Thursday, July 09, 2009

Concern over "probity" reaches new levels of absurdity

An item in today's Age suggests there is a problem with a Ministerial adviser meeting with representatives of a successful tenderer two months before tenders were called.

Are they serious? In the matter there is evidently a Senate committee concern with the probit surrounding the award of the contract (raised by the displaced firms).

But please, does meeting with Ministers prohibit a firm from winning a contract? Do we really want our politicians living in a bubble?

My own experience is that the nature of probity advice to Government does not reflect the avice of ANAO. That advice is complete transparency, in practice it becomes absolute secrecy and attempts to remove Government completely. The current probity rules effectively prohibit a person with information that could suggest the tender is representative of poor policy and should be stopped from providing that information to the relevant decision makers.

We need to encourage communication between Ministers their advisers and Departments with industry, not discourage it. By all means provide some extra rules on transparency. But let's stop the nonsense that talking = corruption.

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