Richard Mulgan and John Uhr

Discussion Paper No. 71

September 2000

ISBN: 0 7315 3414 X

ISSM: 10302190


This paper, to appear in revised form in the third volume of the series on governance in Australia editied by Glyn Davis, Michael Keading, John Wanna and Patrick Weller, examines the place of accountability in the emerging framework of Australian national governance. The aim is not to map the institutional configuration of accountability agencies in government but to examine a number of basic tensions surrounding accountability and the role of accountability agencies. Although the term 'accountability' is fundamental to governance discourse, expectations of accountability vary quite markedly with different institutional and community perspectives. This paper attempts to sort through some of the more basic tensions associated with the mixed expectations of accountability by identifying how the one term of 'accountability' is often attached to mechanisms that operate at cross-purposes, to the detriment of national governance.

The paper begins with a review of the conventional forms of accountability in Australian national governance and then examines three challenging arenas of accountability. First, the arena of open government associated with the agenda of the so-called new administrative law. This is a model of process-accountability which is frequently criticised as having become (i) too costly given the meagre range of benefits it has generated, and (ii) too burdensome on government decision-making given the rights of interested parties to stay the hand of government through round after round of administrative review. The second model is the new public management one of results-oriented accountability, which is frequently criticised as detrimental to due-process safeguards of accountability. The third line of inquiry concerns changing public expectations of accountable government.

In the Conclusion, we place these accountability developments in the increasingly international context of Australian governance. Emerging international practices, such as those involving United Nations committees with monitoring responsibilities in relation to Australian government compliance with treaty obligations, highlight growing 'accountability gaps'. We use this term to refer to gaps between the nature of information required by demanders and suppliers of accountability. We note that increasingly public officials who appear before some accountability agencies find themselves in 'accountability traps', where no amount of performance reporting can ever satisfy the demands made of their accountability obligations. We acknowledge that accountability requires more than simply the provision of information from decision-makers, but debates over the qualities of information provide us with a focus for analysing wider trends. Our basic argument is that Australian governance suffers from an increasing number of 'accountability gaps'. We are not original in drawing attention to the messy state of accountability in Australian governance. We conclude that it is unrealistic to expect anything much in the way of an 'accountability accord' until some of the more fundamental accountability gaps are bridged, on the basis of a new appreciation of the information requirements required by each set of demanders and suppliers of accountability.


Our leading question in this part relates to the conventional forms of accountability: what are the main elements of accountability as a process and what have been the main institutional means by which Australian governments have been held accountable? Our aim is to characterise the basic political architecture and the institutional design of Australian forms of accountability, to be contrasted in Part Two with a review of the external impacts of 'the system' on the public in whose name some many of the forms of accountability are constructed.

When citizens demand more accountability from government, what is it that they have in mind? Among the various processes of democracy, such as voting, lobbying, campaigning, debating and complaining, accountability is particularly associated with the processes of seeking information and redress. When public agencies or officials are 'called to account', we expect them to be required to report on their activities and to provide the reasons behind their decisions. The original, and still important, sense of being called 'to account' is the financial 'account' in which revenue and expenditure decisions are reported to the authorising body, typically Parliament. Beyond financial accounts, accountability covers a wide range of reports, written and oral, formal and informal, in which agencies and officials are subjected to scrutiny, obliged to provide information to members of public and to explain their actions.

If informing and explaining are the core processes of accountability, the core purpose is control. Accountability, at its most general, is a means for principals to ensure that their agents or delegates pursue the principals' interests rather than their own. Reporting and explaining are of little value unless they can lead ultimately to redress or improved performance. To be effective, accountability thus also requires the possibility of remedies and sanctions so that agents can be brought back on track and damage can be repaired. The line between providing information and accepting correction and control is often blurred. In many cases, the very act of reporting provides its own guarantee of remedial action as authorities are publicly shamed into making amends or changing course. For this reason, governments and their leaders are often fiercely resistant to the initial release of information, knowing that, once the relevant facts about questionable decisions are in the public realm, political damage and retribution are likely to follow.

The term 'public accountability' refers to an important range of accountability practices, covering all those types of accountability which are, for important reasons of democratic legitimacy, acted out in public with the aim of generating a public record of performance open to community examination and debate. In many cases, the requirement for public accountability is satisfied by formal production of a publicly-released account of government. This account-giving is often in the form of 'a piece of paper', whether that be in the form of a ministerial answer to a written parliamentary question, a statement of reasons from a government agency explaining a decision to an interested party, or a bureaucratic annual report for the world at large.

But at the other end of the range of possibilities one finds another form of 'public accountability' that is very different from the publicly-released paper account. This is 'public accountability' where the public is the account-demander, as in the case of bringing government to account at election time. The Australian system of responsible government rests, at least formally, on this distinctive concept of the public as agent of accountability: Australian norms of representative government are legitimated by electoral practices where voters exercise their primary role in national governance by holding governments to account. Thus, a basic form of accountability is 'public accountability' over competing political parties and candidates exercised by voters when they are called on to determine who holds office as the government of the day. The quality of governance is greatly affected by the public's performance of this accountability role. In election campaigns, governments must explain and justify their conduct and face the possible sanction of defeat. The prospect of such defeat casts a long shadow over government actions, forcing governments and their officials to adopt certain options and avoid others in the interests of avoiding electoral retribution.

This prominent presence of the public is not accidental. The Australian system of governance evolved with considerable expectations that voters could play a part in accountability. Consider a list of the formal place of accountability to the public in the constitutional order, beginning with the pre-Federation referendums; the place of popular elections for both houses in the Constitution; the original 1902 suffrage scheme with universal suffrage, with the notable exception of Indigenous Australians; the 1924 introduction of compulsory voting in the wake of earlier introduction of compulsory voter registration, both designed by the political elite to make life easier for them but now taking on a life of their own, reminding voters that they have obligations as well as rights; and the 1949 introduction of proportional representation for Senate elections, conferring on voters the right to reorder party lists of preferences consistent with concepts of party accountability to the public. This list is simply illustrative of the larger point that it is no accident that 'public accountability' looms large in Australian governance.

Accountability in this sense is inherent in the Australian constitutional order. The formal constitutional provisions were originally intended to frame a system of responsible parliamentary government. Public accountability involving voters as account-demanders can be seen in the commitments to the electoral basis of Parliament and importantly in the referendum requirements for constitutional change. Radical influence in the later nineteenth century predisposed Australians in favour of holding elections with comparative frequency and the Commonwealth constitution opted for a three-year term for the House of Representatives (six years for the Senate). Governments retain a right to go to the polls early, at a time of their own choosing, thus enabling them to escape possible accountability for actions whose effects are not yet apparent. On the other hand, more recent proposals to extend the term of Parliament to a fixed term of four years, while successful in New South Wales, were voted down for the Commonwealth in one of the constitutional referendums of 1988.

An election is a blunt as well as a powerful weapon. Many government decisions are too small and insignificant in scope to stimulate an electorally motivated reaction for decision-makers. Moreover, elections have a dual function, not only the retrospective aim of holding incumbent governments to account but also the prospective goal of choosing a government for the next period of years (Fearon 1999). The voters' interest in punishing a government may be overridden by the need to choose between alternative prospective governments. The first Howard Coalition government (1996-98), for instance, faced a number of conflict-of-interest scandals which undermined its standing with the electorate. By the time the 1998 election came round, however, voters were more focused on the campaign policy issues, such as the Goods and Services tax.

