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Political administrative relationships : a study of three Tasmanian departments

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Chapman, R. J. K.(Ralph J. K.) (1976) Political administrative relationships : a study of three Tasmanian departments. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Administrative agencies, Administrative agencies, Executive departments
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1978. Bibliography: l. i-xviii

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:39
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2016 06:12
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