The broad spectrum of bias in Government concerns us greatly as it is one of the key drivers of corruption.
Bias is not a singular phenomenon but multi-faceted; there is
Biase – Straight-out overt behaviour that erodes good governance.
Unconscious bias – Implanted in those susceptible to be used by those who peddle bias – the manipulators.
Confected bias – Created falsely to fit in or be accepted by others or to achieve a personal advantage – the career ladder climber.
Manufactured Bias– A process where an entity or person creates an environment influencing others to follow a bias that suits their purpose for power or control –
Among these traits, the Manufactured Bias is the most insidious and destructive.
For an apolitical organisation, we would not normally make comments that could be construed as partisan; however, the ex-Premier Daniel Andrews has entered the debate with a strange and somewhat ludicrously twisted set of hypotheses that really do ‘take the cake’.
We, as many Victorians, have been trying to encapsulate just what makes the ex-Premier tick and now we know, not from a media OPED but from the ex-Premier himself.
He has now exposed all in his most recent interview. Although much of what he said was no surprise, it confirmed what many of us suspected.
The ex-Premier has been the architect of Manufactured Bias, and this attempt at rationalising his behaviour is absurd.
This theory, which we have called Manufactured Bias, is something that the ex-Premier will be best remembered for.
The term that we coined was after reading the ex-Premiers version of his style of leadership as reported in the HS 9th December 2023.
What is concerning and explains a lot of where we are as a State is how Andrews sees Victorians; we are either “haters and the rest vote Labor” he said.
Or conversely, if you don’t vote Labor, you are a hater.
The irony of that statement is many of the victims of his style have been Labor voters, and no concession was ever offered to those voters. This includes shutting down the party rank and file branches, giving him free rein.
The convention that elected political leaders work for all Victorians under his premiership was a myth as we all suspected, now exposed in the context of a brag.
He clearly identified any criticism of him in not-too-glowing terms, indicating his flawed dictatorial management style and giant ego, he couldn’t countenance he could be wrong.
The flaw of his style can now be clearly identified from his own words and is best described as Manufactured bias. This is the method he used to operate with impunity outside convention and perhaps even outside the law.
To manufacture something, there needs several components, amongst them: an idea, a design, a key driver, resources to facilitate the manufacture (a budget) and a marketing plan. The sustainability of the manufactured item, or philosophy, hinges largely on how effective the ‘key driver’ is at convincing the market that the manufactured item is a necessity, irrespective of any consequences.
Of the two major components, the fiscal management plan is the primary one, and clearly, there just wasn’t one. Pillaging the State coffers and then incurring huge debts in the name of the State will adversely impact generations for many years and cannot be interpreted as getting ’shit done’.
We suspect that there is debt both on and off the books and when fully audited, will be explosive.
Anybody can do extraordinary things without the constraints of fiscal responsibility.
By any measure, regardless of what and how grandly something is manufactured, fiscal irresponsibility is a project failure.
The other serious failure exposed was Andrews’ attitude to the legal system.
His claims about the role of some who he accuses of trying to usurp the authority of elected representatives is the foundation of how ‘Manufactured Bias’ is nurtured and manifests.
Obviously aimed at the former head of IBAC and the Ombudsman who dared to be critical of him.
The ex-Premier’s lack of knowledge of the legal system is breathtaking. These officers are not usurping the authority of the Premier or the Parliament or anything of that nature because both are acting within the legislation that the government designed and created.
That is how a democratic system works, and their independence is critical to reining in unlawful actions, either procedural or criminal; critical to the checks and balances.
If there is a problem perceived with their function, change the legislation; it is contemptuous to try to just usurp their authority.
The Premier’s twisted logic on this issue might explain why his behaviour, ‘I can’t remember’ when examined, was a contagion affecting most of the ex-Premiers acolytes also subject to examination.
The ex-Premier was the one usurping the Parliament’s authority and, with his admissions, may be in contempt of the Parliament.
Referring to Public Servants, again arguably aimed at IBAC and the Ombudsman, he said,
“They have opinions and views, and they’re more than entitled to those. But see, what they’re not entitled to … (and that’s) to pretend that anyone voted for them. Not entitled to pretend that they’ve somehow got a mandate that is equal to, let alone superior, to the duly elected government.”
It is true they do not have a mandate from the people, but they have something much more significant: an act of Parliament bestowing specific powers and independence, something that the ex-Premier did not and could not control.