Other more internally-derived forms of accountability feature in the conventions of responsible government upon which the practical operation of the Constitution depends, as well as in the accountabilities that the High Court is expected to bring to national governance. But the political executive and the judiciary both acknowledge that the core component of public accountability rests with the rights of the people to elect a representative parliament and to hold governments directly accountable. Electoral accountability is supplemented by other mechanisms of accountability, many of which centre on the institution of Parliament. In a parliamentary system of democracy, Parliament has a dual function, both to provide a government (typically, as in Australia, through a majority in the lower house) and to subject that government to scrutiny. In this latter, scrutinising function, Parliament thus operates as an agent of accountability, holding the government to account on behalf of the public. Parliamentary elections, therefore, are not just about a choice of government, though this purpose is usually uppermost in the voters' minds. They are also concerned with selecting representatives or agents who will pursue the voters' interests with, and if necessary against, the executive branch of government. This aspect of electoral choice is apparent in support for minor parties in the Senate (to 'keep the bastards honest') and in the personal vote for individual members which may be influenced by their effectiveness as the agents of their constituents.

The main mechanism of parliamentary accountability is through ministerial responsibility, part of the conventions of responsible government adopted from Westminster. In particular, individual ministerial responsibility requires that ministers answer to Parliament for the conduct of their portfolios, particularly for the departments directly under their control. Public servants, to protect their political neutrality are expected to remain anonymous, deferring publicly to the authority of their ministers. Ministerial responsibility thus provides the key link in a hierarchical chain of command and accountability, from the individual public servant, up through the departmental hierarchy to the secretary, and thence to the minister, to Parliament and ultimately to the electorate. In relation to statutory authorities and government business enterprises, of which Australia has a strong tradition dating back to the colonial era, the line of control is less direct. Ministerial rights of intervention are constrained and the political accountability of such bodies through the chain of ministerial responsibility is correspondingly reduced.

The effectiveness of ministerial responsibility in delivering public accountability has long been an issue of controversy. Discussion has been unduly dominated by mistaken interpretations of ministerial responsibility regularly recycled by opportunistic oppositions, ignorant journalists and politically naïve constitutional lawyers: that ministers are personally responsible for all actions taken by their departmental subordinates and that they are required to resign for mistakes made by their subordinates. Such assumptions are clearly foreign to Australian understandings of ministerial responsibility (Reid 1984; Finn 1990; Uhr 1998, 194-204) (and also to general practice in the United Kingdom (Woodhouse)). The main obligations on ministers are to 'take responsibility' for their departments by providing answers to Parliament and the public, by imposing appropriate remedies when faults come to light and by not passing the buck to their subordinates. Resignation is sensibly reserved for matters where ministers can personally be held culpable (including breach of the rule of not misleading Parliament, a rule vital for effective ministerial accountability).

Ministerial accountability to Parliament ranges from the boringly routine, in the form of departmental annual reports, to the politically sensational, as opposition politicians seek to wound and destroy vulnerable ministers. Its effects are felt far down the ranks of the permanent bureaucracy, where public servants prepare answers to ministerial questions and fear the often dire personal consequences of getting their ministers into political trouble. Individual members of Parliament can also activate the parliamentary obligations of ministers, taking up issues on behalf of their constituents. Ministerial responsibility also forces ministers to answer publicly to the media in the knowledge that refusal to face questioning will only lead to further political damage in the arena of Parliament. While ministerial responsibility has well-known limits as an accountability mechanism, particularly through the protection from direct scrutiny it affords to public servants and ministerial staff, its particular strength lies in its capacity to enforce administrative remedies through the politically motivated intervention of ministers (Mulgan 1997a).

Besides holding ministers to account for the conduct of their portfolios, Parliament's other longstanding accountability function has been in the scrutinising of public finances. As the body that authorises public revenue and expenditure, Parliament has a natural interest in seeing that the various public agencies raising and spending public funds comply with specified purposes and procedures. Governments, on the other hand, have a contrary interest in avoiding excessive scrutiny of their own actions and the history of government financial audit is one of continuing struggle between secretive executives and inquisitive parliamentarians. The office of Auditor-General, established in the first year of the Commonwealth, had to wait almost a century before being confirmed as an officer of Parliament (Auditor-General Act 1997) while its ancillary parliamentary committee, the Public Accounts Committee was established some time later (1913) and was even suspended for almost two decades (from1932 to 1951) (Uhr 1998, 182-86). Parliament and its auditors have been generally effective in holding public officials accountable, on the taxpayers' behalf, on matters of financial rectitude but inquiries into questions of government efficiency have often met with more resistance.


In this part we examine the 'open government' agenda of accountability associated with the new administrative law. In the following part, we compare the agenda associated with new managerialism or new public management. Both frameworks of accountability have produced admirable additions to national governance. But both have also given rise to 'accountability gaps' that continue to complicate either their own agenda of accountability or wider tasks of governance.

The leading question we pose here is: what are the implications for national governance of the arena of accountability associated with demands for greater transparency and openness in public decision-making? A tentative answer is that many of the developments in the field of open government fall between the loose public interest in 'responsive government' and the tighter interest-group demands for rights of access and accountability. It is characteristic of the open government agenda of accountability that it protects the access-rights of active citizens to public decision-making. It is an agenda that tends to be legal in its orientation, viewing accountability as a right to information (as in freedom of information laws) and as a right to draw upon information about government in order to put new information to government in order to try to secure preferred outcomes for interested groups and individuals. This arena of accountability tends to view accountability in terms of administration rather than policy, or at best as administrative policy rather public policy.

For ease of comparison, we begin this part by noting the shape of the new administrative law as it emerged around the time of the Coombs inquiry into Australian government administration. Parts of the open government package predated the Coombs inquiry but the Coombs articulation remains one of the most persuasive and balanced of the many cases made on behalf of the accountability of openness. The 1971 Kerr report on administrative review marks the real beginnings of this reform package, paving the way for the legislative establishment of three core review avenues and related organisations over the three years 1975-1977: the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (and the associated Administrative Review Council which has become a very important policy advisory body in the general area of open government) in 1975, the Ombudsman in 1976 and the establishment of judicial review of Commonwealth decision-making through the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act in 1977.

For convenience, we can take the Coombs report as our guide to the policy intention of this original package of accountability institutions. The Coombs agenda of administrative reform highlighted the long-term importance of a representative bureaucracy which would be accountable by virtue of being open to the broadest range of social groupings and viewpoints. The short-term measure designed to assist this process was a strategy for making government and especially the bureaucracy more accountable by virtue of being more responsive to the community, even at the expense of having to 'adapt the Westminster model' (see eg Coombs, 137-146, and especially at 138). One form of responsiveness was identified with greater community participation in government: open consultation in public decision-making --- in particular bureaucratic (but also parliamentary) rather than ministerial decision-making. Public officials had to be reminded that they had to conduct their business 'in more open style' because they, no less than their ministers, had 'an accountability directly to the community' (Coombs, 125-7). Open government was expected to be an important element of this new degree of responsiveness, introducing enhanced public access to government services. Closely related were 'grievance procedures' including an office of Ombudsman as well as extension of the then-new administrative appeals machinery (such as the AAT established in 1975) designed to guarantee rights of access, including rights to explanations and investigations of denials of access (Coombs 133-5).

