Tasmanian Times


Would you like your children to be like your Premier?

I decided to log onto your website last week and I was most surprised to see such interest in my previous letter, Labor’s deals: the real cost?, and I thought I’d try to answer the question about how we (intelligence analysts) might make judgements about the quality of a government.

Of course, I cannot reveal any of our actual methods but I can try to give some unclassified pointers that might help in useful assessments.

First, it’s important to appreciate that we don’t see the world in the same way that politicians and the media describe it. Both of those groups have hidden agendas that can distort and conceal important information.

As analysts, our view is both stark and simple and is based on repeated experience with patterns of human behaviour. The same patterns seem to keep repeating with only the actors, time and locations changed.

It’s normally either hope or fear that leads to votes

Most people recognise such a view as realistic but, despite their experiences, seem to prefer to keep hoping that what they are being told by politicians is actually true. After all, it’s normally either hope or fear that leads to votes.

It’s also important to understand that government has the money, resources and authority to do whatever it takes to achieve social goals. They can start wars, imprison their citizens or undertake initiatives that increase the happiness and wealth of everyone.

When persistent problems occur in a high-tax environment, such as Australia, then serious questions must arise about the competence, direction, priorities and honesty of the governments.

Government is there, at least in part, to reduce social ills and when they fail to achieve this, people turn to drugs or crime or become alienated from society and businesses close while needed talent leaves. Of course governments don’t want to take responsibility for such problems but if they can’t do anything, why are they there?

Cover up some mistake or corrupt activity

When looking at a government, we are interested first and foremost in what the actual results of their policies are. What governments say is often of little interest or value as their words are too often attempts to get re-elected, justify tax increases or cover up some mistake or corrupt activity.

Of course, if we’re talking TO the government we have to pretend to believe their words, but it’s their behaviours that count. If you think about it, this is probably true in all human endeavours and interactions. In fact it is commonly expressed as the idea that “actions speak louder than words”.

By looking at the results of government policy, we short-circuit a lot of difficulties in interpreting what people mean when they say things.

This is how I noted that a key outcome of your government’s actions seemed to be the transfer of assets from the public to the private sector, which looks very much like a ‘plunder while they’re there’ strategy – i.e. politicians and others using the public’s trust for their own ends without any reference to community needs.

One good indicator of problems is how many ‘minders’ and ‘spin doctors’ a government thinks it needs, after all why have them if there’re no dirty secrets? How many do you have in Tasmania?

The priorities in Tasmania

Once we understand a government by the results it achieves, we can focus on figuring out their real priorities, again without paying too much attention to what they say.

In Tasmania it looked to me as though the priorities were:
1)conceal the actual priorities with ‘spin’, bluster or threats,
2)massive transfers of public assets to select private sector groups,
3)reduce debt and/or build surplus,
4)various other things like tourism and then, well down the list…
5)alleviate the suffering of needy Tasmanians (eg hospital, dental, aged care).

I’m sure that using the techniques described readers can come up with their own lists and reach their own conclusions. We can then go on to interpret what governments say in light of their real, observed priorities.

If my simple priority list for Tasmania is indicative then I’d question the state of the democracy itself, so I’d look for other clues. For example, in Australia your defamation laws preclude public revelations about people actually guilty of serious offences; this suggests high-level compromises that defeat democratic principles. Such evidence indicates that corrupt activities are not only tolerated, they are protected by law!

I’d then look to see whether senior politicians were moving to correct the weakness or avoiding action; that would help us understand the types of people and activities that they were supporting.

Looking after the shop until a real leader comes along

I’d also look at what the government or country was all about, what was their guiding principle, goal or aspiration? What vision of the future are their activities organised around? In the case of Tasmania or Australia, I have no idea what vision of the future the government is pursuing, neither did I meet anyone over there who could describe it to me.

Without a guiding vision I’d conclude that the politicians were not leaders at all, they are just looking after the shop until a real leader comes along.

A ‘look after the shop’ government can be distinguished by its focus on order for the sake of order, rules for the sake of rules and so on. Such a government does not inspire the population in any way and their political campaigns are based on their abilities as ‘managers’. When a government focuses a country on management, it manages resources and money as if they alone are the keys to prosperity and happiness. Too often they ignore human needs and the needs of social groups and communities.

Such a government also tends to keep a country in stasis while the rest of the world is changing. For example a glance at your telecommunications infrastructure shows it to be well out of step with advancing economies, in fact the OECD has told Australia that its overall infrastructure investments are too small. Your labour laws appear to be going backwards as do your health and education systems, plus many community activities have been lost due to insurance requirements.

Without leadership, there is no-one to inspire Australia or Tasmania to become a leading light of anything, there are only tiresome speeches about money and efficiency; elaborate excuses for failure and abstract justifications that allow others to plunder your resources.

Would you like your children to be like your Premier?

As a test, ask how inspirational your Premier, or your Prime Minister, is. Would you want your children to be like them? Are you looking forward to your future?

