University Of Tasmania
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Political administrative relationships : a study of three Tasmanian departments

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posted on 2023-05-27, 06:51 authored by Chapman, R. J. K.(Ralph J. K.)
Parliamentary government based on the British tradition may be viewed in many ways. One of the most often discussed aspects of this system of government, frequently referred to as the 'Westminster model', has been the position of the minister. Individual and collective responsibility Of ministers is regarded as the core of the model. The constitutional expression of ministerial responsibility is contained in the conventions surrounding. Cabinet, Executive offices, and the minister's membership of Parliament. Much has been written about these conventions, especially from an institutional perspective. The major concern of this literature has been with the politics/administration dichotomy as a manifestation of these conventions. The classical concept of the dichotomy has been stated in a number of ways, but is best known as a description of the respective roles of the political minister and the public service administrator. The Westminster model has this element as a central feature, and much of the structural framework of the model depends on separation of these roles. In the 1930s there was .a trickle of literature critical of the actions of politicians and public servants. This has since turned into a flood. Some observers perceived inconsistencies when the model was used to explain the operation of the system. Parliament was thought to be increasingly dominated by the Executive and ministers by their public servants; rather than controlling the bureaucracy, politicians were under their domination. The aim of this thesis is to ascertain whether the changes suggested in the critical literature have actually occurred. The relationship between ministers and their senior public servants is crucial to understanding whether the strict boundary is maintained between their roles as defined in the Westminster model. Some writers have doubted whether such boundary ever existed. The purpose of the thesis cannot easily be attained without some attention to methodology, and a suitable framework for analysis has been adapted from a similar study in the Washington State Executive. This framework provides criteria by which to compare the statements and actions of the participants: Without a set of conceptually derived benchmarks, statements and actions of participants in the processes can only be recorded in an impressionistic way which is not amenable to evaluation. In the empirical part of this study, three departments in the Tasmanian State Executive were selected. Interviews were conducted with ministers and senior officers. Chapters III,IV and V contain the result of these interviews and some historical research in secondary material. Through these studies it becomes quite obvious that the politics/administration dichotomy as expressed in the classical form is inadequate. Rather than a dichotomy there is a threefold division of activity between ministers and senior public servants. Ministers must exercise political leadership and some executive authority if they are to maintain their political credibility. Public servants are expected to contribute administrative capacity in addition to undertaking some executive authority. It is in the field of executive authority, that overlap occurs between ministers and public servants. For historical reasons, this is especially prevalent in the Australian States and close scrutiny is required to explain the balance of their relationships. As adapted to Australian State government, the Westminster model has to be interpreted in the light of this trifurcated, rather than bifurcated, explanation. Once this has been done, previous discussion of the operation of that system of parliamentary government is shown to be inadequate. The work of Reid on Australian Federal government and Self and Brown on British government are considered in the context of this altered appreciation. No attempt is made to derive generalisations for the Westminster model as a whole from this relatively limited study, but some further avenues for study are opened.


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Copyright 1976 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1978. Bibliography: l. i-xviii

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