It is important to note that Coombs anticipated fears that open government might lead to a form of what it recognised as politicised government, with community groups buying improper influence over the bureaucracy (Coombs, 143-5). In the eyes of managerialist critics of administrative review, this threat is one that should be taken quite seriously if one is interested in the integrity of representative government. By way of contrast, some accountability advocates call attention to the varieties of improper influence that political parties themselves bring to the policy process, highlighted by allegations that ministers of both major political parties have devised a crude form of open government that involves selling access to ministers through specially-targetted 'meet the minister' dinners and seminars where those attending pay for the privilege, with the receipts going into the pockets of the relevant political party (see eg Harris 2000).

Consider in this light the establishment of the Commonwealth Ombudsman as one important institution designed to bring government and citizen closer together, at no cost to the citizen. The legislation established a potentially powerful investigator of citizen-alleged maladministration, operating at arms length from both the political executive and Parliament, neither of which could interfere with its priorities. The Ombudsman may decide that decisions affecting an aggrieved citizen are indeed wrong. Though powers at this point are limited to 'persuasion and publicity' (Pearce 1998, 65), public exposure, as often, is usually sufficient to compel compliance. A more significant frailty is that the budget is determined by the political executive without any protection that might come from parliamentary involvement. Despite the fact that the Ombudsman's performance is quite good, with around two-thirds of complaints being resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, former Ombudsman Dennis Pearce describes the Commonwealth Ombudsman as 'the poor relative of the review family in terms of resources, status, public exposure and research interest' (Pearce 1998, 59, 65-68).

Not all the work is rewarding: among the most bitter of complaints about closed government derive from the Ombudsman's connection to the Freedom of Information law established in 1982 --- at the particular instigation of Parliament, against the reluctance of the political executive. The Ombudsman is the office normally responsible for complaints about refusals to release government information and this workload reinforces a view within government that the office is yet another intrusive appeals body adding to the burden of government paperwork and form-driven accountability (see eg Ombudsman 1999).

But attention should also be given to the more generic competence of the Ombudsman to promote better governance, somewhat along the lines of the proactive role also claimed shortly after by the Auditor-General (Pearce 1998, 59-62). Whereas almost all review tribunals have no responsibility for examining agency responsiveness to their reports on specific matters, the Ombudsman is distinctive in that it can and does stay the distance and audit an agency's administrative policies after the event, in order to help monitor improvements in decision-making and to promote the general cause of better public administration. Just as the Auditor-General can now point to its generic types of management improvement (eg good practice guides) to demonstrate the 'value-added' of its accountability focus, so too the Ombudsman: call this a form of 'procedure-oriented accountability' to supplement the orthodoxy of 'results-oriented accountability' promoted by the political executive.

Soon after the establishment of the Ombudsman, the system of review/appeals bodies began to expand markedly across government and public affairs --- as provided for through the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (1986), eventually encapsulating the Race (1975), Sex (1984) and Disability (1992) commissioners --- and within portfolios: for example, review tribunals were established in areas of policy where there were likely to be debates over rights and entitlements, such as social security, veterans affairs, immigration, taxation, and federal public service employment (the Merit Protection and Review Agency). One of the earliest areas to shows signs of an dangerous 'accountability gap' was federal employment, where judicial/tribunal review placed steadily increasing burdens of accountability on the employer (effectively, government agencies and their chief executive officers) to facilitate the rights of employees to 'due process', particularly the natural justice requirements of statements of reasons and a fair hearing (Kirby 1986). The changing spirit of accountability is nicely captured in this comment from the then-Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason:

'Our evolving concept of the democratic process is moving beyond an exclusive emphasis on parliamentary supremacy and majority will. It embraces a notion of responsible government which respects the fundamental rights and dignity of the individual and calls for observance of procedural fairness in matters affecting the individual. The proper function of the courts is to protect and safeguard this vision of the democratic process' (Mason 1987, 163).

The 1980s witnessed something of an explosion of the scope of judicial review as the federal court responded to ever-expanded interests in opening government operations in the name of greater accountability. Not even the operations of cabinet were protected against judicial interpretation holding that changing notions of good governance increasingly placed the burden of proof on government officials to justify the continued secrecy of records of cabinet deliberations.

Two important lines of criticism are pertinent at this point. First, traditionalists have always suspected that the open government agenda would eventually undercut the accountability regime associated with responsible parliamentary government --- particularly by weakening ministerial responsibility to Parliament through the new focus on the direct accountability of officials and agencies to review tribunals (see eg Reid and Forrest 1989). Second, advocates of results-oriented risk management have feared that review tribunals will provide too many checks and balances on program implementation that will allow individuals and interested groups to second-guess government policy in the guise of seeking review of program administration. Taking the first issue, we note that it is not simply political executives that have complained against intrusive reviewers. Defenders of parliamentarism like Gordon Reid have also warned against the open government program to the extent that it can weaken two lines of political accountability: ministerial accountability to Parliament for administrative as well as policy failures; and more generally the public accountability of elected members to their electorate for whom they should accept the role of local ombudsman. Associated with this line of criticism is a belief that there are very real limits to the scope for substituting legal forms of accountability for what are essentially political problems (Reid and Forrest 1989, 383-5).

Two important policy documents illustrate this re-articulation of the fundamentals of ministerial responsibility as understood in the Australian governance context. The first dates from the Keating Labor government and the second from the Howard conservative government, but both sit well together as important contributions to public expectations about accountability, at least as hoped for by those managing the system of government. The first is the 1993 report on Accountability in the Commonwealth Public Sector issued by the Management Advisory Board (MAB 1993); the second is Prime Minister Howard's Guide to Key Elements of Ministerial Responsibility issued by the office of the prime minister shortly after the March 1996 election, in line with Howard's election promise to raise standards of political conduct (Howard 1996). The first report drew upon considerable political debate surrounding a 1991 exposure draft which many thought conceded too much authority to ministers to determine the agenda of public accountability, while marginalising the legitimacy of the Auditor-General as Parliament's primary accountability agency (MAB 1991). The revised report contains a politically realistic version of the relative accountability obligations of ministers and administrative officials, reinforcing the principle that Parliament should target ministers as their chief source of accountability for government performance. But the MAB report clearly indicates that administrative officials owe important, if limited, accountability obligations to Parliament --- as is now routinised in the government guidelines for public service witnesses to parliamentary committees (MAB 1993, 26-39).

This framework has been further strengthened by the 1996 Howard policy commitment to publicly-declared standards of ministerial conduct, complementing yet another MAB accountability report, this time on public service ethical standards and values (Howard 1996; MAB 1996). On paper, Howard's so-called 'ministerial code' takes quite a strict line against perceived as well as real conflicts of interest, on the basis that accountability of government ultimately rests on sustained public confidence in the integrity of ministerial conduct. Thus the core values of public accountability are promoted through ministerial commitment to honesty 'in their public dealings' including repairing unintentional misleading of Parliament whenever that occurs. Ministers are also expected to abide by a partnership of trust with their chief public service advisers, respecting their political impartiality and considering official advice 'carefully and fairly'. This partnership acknowledges that departmental secretaries work 'under the minister' but that each party faces separate if related burdens of accountability. The 'accountability obligations' of ministers means that they 'would properly be held to account for matters for which they were personally responsible, or where they were aware of problems but had not acted to rectify them' (Howard 1996, section 6).