From this statement, the ex-Premier also accuses the work of the law officers of pretending to be ‘superior’. The ex-Premier saw the elected Government, led by him, as ‘superior’, implying above the Law. This may go a long way in explaining the attitude and memory losses the ex-Premier experienced when appearing before inquiries or being investigated.
That behaviour did cause very negative leadership of those within the Government who felt that they could take comfort that memory loss would protect them. A ‘protection racket’ led from the top by example. The concept of accountability was dismissed as irrelevant.
It is that contempt and, arguably, arrogance directed at the two Authorities that have emboldened many others within the government to flaunt the law in the belief that they were untouchable. ‘Manufactured bias’ manifested.
And to boast Mr Andrews said,
“ he’d rather be remembered for being forceful, making tough, necessary decisions and “getting shit done” than for achieving little during his term.”
It is this statement that resonates and will probably define his legacy.
Anybody can “get shit done” if you do not have to be accountable and have access to unlimited funds.
Andrews omitted to claim his most significant achievement, saddling all Victorians with a debt that will take many generations to repay, a yoke for our children’s children and more. Accompanied by no plan on how the debt may be serviced let alone acquitted.
What makes this even worse is that on that measure alone, fiscal irresponsibility, bordering on radical indifference, he will not be remembered fondly or respectfully.
Viewed collectively, the reality of ‘Manufactured Bias’ and the growth of this concept has been allowed and fertilised by Andrews’ leadership style in Victoria and is best described by a CAA-supporter comment on the CAA website at https://caainc.org.au/explaining how it works in Victoria Police, there is no doubt a similar approach is applied Government-wide.
“Because they are subjected to the ideology daily in memos, lectures, training courses and private conversations, they know that if you want a promotion, don’t upset those at the top. It’s the softest corruption there is, and it’s obvious to anyone who looks but is very difficult to root out.”- OMG.
The Victorian Ombudsman, Ms Debora Glass, has produced a ‘damming assessment’ of the politicisation of the Victorian Government; however, the report fell short of recommending any prosecutions, and it didn’t even make recommendations for the need for further investigation.
The reasons for this, and a number of other issues investigated by the Ombudsman over a number of years, indicate a pattern of ‘falling short’ as the norm.
We would argue that the problem is far more insidious than the Ombudsman has determined, while her investigations into various decisions, although relevant, mask the real need for detailed examinations of the functions of the alleged nepotistic appointees by the Government.
The Ombudsman’s investigation was flawed and failed to properly investigate unconscious bias exercised by Senior Government appointees.
As well as looking into the matters covered and identified in her report, the issue of bias in appointments can be accurately determined by patterns of historical management behaviour.
“Politicisation is far more nuanced, complex and potentially pervasive than simply the practice of hiring your political mates.”- Ombudsman.
One example that demonstrates an unconscious bias is the management and function of Victoria Police in the operational strategies employed in matters of civil unrest and demonstrations.
It is highly unlikely that the Operational Commanders at these demonstrations were the same officer, so how is it that the strategies are only ever consistent with the government’s ideology?
There have been a number of demonstrations where the Police response has varied to a degree to indicate that either actual or unconscious bias is at play. Consistency in Policing demonstrations is sadly lacking, we argue, because of the bias.
In particular, the lack of police action at the Black Lives Matter rally, the overreaction to anti-COVID demonstrations, the lack of any action at the Anti-Trans Rally and, of late, the Pro-Palestinian/HAMAS civil unrest all have a common denominator: the action of Police can be seen to mirror the ideology of the Government on the purpose of the demonstration, and that is a very bad thing.
“But nothing will change without a recognition at the highest levels of government that change is necessary.”
It corrodes standards of public governance, decision-making in the public interest and trust in government, and if left unchecked increases the risk of corrupt criminal offending.” -Ombudsman.
On that point, the protestations of the Ombudsman fail.
The highest levels of Government do not see an issue because, to them, the status quo is appropriate and a right, part of the spoils of Governing.
It is abundantly clear that the checks and balances that should prevent this problem either do not exist or are not enforced.
Simply raising the issue has little chance of achieving a satisfactory result. It is imperative that the inquiry continue to examine where the checks and balances have failed and what remedial action is necessary.
Starting with a search for answers measuring executive managers’ accountability and performance against the position’s benchmarks.
