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Byron Shire
April 10, 2021

Consultants rule

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In the period 2013 to 2017 the federal government’s expenditure on consultants increased from about $380m to almost $700m. The number of public servants providing the same services for far less money has decreased proportionally.

Conservative pollies maintain their discredited mantra that the private sector will always provide a more efficient service than the public.

In reality it provides the opportunity to give a substantial handout to big donor mates; but more importantly a consultant can always be relied on to come up with the answer the client wants.

In Byron Shire the same system has been in play for many years with the council staff having free reign to pick whatever ‘helpers’ they want with virtually no oversight from elected councillors.

The consultant almost exclusively favoured by Council staff is GHD, a major outfit that has proved very reliable. GHD is reportedly currently negotiating with the Adani coal mine to engineer their water-extraction system.

The question now is, will our lighter shade of green councillors take any action or will they maintain their usual practice of looking at the ceiling murmuring I see nothing?

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  1. In 2013, there was some huge power and guts behind the throne when Tony Abbott became prime minister. His Chief of staff was Peta Credlin as well as being his chief adviser and she was a public servant. Credlin and Abbott were both sacked in 2015 when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister and Turnbull too was voted out as prime minister in 2018.
    Nevertheless this was indeed an era when both men needed information for the government and for themselves and expenditure on consultants increased from $380million in 2013 to almost $700 million in 2017.
    In 2015 after the sacking of Credlin, Malcolm Turnbull elected Drew Clarke as his chief of staff. Under the Abbott Government from 2013, Malcolm Turnbull was the Minister for Communications and Drew Clarke was appointed to head the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. So the relationship between Abbott and Credlin was close and built on power and the relationship between Turnbull and Clarke was close and built on power. In 2017 Drew Clarke went on to bigger and better things when Drew Clarke was appointed to the Board of the NBN.
    So from the stepping stones and their grinding and crushing you can draw conclusions of argument when Abbott and Turnbull chaffed and grimaced against each other and competed against each other. Abbott would put on and pay for extra consultants and bypass his minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull.That would make the relationship worse until Turnbull had a chance to challenge and oust Abbott out of office as PM in 2017. The hatred for each other may have been intense. When Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister he probably let the wheels turn and did not reduce speed against a foe so Turnbull also increased spending on consultants. All that competition in two men is probably how is was that the spending on consultants increased from $380million to $700 million. One man had to out-do the other.
    Under Abbott, his minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull had to show his talent and solve the problems of the NBN at minimum cost as Malcolm had come from a banking background from the world renowned Goldman Sachs. So Turnbull chose “copper” wiring from the house to the node and he would have been advised in this by Drew Clarke who is now on the Board of the NBN. From the public now in the NBN there are complaints about that copper wiring.


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