We turn now to the second of our two identified criticisms of the open-government agenda of accountability. We note that among the 'accountability gaps' evident here is one of quite fundamental importance: the rupture between the political executive and the review industry (or 'grievance industry' as the coalition terms it). To speak of a system of administrative review is to give history the benefit of hindsight: in fact, what now appears as an extensive system of administrative review grew without a specific and detailed blueprint and without the deliberate intention of executive government to establish 'a system' as such. The accountability gap referred to is the ever-deepening gap between the interests in open government shared by administrative reviewers and the rather different interests of the political executive.

The drivers for the establishment and the spread of the system of administrative review were initially Parliament, including many non-executive backbenchers in both major political parties, and subsequently law-reformers, including many office-holders in the administrative law system. The gap now evident was always a distinct potential, in that successive political executives have registered their uneasiness with the steady expansion of the scope of review. It is important to note that neither the establishment nor the threats of dis-establishment (to exaggerate for effect) have been partisan: rather the reverse, in that bipartisanship has characterised both the initial momentum and also the current suspicions by Labor when last in government and the current coalition government that the system has overreached its span of real utility, and is showing increasing signs of being counter-productive.

The most important evidence of the accountability gap is the policy adopted initially by Labor's Justice minister Michael Lavarch and subsequently by the coalition's Attorney-General Williams to consolidate the administrative tribunal system in a new Administrative Review Tribunal to concentrate the operations of various portfolio-specific review bodies: migration being the primary but not the sole target area. Neither party in government has been able to carry through with this streamlining exercise, which itself tells us something significant about the limits of cross-partisan policy commitment in the face of entrenched opposition from the relevant policy institutions (see eg ARC 1995; Ruddock 1999).

The developing character of this quite fundamental gap can be illustrated by noting two influential ministerial cases in favour of reform: one from the late-1980s involving Labor's Finance minister Peter Walsh and one from the late-1990s involving the coalition's Immigration minister Philip Ruddock (Walsh 1989, 1995; Ruddock 1999). The Walsh argument has often been characterised as the voice of economic rationalism unable to appreciate the policy benefits of procedural orientations which appear to be out of step with the economistic framework of results-oriented public management. There is enough of this sentiment about in the political community for us to warn that the Walsh argument is significantly different. True enough, Walsh generated unusually widespread opposition to what appeared to be his cost-cutting approach to the new establishment of what he boldly called 'the legal priesthood' with its distinctively self-serving 'doublethink' imposing its own 'value judgements on the legislature…often at substantial cost to budget outlays' (Walsh 1989, 29).

But despite the misunderstanding of anti-managerialist critics at the time, the Walsh argument was far from silent on the equity dimension of governance. Walsh contended that the system of administrative review rests on a faulty system of 'ethics or philosophy' with a faulty understanding of social equity, characterised by the absence of 'marginal cost/benefit' analysis of the social gains of additional layers of review of government policy and administrative decision-making. Drawing on concepts of Pareto efficiency, Walsh drove home the point that one person's equity 'is necessarily another's inequity', notably taxpayers who carry the bill for the public resolution of private grievances. For government officials to try to ensure that their conduct complies with the reviewable requirements of FOI, the Ombudsman, the AAT, the ARC, HREOC and, when all else fails, the federal court 'makes decision-making time-consuming and cumbersome' (Walsh 1989, 30). Multiple layers of review tend to ensure that aggrieved individuals will eventually find a forum that supports their case --- or 'cause' as Walsh would have it --- and the very business of review tribunals means that almost without design, reviewers are authorising additional public expenditure in the name of an untested agenda of social equity.

The 1990s rendition of the ministerial case against administrative review builds on this earlier equity critique and takes note of the reviewer-activism which has grown up in the wake of judicial activism in the courts more generally. Take for instance the case frequently promoted by minister Ruddock for the coalition government when defending its proposed consolidation of review bodies (Ruddock 1999). At its most general, the challenge is to find an effective balance between accountability and efficiency, even to the point of streamlining 'any overlap or duplication of services between accountability mechanisms', and especially to 'prevent misuse by individuals who engage accountability mechanisms for improper purposes', meaning by this such practices as buying-time tactics to delay their inevitable removal, 'at huge expense to the taxpayer' (Ruddock 1999, 8).

Consistent with the Walsh line, Ruddock contends that the most fundamental form of accountability is that which elected governments owe to electors, as well as the related form of accountability that political executives have for exercising their responsibilities of office when taking the hard decisions about what is in the best public interests of the community over the long-term. The next step is to contrast this form of electoral accountability with the judicial activism allegedly found in the federal court, especially when dealing with appeals against migration decisions, where 'the Federal Court has failed to maintain its proper role of undertaking judicial review' by substituting a review of the merits of policy ('through creative statutory interpretation') for the more modest review of the procedural regularity of official decision-making. Defending the government's efforts to streamline review processes within the area of immigration, minister Ruddock has argued that 'some tribunal members appeared to labouring under a misapprehension that their independence from the Government meant that they were under no obligation to be accountable for their productivity and the use of government resources' (Ruddock 1999, 9).


The processes of government accountability have also been significantly affected by the major changes that public sectors have undergone over the last two decades under the influence of the international reform movement variously known as 'managerialism' or the 'new public management'. The reforms have had a number of components, including management by objectives, corporatisation and privatisation, competitive tendering and outsourcing, separation of purchasers and providers, greater client and customer focus, and greater flexibility in employment conditions. The movement's guiding principle has been not so much the imposition of a single new management paradigm but rather a more open-ended determination to apply private sector management principles to the public sector on the ground the public sector is inefficient and ineffective in comparison with the private sector. The assumption that public administration is fundamentally different from private business management has been discredited, leading to the increasing adoption of private sector management techniques by public agencies.

Our leading question in this section is; what is the operational meaning of accountability that is unfolding in the search for alternative forms of program management and service delivery? While the main thrust has been to improve efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness, accountability has also figured as one of the goals needing significant improvement. From a private sector perspective, public sector agencies are clearly deficient in terms of accountability, especially in their lack of 'bottom line' accountability for results and their lack of direct responsiveness to customers. Without clear objectives from their ministers, professional public servants are free to distort the policy agenda for their own bureaucratic interests and thus thwart accountability to their ultimate owners, the public. In addition. accountability of service providers directly to the citizens is impeded by the absence of competition and the consequent absence of incentives to satisfy the demands of members of the public.

At the same time, the public service is also seen to suffer from excessive requirements for accountability in other respects. For instance, traditional ministerial responsibility for departments gives ministers the right to intervene in all aspects of departmental activities instead of confining them to matters of general strategy and objectives. Under the constant threat of political interference, departmental managers lack sufficient freedom to make their own decision about how best to achieve the government's objectives. Excessive aversion to risk is also induced by an exaggerated concern for due process and by over-zealous scrutiny of financial inputs rather than outputs and outcomes. An accountability agenda therefore suggested itself: clarify objectives and enhance the strategic control of ministers, substituting accountability in terms of results and responsiveness to the public in place of the all-embracing responsibility of ministers and the emphasis on process and inputs.

