Queens Honours for public servants

Government should be a referee, not an active player.” ― Milton Friedman

In the early 1990s Queensland Treasury was dominated by commerce and economic thinking that government could not efficiently deliver better infrastructure in electricity, ports and rail especially in a high growth economy … Treasury thought the corporatisation of Rail, Electricity and Ports was needed thus laying the groundwork for future privatisation and sell-off of public assets (some would call it sell-out, sic). Qld Treasurer Keith de Lacy appointed Gerrard Bradley who took over as Under Treasurer in February 1995.

Under the guise of financial modernisation, Treasury stopped Queensland Rail from raising cash for infrastructure by increasing coal freight charges. UnderTreasurer, Gerard Bradley, helped introduce different accounting standards (accrual rather than cash) to make Qld Rail and the Queensland Electricity Board more accountable to Qld treasury. Treasury negotiated freight contracts directly with mining companies and reduced state revenue by cutting royalties on coal.

Government House CANBERRA ACT 2600

14 June 2021 Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List

The Governor-General is pleased to announce the following award:

Mr Gerard Patrick BRADLEY of Taringa QLD 4068 For distinguished service to public administration, to economic policy, and to the community of Queensland.

Dr Rudd on Climate Change

In 1996 the new LNP treasurer, Joan Sheldon, had Bradley walked from his desk in the Executive Building by security guards. He was asked to see Joan Sheldon and was told to go on leave immediately, no reasons were given. Bradley was offered other roles but opted to leave the Queensland public service. His colleagues talked through the changes with him. John Hall, who had been dismissed by the Goss government mentored Bradley on what to do.

In the end, Bradley did what many Labor appointees did, he migrated south to serve Labor governments caught in rapture over introduction of neo-liberal economic policy as a means of reducing public debt.

Bradley helped privatise the South Australian electricity system which was to collapse spectacularly in February 2017. Queensland Labor’s unquestioning support of coal fired stations led to a mini collapse of the system in June 2021.

While the Goss government advanced democratic rights under the Peacefull Assemblies Act 1992 it was a disaster for economic policy, it laid the groundwork for privatisation of the crucial public asset, Queensland Rail.

It seems fitting that the word’s richest woman, Queen Elizabeth, should bestow birthday honours on a Queensland public servant who oversaw the sale of more public assets than any other Labor Under Treasurer. Like others, Bradley and his contemporaries, whether aware or not, followed Milton Friedman’s maxim that is is cheaper to sell public assets than to keep them. This thinking was to cost the Queensland economy dearly.

Margaret Thatcher in Britain demonstrated the severity of neo-liberal policies and Gerard Bradley followed by organising the sale of public assets both in South Australia and Queensland. Our railways, ports, power stations, roads, dams, mining resources and other public infrastructure were sold under Bradley’s watch. Some of Bradley’s work is documented in these pages.

If Kevin Rudd was Dr Death to the Queensland public sector, Peter Beattie was the salesman. He brought Bradley in from the cold to continue corporatisation and capital expenditure started in the 1980s and continued by the Borbidge LNP government. A National Electricity Market (NEM) was introduced in the 1990s which created tensions and greater ‘reform’.

But Queen’s honours are not all about Bradley, people like Professor Kevin John Brophy and Peta-Louise Credlin also received awards.

Brophy of Brunswick in Victoria got his for ‘significant service to tertiary education, and to creative writing‘ and Credlin of East Melbourne as assistant to former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Ms Peta-Louise Mary CREDLIN VIC 3002 got hers for ‘distinguished service to parliament and politics, to policy development, and to the executive function of government’. The Abbott government eschewed climate change, rejected same sex marriage, sent refugees offshore, refused to tax mining, bought submarines off the shelf, Abbott became the shortest-serving Australian Prime Minister since William McMahon,

Ian Curr
16 June 2021