The infection of bias is near epidemic proportions, and it can be averted tomorrow simply by holding executive managers to account, starting with the most senior ones. It would only take a handful of Senior executives to lose their position because bias was identified in their sphere of control, and very quickly, bias would be diminished dramatically if not eliminated.
Unless this Government acknowledges that there is a problem, nothing will change. Positive action is required.
No public servant should receive a bonus if they have not exceeded their accountability and performance levels.
For a cultural change, as that is what is required, it is necessary that failure to perform free from bias must be managed by the greatest motivator, their hip pocket.
The breaking down of law and order in Victoria has been evident for some time, but recently, this concept has accelerated to a very worrying level.
The past is only relevant to identify patterns; the future is the worry, as it seems nothing is being done to arrest the decline.
Currently, the situation where demonstrators, seemingly with impunity, do whatever they can to intimidate another sector of the community, instilling gross fear on any part of the community, is unacceptable on so many levels.
Worryingly, is that the intimidation is so vitriolic it is only a ‘hair’s breadth’ away from violence.
The seriousness of the situation cannot be downplayed, and yet the Police, who are responsible for maintaining law and order, seem ineffective through bias.
This is not the Australian way.
The bias by Policing has been developing for some time, and we suggest it has a lot to do with the failure of the principle of the ‘Separation of Powers’[i], a long-held presumption that has been eroded, and the management of public order is where it most obviously manifests.
The failure of this principle, where the decisions and responses to public order are tainted by Political bias, is a two-way street.
The blatant direct involvement of politics in decision-making has become far less obvious, but we are sure it still occurs; what has evolved is a far more insidious, unconscious bias. A will to please political masters or those who support the government without direct interaction.
The Police have no role in allowing partisan views to influence responses but must respond on the basis of maintaining law and order, and that includes protecting vulnerable groups and all citizens; the issues and reasons for disquiet must never influence the operational response.
Some of the disquiet in police ranks that has provoked industrial action recently has been attributed to the Forces’ obvious bias.
This move toward partisanship with the government of the day has been an attempt by Governments to own police powers and have a far greater say in the operations of Policing, a repugnant concept that might seem fine in theory, but, as we have seen, makes Policing ineffective.
The current demonstrations against Israel by pro-Palestinian groups supporting Hamas are a case in point.
The basis of the demonstrations is those allegedly opposed to Israel’s response to the attacks, hostage-taking and murders committed by Hamas. The role of Victoria Police must not be influenced by the reasons for the demonstration but by providing a Police response to maintain Law and order and should be as concerned with protecting the abused Jews as they should be for those who identify as Pro-Palestinian.
The accusation of police bias is a ‘hot button’ issue sure to raise the ire of Police executives. Be that as it may, the matter is immensely serious, and the issue of the breakdown of the ‘Separation of Powers’ and biase must be corrected.
To ignore the issue will be a blight on the capacity of Police Senior management as this issue lies at their feet.
The following list of incidents indicates beyond doubt that bias is at play and must be addressed.
Black Lives Matter – passive police response acting as spectators.
COVID-19 – aggressive police response including use of firearms on demonstrators – aggressive role extending over numerous occasions for two years, including chasing and dispersing demonstrators using defensive weapons like pepper spray as an attack weapon. Tea bagging protestors to make them breach the COVID rules.
Sundry environmental demonstrations – passive police role acting as spectators.
Pro-Palestine (Hamas) demonstrations -passive police response acting as spectators.
We do not support unnecessarily aggressive responses but demand the Police apply the law without fear or favour, malice or ill will, absolutely, irrespective of the issue at hand.
Following this principle will rapidly improve and rebuild the image and confidence that the community had in its Police, and the police members will be able to return to the non-partisan positions they once were able to hold in their professional capacity, improving the morale within the organisation so that the workplace again becomes non-partisan.
We acknowledge, however, that the government has a lot to answer for by diluting the Police power to manage these issues by repealing the ‘move on’ Laws.
It has seriously diminished police authority to perform their task.
By removing those powers, the closest analogy is a law to remove the ability of doctors to carry a stethoscope when working in Emergency Rooms (ER).
The Victoria Police can and must do better operationally, free from Government pressure and interference.
[i] In Australia, the power to make and manage laws is shared between the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. The separation of powers avoids any person or group having all the power. https://peo.gov.au/
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