In practice, the new public management has had an ambivalent effect on public accountability, strengthening transparency and public answerability in some respects while reducing them in others. To begin with, there have been some clear gains. One is in the responsiveness of public servants to their political masters which is a key link in the chain of political accountability connecting officials through their superiors to ministers, parliament and ultimately the people. The incoming ALP ministers in 1983 sought to secure the loyal obedience of a public service rendered politically suspect by its record under the Whitlam government together with its loyal service to longstanding Coalition governments. 'Political accountability', understood as the duty of public servants to answer to, and take instructions from, the political arm of government, was one of the leading themes of the new government's white paper on public sector reform (Commonwealth of Australia 1983) and remained an official goal of the subsequent Financial Management Improvement Plan (FMIP)(Keating 1988). A number of measures, not least the increasing insecurity of tenure for senior public servants, particularly agency heads, have helped ministers to assert greater control over the formulation and implementation of government policy. The era of the all-powerful public service mandarin (no doubt exaggerated in retrospect) is at an end and ministers are more obviously in charge of the direction of their departments (Halligan et al, 1996). Such strengthening of the role of ministers clearly serves the ends of public accountability by placing public policy more directly under the control of politicians who must answer to the electorate in the continuous election campaign of the parliamentary and electoral process.

The new program-based budgeting system may have also helped ministers involved in budgetary processes (eg through the Expenditure Review Committee) to impose greater political direction over policy options with major financial implications. The greater emphasis on corporate goals and strategic planning at the agency level has primarily been intended to facilitate the managerial control of secretaries and senior management and so to increase the 'internal' accountability within agencies. As such, improved internal accountability does not necessarily increase accountability to the public. However, improved control from the top may also assist ministers in making agencies responsive to political direction.

Another clear benefit often seen as a gain in accountability stems from the new emphasis on providing services to the satisfaction of individual members of the public. Old-style government departments dealing directly with the public had a reputation for insensitive and inflexible service. Their monopoly of delivering government entitlements and their risk-averse concern for red-tape gave them little incentive to satisfy the public. By comparison, private sector companies operating in competitive markets must satisfy their customers or go out of business and are thus more accountable to the public. Various devices have been introduced for making service providers more client- or customer- focused. One has been the introduction of more competitive trading, often accompanied with contracting out to private service providers, corporatisation or privatisation. In the remaining public sector, attempts have been made, often successfully, to change the culture of service providers, sometimes, as in the case with Centrelink, with the threat that the business will be contracted out to the private sector if public servants do not become more sensitive to the needs of their customers. In the commonwealth, all service providing agencies are now required to adopt the UK innovation of service charters which promulgate standards of services which members of the public can expect to receive. In these ways, government agencies have become generally more responsive to the public they serve.

However, there have also been some losses in accountability from the new reforms. Most notable have been various restrictions in the scope of ministerial intervention and therefore accountability. The new public management has had a two-edged view of the role of ministers. On the one hand, public bureaucracies have been accused of excessive influence over elected ministers, of abusing their size and accumulated experience to capture the policy process. Such criticism has led to the initiatives designed to strengthen the control of ministers and thus increase political accountability over public servants. On the other hand, the reformers have also been highly critical of what is seen as the 'interference' or 'intervention' of politicians in matters which are better left to the operation of competitive markets or delegated to managers unconcerned with political popularity. While ministers have always been prevented from interfering in areas such as appointments where politically motivated decisions would attract charges of undue favouritism or corruption, attempts have been made to extend the areas quarantined from political intervention. For example, the thrust to corporatise and then privatise government trading services has been largely premised on a view that government trading services should not be subject to political pressure but should be allowed to respond wholeheartedly to economic imperatives. Politicians responsive to voters are inevitably concerned about the social consequences of trading decisions and are therefore tempted to cross-subsidise economically unproductive services for electoral reasons. They will also want to intervene in politically sensitive issues such us the closure of individual branch offices, making ad hoc decisions which cut across sound business strategy, or they will embark on the risky course of 'picking winners' which is better left to market forces. In the interest of economic efficiency, the right of ministers to intervene must be curtailed, either by requiring government agencies to return a dividend as government business enterprises or by transferring ownership of the enterprises to the private sector. In either case, commercial imperatives must be allowed to prevail over political imperatives.

While the arguments for corporatisation and privatisation in terms of improved efficiency and effectiveness are generally convincing, particularly where government trading enterprises have been exposed to genuine competition, the reduction in political control must also be seen as implying a reduction in the level of public accountability. To the extent that services such as public transport, postal services and telecommunications are not subject to political direction they are not accountable to citizens via the political process. When public services are reduced or fail for some reason, citizens can no longer seek answers from their MPs and from ministers nor can they threaten direct retribution through the ballot box. Politicians may express sympathy for the victims of economic restructuring and even offer palliatives but they can now escape direct responsibility for the tough and unpopular decisions. As the state's sway over investment and trading decisions weakens, so too does the extent to which citizens can hold decision-makers accountable to them for their decisions.

Certainly, where public services such as telecommunications are now provided by commercial companies, members of the public may reap the benefits of improved customer service due to market competition. However, whether such improved responsiveness to customers is to count as an increase in accountability is a contested issue (eg Hughes 1998, 236-7 in favour; Rhodes 1997, 101-3, Mulgan 2000 against). Behind the linguistic disagreement lies a dispute over the relative importance of core aspects of accountability, such as the right of members of the public to demand explanations and seek remedies ('voice' rights), compared with the benefits of exercising consumer choice ('exit' rights). Voice rights are much more restricted in the private sector, being generally confined to the right of customers to seek remedies for treatment in their own particular own case and not usually allowing a general right to scrutinise overall company policy. Improved service may come about as a result of the customer's capacity to exit and seek another provider. But it often comes at the cost of a reduction in the core rights of accountability.

Even within the remaining public sector not subject to corporatisation or privatisation, reductions in political 'interference' and therefore political accountability have been sought through other aspects of the reform agenda such as the separation of purchasers and providers or the institutional separation of policy advice and implementation. While it is conceded that ministers, as the people's representatives, should be allowed to decide the direction of public policy, decisions about how that policy is to be implemented, it is argued, should best be left to professional managers who have expertise in their respective areas. The catchphrase 'let the managers manage' carried an implicit warning against interference by ministers in matters of policy implementation and administrative detail. Purchaser/provider splits and contracting out have sought to impose an institutional divide between ministers and service deliverers, bridging the gap with formal, contractual agreements in place of an unlimited right of intervention (Mulgan 1997b).

The resulting accountability deficit has surfaced in a number of well-publicised cases, ranging from the difficulty of gaining a remedy for damages to mailbox caused by an Australian Post contractor (Commonwealth Ombudsman 1997) to the difficulty of getting 'commercial-in-confidence' information about employment service contractors. Problems of public accountability for tendering processes have been a recurrent theme of Auditors-General. Ministers have sometimes been happy to deny direct responsibility for the unpopular decisions made by contracted providers, for example in the blow-out of costs for the Collins submarines or the administration of nursing homes.

Yet the loss in accountability has been less than the pure theory of institutional separation might suggest. The overriding cause has been the reluctance of the public to allow ministers to decline responsibility for mistakes occurring in their portfolios, regardless of whether the ministers have a direct institutional responsibility or not. Ministers who try to pass the buck when prisoners escape from private prisons or when job-seekers are rejected by publicly-funded employment agencies or when lives are lost on corporatised public railways are pilloried in the media and parliament. The traditional expectations of ministerial responsibility, that, in times of crisis, ministers will front up, take charge and impose remedies, run very deep (O'Faircheallaigh, Wanna and Weller 1999, ch 16). The public are not prepared to accept a devolution of accountability for administrative error away from ministers to other agencies public or private contractors. Nor will they readily accept diminished access for their review agents such as ombudsmen and auditors- general.