One last tip, keep a scorecard of how your government is doing, the results that they actually obtained. It’s hard to remember their real performance after years of promises, press stories, rhetoric and lies so write down the things that are important, the hospital collapses, the betrayals of public trust, the scandals along with any good achievements.

Such a record is a much better guide to voters that the hokum of an election campaign.

So there you have it, one way to assess the performance of a government. The results might look pretty bleak but at least they’re honest and it’s only by honest appraisal that we, as humans, can usefully work out what to do next, where to put our priorities.

Our decisions are helped enormously by a vision that shapes a broader meaning for society and defines a future that we can reach together, and that can benefit everyone. Such a vision unites people in complementary activities regardless of distance.

All substantial progress appears to be guided by far sighted and desirable goals that benefit all, goals that shape a broader meaning for society and sketch out a future worthy of greater effort and unity – goals that inspire collaboration and innovation and that usher in an era of exciting and positive change.

I truly wish you well with it.

Adele Sainte-Marie
N.B. The nature of my work means that I can’t provide contact details. If you want me to contact you, put a note on your site although it might take me some while to respond depending where I am etc.

For an analytical breakdown of Adele’s ideas go to:
Table of wealth transfer in Tasmania

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Geoff

    March 21, 2005 at 10:58 am

    Mate, Fawlty Towers is a Higher Being’s gift to Earth, I love it. (Notice my PC in referring to a Higher Being rather than God, Allah, Barnsey…)

  2. Jason Lovell

    March 21, 2005 at 7:26 am

    Must say I couldn’t agree more with Geoff. The topics raised by Ms Sainte-Marie are valuable, but the decision to create what appears to be a completely mythical resume rather than base it in some reality is, as Geoff says, cringeful.

    It’s embarrassing – like trying to watch a particularly “good” episode of Fawlty Towers or The Office …

  3. Geoff Rollins

    March 15, 2005 at 4:40 am

    I was expecting a tirade of “Geoff’s an arsehole” posts, after my original reply, and whilst I’m sure they will come it is pleasing to see Tomas Rignoli’s post which is spot on in my opinion.

    The email from ‘Adele Sainte-Marie’ is creative rubbish conjured up by a Tasmanian with certain views that they feel they must push through means other than their own name to give it credibility. By claiming to be in a position of authority and mystique (but not actually undertstanding the role of an IA) the author stuffs up, royally.

    The position of Intelligence Analyst (also known by several other similar titles) can involve work across a broad organisational spectrum. Australian examples of employment opportunities for IA’s include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) and the Office of National Assessments (ONA).

    In Canada where the author claims to be from, IA’s work within organisations with similar objectives – the Community Security Establishment (CSE) being closely related to Australian examples.

    The examples provided should require no explanation of duties involved or objectives expected. However I know of no organisation that operates to evaluate and “make judgements about the quality of a government”, except for the voting public who make the ultimate decision.

    If such an organisation did exist, what use would they be? We have all manner of private and media experts to provide their opinions on the quality of government. Even if some external body came out and said that a particular government was a poor performer, what weight or value would that have? None in practical terms.

    Furthermore, if the author’s fictional organisation did exist, there is no reason why it would operate under national security clearance provisions. People who require higher level security clearances from Government, do not advertise this fact nor amateurishly crap on about providing “unclassified” material, not being able to provide an address, and not knowing where they will be from day to day.

    The more I read both articles from this particular author, the more it makes my skin crawl and makes me cringe with the sort of embarrassment you offer someone who has just made a big fool of themselves in public.

    To the author: if you have something to say, or an agenda to push, do it under your name and without the false pretences you have used to try and add weight to your argument.

    Geoff Rollins

  4. Tomas Rignoli

    March 14, 2005 at 6:31 am

    First, can I say what a wonderful site Tasmanian Times is – well constructed as well as very interesting and entertaining.

    However, the problem with sites such as this is that it becomes a venue for any opinion, no matter how lacking in fact and substance.

    In this regard, unless the e-mails by “Adele Sainte-Marie” fit your particular set of prejudices, in which case I am sure that they are lapped up, a careful look at both posts indicates that they are lacking in substance and credibility. I would suggest that the name is made up, that this person is not an intelligence analyst and, unless I am sorely mistaken, likely to be a local with a particular axe to grind on environmental issues. Thus, I look forward to further comments by her brother Roger Sainte-Marie, a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Otherplacia, who is concerned that loggers are purposively cooking and eating freshwater crustacea during their lunch break.

    Let’s not forget her sister, Dr Gertrude Sainte-Marie, a concerned general practioner who without any formal research training is willing to claim harmful effects on below-detectable amounts of toxins on human populations living in possibly the cleanest corners of the habited world.

    And that is fine, as it adds to the entertainment value of the site. Bring on more wacky, poorly thought-through arguments under doubtful pseudonyms I say! It makes a nice break on the circular arguments by the usual crowd with too much time, bandwidth and shallow ideology on their hands.


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