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1998-05-01 19:21:23


Going Under Down Under: Australia's Government



There is serious talk in Australia that some departments of the government may not survive in 2000.

"Some." I respect such optimism.

This is from THE AGE (April 18).

* * * * * * *

The Federal Government has made new allocations of $127 million, and departments are spending an additional $470 million from budgeted allocations. Yet the Government seems to have a much bigger year 2000 problem than any of our large companies.

No one will go on the record but, privately, some of Australia's leading managing directors who have committed big sums now believe it is too late for Canberra to solve its problem even if it was prepared to spend a billion or two.

Also, privately, the word in Canberra is that the chief executives have it right, and during the next six months the Government will have to confess to the Australian public that many departments are unlikely to be operational on 1 January 2000. In New South Wales that fear extends to the State Government. . . .

In Canberra, deciding which departments are not essential will, of course, cause an enormous scramble because all departments believe they are essential. The first hint that Canberra is facing up to the inevitable came in the announcement of the new allocation of $127 million. The bulk of the funds will be used to ensure that key services are fully operational through 2000.

Examples of key services might include social welfare and employment payments, defence and national security, health and security, and revenue collection. My guess is that most other Government activities will have a lot of trouble delivering services. And in the "essential" areas, health is particularly vulnerable.


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