In practice, then, in the interest of political survival, politicians and their advisers have drawn back from the theory of institutional separation and its attendant rhetoric of clarified responsibilities and accountabilities. Purchaser/provider arrangements in politically sensitive areas, such as the Commonwealth's Centrelink, have been designed to preserve traditional ministerial accountability for administrative decisions. Contracts for public services increasingly provide rights of ministerial intervention or for scrutiny by review agencies. For instance, the second round of contracts for the employment service providers allow the minister to issue instructions to contractors at any time. Most contracts now guarantee the Auditor-General full access to the financial information of contracting companies.

At the same time, confidence that the respective responsibilities of ministers and agency heads, or purchasers and providers, could be easily clarified has foundered on the impossibility of clearly distinguishing between policy and implementation. Instead of relying on detailed specification, contractual relationships are increasingly defined in terms of the open-ended concept of 'partnership' (eg between Centrelink and its purchasing departments or between DOFA and Pricewaterhouse Coopers). Partnership involves a sharing of responsibility and marks a move away from the assumption that each side could be made accountable for its own separate activities.

Rejection of the reformers' accountability agenda is also evident in the continuing public concern over inputs and due process in government expenditure. The results-oriented theory of program budgeting and output-based budgeting has sought to redirect parliamentary and media scrutiny away from supposedly 'side' issues, such as travel expenses or expenditure on private consultancies, to the intended results of public expenditure, to whether the taxpayer is getting value for money in terms of specified outcomes and outputs. While parliamentarians have not been uninterested in the new output-based information (though they remain sceptical about the usefulness of some objectives and performance indicators (SFPALC 1999)), they still seek information on some input issues. Opposition politicians, in particular, see questions of dubious ministerial expenditure and appointments as the surest way to guarantee media interest and to embarrass governments. In this they reflect the interests of the public in sniffing out suspected profiteering or corruption.

Citizens, on the whole, still expect to hold politicians and government officials accountable according to higher standards of transparency and probity than their private sector counterparts. The new public management can be seen as having attempted to weaken this presumption by moving public sector management closer to the 'bottom-line' accountability regimes of the private sector. While the reformers had considerable success in transferring some institutions and services beyond direct ministerial control or out of the public sector altogether, overall the public's concern for public accountability remains undiminished. Confirmation is provided by the recent history of the office of Auditor-General in Victoria, which was first significantly weakened by the Kennett government under the pretext of competition policy, then championed by the Opposition as a campaign issue, and finally restored by the Bracks government with added constitutional entrenchment.

However, at all levels of government, the challenge still remains of how best to implement continuing public expectations of accountability when increasing numbers of public services are no longer provided by agencies under direct political control. Ministerial responsibility, which depends on direct political control, will continue to decline in relative importance as a mechanism of public accountability compared with other institutions, such as parliamentary committees, auditors and ombudsmen that can have more purchase over statutory authorities as well as over agencies in the private and community sectors.


We turn now to an external perspective on accountability, examining public suspicion that 'the government' is increasingly less accountable and unresponsive to community interests. The leading question posed in this part is: assuming that accountability is at the core of modern democratic government, what then in practice do citizens want from accountability? This question precedes the question posed in later parts: are the institutions of accountability really competent to deliver accountability, even if they had the will (and the budget) to do so? Of course, public demands that someone 'should be held responsible' imply that government decision-makers should be held accountable; but only in rare cases do we expect that such accountability will be directly exercised by the people, in the manner of an electoral connection.

As noted above, the very term 'responsible government' suggests that this governance system is one of delegations of trust which are made conditional on continued confidence of the delegator in the delegatee: the people place great responsibilities in Parliament to represent the nation, and Parliament in turn places great responsibilities in the government of the day to exercise its office as one of trust. Accountability is the bridge between trust and confidence. The simple reading is that Australian governance builds on trust and confidence, starting with the expression of popular trust in Parliament which in turn entrusts the responsibilities of government to the political parties enjoying its confidence.

But what happens when this bridge of accountability fails for whatever reason to allow the easy traffic of trust and confidence? Difficult enough are the situations where Parliament, or one of the two house of Parliament, revokes the confidence that it has placed in an executive or a minister in the political executive. But much more troubling is the situation of popular withdrawal of confidence in 'the government' because, typically, government is no longer 'responsive' to the community. Australian government has seen many attempts, particularly at the state level, to restore public confidence to systems of governance with allegedly 'unaccountable governments' (from Fitzgerald in Queensland to the Commission on Government in Western Australia).

Recent reviews of the growing body of Australian research on public trust in the political system 'would appear to undermine gloomy predictions…about decline of confidence in Australian institutions' (Papadakis 1999, 90; cf McAllister and Wanna this volume). One reassuring lesson emerging from the reviews of public opinion is that while the community is increasingly distrustful of politicians and established political parties, it retains its confidence in the basic system of parliamentary governance (see eg Goot 1999). Perhaps this is as reassuring as is often supposed, but we can see value in clarifying accountability by linking the standard reviews of public distrust to the basic electoral mechanisms of public accountability. One element in this are the hard statistics of declining voter support for the established political parties as evidence of the electorate holding the party establishment accountable for past breaches of electoral trust. Another element, which has not received the attention we think it deserves, is the referendum record of growing voter disenchantment with proposals to confer greater responsibility and power on government. The classic expression of this sentiment is the 1999 republic referendum where the defeat of the option on offer can be explained by sustained voter support for a system of direct election --- which for present purposes illustrates public commitment to new and untested forms of accountable government: eg a directly-elected non-partisan public official holding in check partisans in government.

The 1999 referendum record confirms an interesting trend in voting behaviour. Consider the referendum proposals over the last half century since the end of the Second World War: only five popular ratifications of 25 proposed changes (Uhr 1999; Uhr 2000). The period begins with popular endorsement of a big-government change with the inclusion of 'social services' in the list of Parliament's responsibilities in section 51 of the Constitution. The next success comes three referendums later when the electorate confirms the deletion of discriminatory constitutional provisions relating to Indigenous Australians, with the effect of further widening the reach of Parliamentary responsibilities in section 51. These two instances are the sole instances in the last half century where referendum voters have augmented the responsibilities of national government; their importance emerges when seen in the context of (i) overwhelming rejection of other proposals for either enhanced responsibilities for government or greater concentrations of power in the political executive; and (ii) important voter support for a limited number of accountability protections against the threat of irresponsible government.

The first element of this context emerged in the 1967 referendum in the defeat of the 'concentrationist' ploy of breaking the constitutional between the two parliamentary houses. The general trend away from confirming additional responsibilities or powers on government is confirmed by the six further referendum defeats to the Whitlam government, including a proposed entrenchment of democratic elections, which at first blush looks consistent with an interest in greater accountability. The Fraser government won three of its four referendums in 1977 but all can be seen as part of this changing context of growing public interest in greater public accountability: retirement ages for otherwise unaccountable judges; referendum voting rights for Territory voters who were traditionally locked out of the referendum system; and entrenchment of a Senate casual vacancy scheme to protect the will of voters against unaccountable State governments.

With this three-fold Fraser success in 1977 we have the classic illustration of voter support for an accountability agenda. The defeated fourth proposal for simultaneous elections can be explained by reference to its probable effect in concentrating the power of the political executive. Six Labor defeats in 1984 and 1988 confirm a marked decline in public support for referendum proposals which fall foul of the two tests of enlarged responsibilities or powers identified above, despite the 1988 promised rhetoric of 'fair elections' and 'rights and freedoms' (Galligan and Nethercote 1988). The 1988 referendums occurred at the high point of the celebrations for the 200 year anniversary of white settlement, but the community rejected (in a record for a country with a tradition of negative response-rates) what might have seemed to be a major addition to their security of rights and to their expectation of accountable government. This historic 1988 referendum defeat is worth noting as part of the trend of civic distrust in government; it can then be compared with the 1999 referendum defeat, again at a time of great symbolism, when voters might well have been expected to rally to the cause of constitutional modernisation. But instead we find a growing gulf between elite and mass opinion, with the people reliably convinced that only popular election can make the proposed republican head of state 'one of us' (to turn the P J Keating phrase on its head).

