Minding the minders: addressing the problems of ministerial staff
Ministerial staff assist overburdened ministers to cope with the demands of their positions. But recent controversies involving ministerial staff have exposed a number of features of the staffing system that are inherently problematic, raising questions about how this large, active and powerful group of political actors can be accommodated within the Australian core executive. The 2002 Children Overboard controversy was a catalyst for a wide-ranging debate about the role and influence of ministerial staff. The Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee's subsequent inquiry into staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984, canvassed a variety of reform proposals to address problems of ministerial staff accountability, conduct and behaviour. Several of the reform proposals, notably a Code of Conduct for ministerial staff, and measures to render the staff accountable for their actions, are already in place in the Australian state of Queensland. Using recent case study evidence from Queensland, this paper evaluates the utility of the reform proposals in addressing the problems of ministerial staff.
Australasian Political Studies Association Conference 2005