Perks for Politicians and Public Servants

Perks for Politicians and Public Servants

Hi all,

Today’s post a fairly parochial, so please forgive me.

In recent times Australian news has been filled with stories about politicians and public servants getting “freebies”. Some of these may be from lobbyists. Some may be from commercial interests. The general consensus seems to be “It’s not fair that they get such freebies.” Such freebies include overseas trips, dinners, attendance at sporting events and so on. I wish to add my two cents’ worth.

Before I do so I want to provide examples from my very own experience. I apologise that I will not use actual organisational names or reveal actual identities in doing so. Basically I don’t want to get myself in trouble. But everything I write is true and I saw it with my own two eyes.

  1. At the beginning of the 1990s I was the Special Events Coordinator for a major Australian University. Graduate and Community Relations (my office) had the mission of engaging graduates and business with the purpose of increasing donations to that University. I’m not talking about a few measly dollars either.


  1. Very interesting post, Greg. Sad that the NWS TAFE commission didn’t simply do the research on the cost and make it very public knowledge about how much more it would cost to move to ‘the dumps’ instead of staying in the ‘ivory tower’. And yes, lobbyists provide expert research – but then the corruption comes when the lobbyists for the richer sector produce bribes – sorry – gifts – for the recipient of the knowledge, when the lobbyists for the opposing group (often environmentalists or underserved communities) can barely afford to get people to the politician to pass on the opposing viewpoint.

  2. Hi 🙂 Thanks for responding.

    Personally I think that it would have been pointless for the NSW TAFE Commission to have released the facts. Once people have a belief about something, facts will not change their opinions. Indeed, facts are more likely to convince people that something shady is going on. There is a lot of psychological research supporting that including the concept of “disconfirmation bias”.

    I agree that the wealthy elements of society can purchase or manufacture “evidence” to support their cases and perhaps that underlies the aforesaid distrust that the public has of evidence that contradicts their notions of the world. I have no answer to this.

    In respect to politicians and their support of any cause, the key to remember is that at the top of their priorities are a) their need to be in the political party that controls government and b) their need to retain the popular vote that gives them their position as a representative of the people. In plain English, politicians will not support any motion that loses them votes and will always support something that gives them votes. A bribe will not hold much sway if it loses them their position or loses them government. They know this. We know this. That is why lobbyists manipulate the thoughts and emotions of the people before taking their case to the politicians. Environmental groups do not fail in the political arena because of the bribing of politicians. Environmental groups lose out because, to reference Al Gore, their truths are inconvenient to the majority of the public. Personally this saddens me immensely. But until voters shift their priorities, politicians will continue as they have. (Kind of like a political version of Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object continues to do whatever it happens to be doing unless a force is exerted upon it)

    Just generally in respect to bribery and the government. I first worked in a government position in 1983 and have mostly done so ever since (except about 4 years of private sector work). Despite having been involved in the procurement of a number of multi-million dollar computer systems, I have never ever detected even a whiff of bribery or corruption. This is not to say that corruption isn’t out there. I would be a fool to think that. But I do think that it is a lot less common than most people believe.

    Thanks again 🙂

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