Although 1999 voter support for change was higher than in 1988, the general trend of voter response to referendums is still clear: it is getting harder for governments to win at referendums because voters have switched from a traditional mode of delegating greater responsibility to government (eg 1946, 1967) to the current mode of demanding greater accountability from government. This mode-change parallels the rise of split-ticket voting where voters increasingly vary their preferred options between House and Senate elections, in an effort to check and balance whichever party wins government. At referendum time, the approach of voters is that any additional responsibilities must be balanced by direct accountabilities back to the public, which reportedly feels 'locked out' by unresponsive governments 'unwilling to listen' --- a complaint not confined to national governments, as the defeat of the Kennett government and the narrow return of the Beattie government illustrate (Uhr 2000).

Finally, consider the potential of direct democracy to revise traditional governance practices. The growing interest in a directly-elected head of state might be the tip of an ice-berg of community interest in other forms of direct democracy. Direct democracy can be represented as a form of 'deliberative democracy' in that it widens the deliberative process to include greater public participation, even to the point of popular initiation of legislative change (Uhr 1998; Williams and Chin 2000). There are few Australian examples of sustained direct democracy, which is not surprising when one considers the historical prominence within the Australian political tradition of 'the Australian ballot' (ie the secret ballot) as a platform for representative parliamentary government. Analysts of direct democracy tend to search for 'more viable and politically pragmatic means of increasing the involvement of the community in the political process', such as community cabinet processes, widening of parliamentary committees in the deliberative process, and even greater use of traditional mechanisms like parliamentary petitions (Williams and Chin 2000, 47). It is easy to speculate but harder to be specific about what forms of direct democracy might be feasible in Australian circumstances. What is important is to recognise that the institutional framework of parliamentary democracy pinches against direct democracy and there is an increasing if not yet substantial amount of evidence suggesting that the future shape of national governance will reflect greater rather less direct popular participation.


We have noted that public confidence in the system of governance is stable despite the persistence of 'cynicism fostered by media investigations' (Papadakis 1999, 91). The potential impact of this popular cynicism is relevant because many in the community look to the media to play an important part in the structures of public accountability. But it is also possible that what passes for public cynicism is really community indifference to politicians, where the potential for entrenched cynicism is held in check by public confidence in the capacity of accountability institutions to restrain the worst excesses of bad government (see eg Bean, 1988, 55-57).

Our aim has been to examine the spreading presence of 'accountability gaps' in Australian national governance. At one level, the existence of some sort of gap between the information requirements of demanders and suppliers of accountability is to be expected; and many would argue that this is another area of creative tension common to democratic politics. But our view is that many of these gaps have the potential to act as 'accountability traps' because those under the obligation to provide information all-too-frequently find themselves caught in traps, unprepared for and therefore unable to comply with inappropriate information demands (Uhr 1999). The sanctions can be quite real, the penalties quite harsh, even if the damage is confined to professional or personal reputation.

Even in relation to quite local matters, the accountability parties can extend across the globe. For instance, disputes over national government responsibility for standards-setting and compliance monitoring in areas like aged care facilities in suburban localities can trigger international attention: as happened in 1999 when concerned citizens with relatives in Melbourne aged-care facilities put pressure on the federal minister for aged care by reminding the Australian government of its international obligations under relevant UN agreements; and again when other civic groups effectively raised the accountability obligations of the minister representing the federal government appearing before UN human rights committees to account for state and territory mandatory-sentencing laws, and the national government's unwillingness to overturn them. Both are instructive examples of the internationalising trend in domestic accountability disputes. They also illustrate an increasingly important dimension of accountability which relates to disputes over appropriate standards for government-funded services, where governments can find themselves facing obligations to ensure compliance with emerging international practice by other domestic actors in the policy implementation process.

These examples suggest the presence of the 'globalisation' of accountability, referring to the increasingly international source of standards regarded as appropriate to good governance. Traditionally, governments have responded to accountability anxieties by trying to manage community expectations. We suggest that in an era of global civic activism, governments are likely to find less satisfaction in this traditional strategy which is facing new limits as community groups arm themselves earlier with more comprehensive information about levels of service standards for which governments can be expected to take responsibility. Thus national governments can find themselves facing a coalition of local and international activists for whom accountability assumes a central place in their emerging contribution to governance.


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Public Policy Program Discussion Papers

The Public Policy Program publishes occasional Discussion Papers by staff, students, visitors and others associated with the Program.

In November 1997 the program began making electronic copies of most recent Discussion Papers available to be down loaded from the program's website at (*marked below with an asterisk).

Enquiries should be directed to: The Editor, Discussion Papers, Public Policy Program, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200.

Papers published thus far are:

No. 1 Larry Dwyer, Estimating the Lifesavings Benefits of Controls on Hazardous Wastes: Two Problems for the Policymaker. (July 1986)

No. 2 Jane Marceau, Unequal Returns: Aspects of Opportunity in Australia. (October 1986)

No. 3 Rolf Gerritsen, Making Policy Under "Uncertainty": The Labor Government's Reaction to the "Rural Crisis". (February 1987)

No. 4 Eleanor Moses, The Oil Price Fall of 1986. (July 1987)

No. 5 P J Forsyth, Productivity Measurments in the Public Sector. (August 1987)

No. 6 Rolf Gerritsen, What Do Budget Outcomes Tell Us About the Australian States? (September 1987)

No. 7 Rolf Gerritsen, Collective Action Problems in the Regulation of Australia's Common Property Renewable Resources. (October 1987)

No. 8 Neil Marshall, Bureaucratic Politics and the Demise of the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission. (March 1988)

No. 9 Charles Maskell, Does Medicare Matter? (May 1988)

No. 10 Ray Jureidini, Public Policy and Marketplace Discrimination: Life Insurance and Superannuation. (June 1988)

No. 11 Roger Wettenhall, Overlapping Public Sectors; Notes on Foreign Public Enterprise Activity in Australia. (July 1988)

No. 12 Deborah Mitchell, Assessing the Adequacy of Social Security Payments. A Study Using U.K. Data. (August 1988)

No. 13 Rolf Gerritsen, Informing Wilderness Policy: The Distributional Implications of Conservation. (January 1989)

No. 14 Christine Fletcher, Isolated Aborigines and Road Funding Policies in Western Australia. (March 1989)

No. 15 Rolf Gerritsen, A Comment on the Appropriate Assignment of Policy Powers in the Australian Federation. (November 1989)

No. 16 Deborah Mitchell, Comparative Measures of Welfare Effort. (January 1990)

No. 17 Ann Cronin, Trends and Tensions in Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector. (February 1990).

No. 18 Deborah Mitchell, Comparing Income Transfer Systems: Is Australia the Poor Relation? (May 1990)

No. 19 John Uhr, Ethics in Government: Public Service Issues. (June 1990).

No. 20 Peter Cochrane & Rolf Gerritsen, The Public Policy Implications of Eucalypt Plantation Establishment: An Introductory Survey. (September 1990).

