Approaches to the Merit Principle in Queensland Public Service Recruitment 1859-2000. From rich and dumb to gender discrimination to politicisation?
The traditional career service model of public employment was ostensibly based on the merit principle, designed to ensure employment on what you knew rather than who you knew, and to remove patronage. However, the image of public servants is often poor, and many are perceived as having little real merit. This article reviews approaches to merit in the Queensland state public service. It finds that, in earlier times, the merit principle was often enshrined in primary and subordinate legislation, but was subsequently moderated by social values including gender and class discrimination, and by circumstances such as wars. This had implications for the skill levels and quality of public employees, and therefore for public policy and public services. In recent decades, the merit principle has been subjected to extensive redefinition and has been subordinated to the desire for greater political control of public services, and pursuit of 'responsiveness'.
Australian Journal of Public Administration