disability Insurance Scheme, better schools funding, paid parental leave — Albo got them all through.”

Prime Minister? Not me, says Fletcher

Former New South Wales Liberal premier Mike Baird fancied himself as a bit of a king-maker on the campaign trail by promoting communications minister Paul Fletcher as a future prime minister. Fletcher himself, though, told 2GB he had his mind on other matters, such as securing the votes needed in his electorate to return to parliament.

“I’m just getting on with seeking to be a strong representative for the people of Bradfield, in what is my sixth campaign to be elected,” Fletcher said.

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