No. 21 F G Castles & D Mitchell, Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism or Four? (September 1990)

No. 22 Francis Castles & Michael Flood, Divorce, the Law and Social Context: Families of Nations and the Legal Dissolution of Marriage. (January 1991)

No. 23 Rolf Gerritsen, The Impossible "Politics" of Microeconomic Reform. (February 1991).

No. 24 Duane Swank, Electoral and Partisan Influences on Australian Fiscal Policy From Menzies to Hawke. (May 1991)

No. 25 Francis Castles, On Sickness Days and Social Policy. (July 1991)

No. 26 Adrian Kenneth Noon, The Negligible Impact of Specific Purpose Payments and Australia's "New Federalism". (August 1991)

No. 27 Kerry Barwise & Francis G. Castles, The "New Federalism", Fiscal Centralisation and Public Policy Outcomes. (September 1991)

No. 28 Francis G. Castles & Jenny Stewart, Towards Industrially Sustainable Development? Industry Policy Under the Hawke Government. (October 1991)

No. 29 Stephen Albin, Bureau-Shaping and Contracting Out: The Case of Australian Local Government. (January 1992)

No. 30 Adrian Kenneth Noon, Determining the Fiscal Policy Time-Frame: the Dominance of Exogenous Circumstances. (February 1992)

No. 31 Christopher John Eichbaum, Challenging the Intellectual Climate of the Times: Why the Reserve Bank of Australia is Too Independent? (January 1993)

No. 32 Joan Corbett, Child Care Provision and Women's Labour Market Participation in Australia. (February 1993)

No. 33 Francis G. Castles, Social Security in Southern Europe:
A Comparative Overview. (March 1993)

No.34 Francis G. Castles, On Religion and Public Policy: Does Catholicism Make a Difference? (April 1993)

No.35 Rolf Gerritsen, "Authority, Persuasion and Exchange" (Revisited): The Public Policy of Internationalising the Australian Economy. (August 1993)

No.36 Deborah Mitchell, Taxation and Income Redistribution: The "Tax Revolt" of the 1980s Revisited. (September 1993)

No.37 Kim Terrell, Desperately Seeking Savings, Performance and Accountability. Policing Options for the Australian Capital Territory. (September 1993)

No.38 Francis G. Castles, Is Expenditure Enough? On the Nature of the Dependent Variable in Comparative Public Policy Analysis. (February 1994)

No.39 Francis G. Castles, The Wage Earners' Welfare State Revisited: Refurbishing the Established Model of Australian Social Protection, 1983-1993. (March 1994)

No.40 Francis G. Castles, Testing the Limits of the Metaphore: Fordist and Post-Fordist Life Cycles in Australia and New Zealand. (May 1994)

No.41 Louise Watson, Making the Grade: Benchmarking Performance in Australian Schooling. (August 1994)

No. 42 Siwan Lovett, Evaluating Reform of the New Zealand Science, Research and Development System: New Deal or Dud Hand? (September 1994)

No. 43 Choon Fah Low, An Evaluation of the Impact of the ANU's Graduate Program in Public Policy on its Student's and Graduate's Careers. (October 1994)

No. 44 Einar Overbye, Different Countries on a Similar Path: Comparing Pensions Politics in Scandinavia and Australia. (August 1995)

No.45 Grant Jones, Games Public Servants Play: The Management of Parliamentary Scrutiny Before Commonwealth Estimates Committees. (August 1995)

No.46 Stephen Horn, Disagreeing About Poverty: A Case Study in Derivation Dependence. (August 1995)

No 47 Douglas Hynd, Concerned with Outcomes or Obsessed with Progress? Characteristics of Senate Committee Reports During the Period 1990-1994. (September 1995)

No. 48 Pip Nicholson, Does the System of Appointing Australian High Court Judges Need Reform? (November 1995)

*No. 49 Fred Argy, The Balance Between Equity and Efficiency in Australian Public Policy (November 1996)

*No. 50 Deborah Mitchell, Family Policy in Australia: A review of recent
developments. (March 1997)

*No. 51 Richard Mulgan, Contracting Out and Accountability. (May 1997)

*No. 52 Cynthia J. Kim, Will they still pay up-front? An analysis of the
HECS changes in 1997 (May 1997)

*No. 53 Richard Mulgan, Restructuring -The New Zealand Experience froman Australian Perspective (June 1997)

*No. 54 P.N. Junankar, Was Working Nation Working? (July 1997)

*No. 55 Deborah Mitchell, Reshaping Australian ?Social Policy: alternatives to the breadwinner welfare state (December 1997)

*No. 56 Irene Krauss, Voluntary Redundancy from the Australian Public Service-its impact on people and families in the ACT (March 1998)

*No. 57 Peter Taft, Does who wins matter more or less? An analysis of major party candidate views on some aspects of economic policy, 1987-1996 (July 1998).

*No. 58 Elise Sullivan, A Case Study In The Politics Of Retrenchment: The 1997 Coalition Residential Aged Care Structural Reform Package (November 1998).

*No. 59 Richard Mulgan, Have New Zealand's Political Experiments Increased Public Accountability* (January 1999).

*No. 60 Michael Bergmann, The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme: How did it Manage Without an EIA? (Februaary 1999)

*No. 61 Clive Hamilton, Using Economics to Protect the Environment (March 1999)

*No. 62 Withers, Glenn Essays on Immigration Policy (March 1999)

*No. 63 Withers, Glenn A Younger Australia (March 1999)

*No. 64 McMullan, Bob; Shadow Minister for Industry and Technology, The Responsibilities Of Opposition (May 1999)

*No. 65 Evans, Harry, Clerk of the Senate, The Senate And Parliamentary Accountability (June 1999)

*No.66 Barrett, Pat, AM, Auditor General for Australia, Auditing in contemporary public administration, (June 1999)

*No.67 Enfield, Samantha, Public Sector Restructuring and Community Consultation in the Australian Capital Territory: Can Old and New Public Policy Trends Work Together?, (September 1999)

*No.68 Barrett, Hon Phillip, MP, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Democratic Governance: Improving the Institutions of Accountability, (September 1999)

*No. 69 Uhr, John, The Senate and Proportional Representation: public policy justifications of minority representation, (September 1999)

*No. 70 Yates, Athol, Government as an informed buyer: Recognising technical expertise as a crucial factor in the success of engineering contracts, (September 1999)

*No. 71 Mulgan, Richard and Uhr, John, Accountability and Governance, (September 2000)

*No. 72 Mulgan, Richard, 'Accountability': An Ever- Expanding concept?, (September 2000)

*No. 73 Mulgan, Richard, Public Accountability of Executive Agencies: The Case of The Australian 'Centrelink,' (September 2000)
*No. 74 Uhr, John, Ethics At Large: Regulatory Frameworks And Policy Lessons, (September 2000)

*No. 75 Perkins, Celia, Contestability, Policy Advice & the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, (September 2000)

*No. 76 Wright, Kathleen, Marcella, Explaining Policy Failure: The Case Of Equity Policy: Observations of Australian Government policy 1989-99 designed to increase the participation of people of low socio-economic status backgrounds in higher education, (September 2000)

*No. 77 Ingles, David, Reducing Administrative Costs in the Australian Superannuation System, (September 2000)

*No. 78 Ingles, David, A Guaranteed Minimum Pension, (September 2000)

* electronic copy available to be down loaded from our web site at



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date last modified: Tuesday, 16 November 1999