Thursday, July 04, 2013

It's wrong to hire Treasury people?

1970s Treasury, National Archives. Creative Commons
But Hockey himself has hired Treasury people

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has accused Kevin Rudd of politicising the Treasury, describing the Prime Minister’s recruitment of a senior official as “a joke” and “wrong on so many fronts”.

On Wednesday, Mr Rudd announced that Treasury deputy secretary Jim Murphy, would be his new chief of staff.

Mr Murphy is head of the Treasury’s markets group and is well regarded in business circles.

Mr Hockey, also claimed the head of the Treasury, Martin Parkinson, had called him to complain about Labor appointing “so many” public servants as political staffers.

It is understood this conversation happened some time ago.

“At one stage the Secretary of the Treasury rang me up and expressed… disappointment that he was in a position where he had so many Treasury public servants in political offices,” Mr Hockey said on Thursday morning.

“He was doing the right thing in letting me know”.

A spokesman for Mr Hockey confirmed the shadow treasurer was referring to Dr Parkinson, but he would not reveal when the call was made or any further details of the phone conversation.

Fairfax Media has contacted Dr Parkinson’s office for comment.

Mr Hockey told journalists that “it politicises the Treasury” when politicians such as Mr Rudd and former treasurer Wayne Swan, recruit Treasury public servants into their political offices.

“This is a joke,” Mr Hockey said...

“Jim Murphy is meant to run the markets division of the Treasury… He has been plucked out to go and run Kevin Rudd’s political office as the most senior official in that office. It’s just wrong.”

Mr Hockey’s complaints ignore a long history of movements between the Treasury and politicians’ offices on both sides of politics.

Arthur Sinodinos moved from Treasury to the office of Coalition leader John Howard in 1987, returning to the Treasury in 1989 when Mr Howard lost the post. He rejoined Mr Howard’s office when Mr Howard was reappointed opposition leader in 1995, staying with him as prime minister and becoming his chief of staff. Mr Sinodinos is now a Coalition Senator.

Treasury assistant secretary Peter Boxhall and colleague Peter Hendy joined Coalition leader Andrew Peacock’s office when he replaced Howard in 1987. Mr Boxhall later worked in the office of Coalition leader John Hewson and Treasurer Peter Costello before being appointed head of the Department of Finance. Senior Treasury official Phil Gaetjens was seconded to Mr Costello’s office to replace Mr Boxall. He returned to Treasury when the Howard government lost office in 2007 and is now head of the NSW Treasury.

Treasury assistant secretary Don Russell joined the office of Labor Treasurer Paul Keating in 1985, later becoming his chief of staff as Treasurer and Prime Minister and being appointed Ambassador to Washington and head of the Department of Innovation.

Ken Henry was seconded from Treasury to Mr Keating’s office in 1986. He returned in 1991 and worked closely with the Howard government on the implementation of the goods and services tax before being appointed head of the Treasury by Peter Costello in 2001.

Dr Parkinson himself worked in the offices of Labor Treasurers John Kerin and John Dawkins from 1991 before returning to the Treasury and being asked by John Howard to run the prime minister's emissions trading task group in 2006.

With Jonathan Swan, in The National Times

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