10 years assessing government performance

Bruce Childs & David Carey

The first issue of the Evatt Foundation's annual assessment of the performance of Australia's State governments was published in 1994. The series has aimed to promote the idea that governments should be assessed according to how well they serve their citizens, not the extent to which they serve the narrow interests represented by commercial credit rating agencies. 'After all', as Professor Bob Walker wrote in the first issue, 'governments are not brought into existence to run businesses but to provide services'.

The initial 1994 issue expressed the hope that the series 'will be an annual publication which will provide a source of reference for the overall evaluation of Australian government performance'. It is therefore with a good deal of satisfaction that I write this foreword to the 10th anniversary issue.

Thanks and congratulations to the unions that have sponsored the project over the years. Thanks to the researchers who produced the annual assessments. In Richard Denniss, Dr Bill Pritchard, Dr Christopher Sheil and Stephen Rix, who produced this anniversary issue, the series has been well served. Thanks also to the contributors, staff and officials who assisted in the bringing the reports to life. We look forward to 10 more years of The state of the states.

Bruce Childs
President, Evatt Foundation



As the sponsor of the first two issues, the State Public Services Federation (SPSF) is pleased to assist in supporting the 10th anniversary issue of The state of the states.

Writing in the initial issue ten years ago, the former Federal Secretary acknowledged the SPSF's 'responsibility to State government workers, and to citizens, to stimulate discussion, analysis and debate about the role and future of the States in the federation'. Ten years on, there is, if anything, even less public focus and debate on the performance of Australia's State governments. The need for reports such as the Evatt Foundation's annual assessments thus remains undiminished.

Ten years after my predecessor also despaired that our 'State governments continue to dismantle their public sectors', as the special additional sections in this anniversary issue demonstrate, privatisation continues in many guises, although now usually under euphemisms such as 'public private partnerships'.

Congratulations to the Evatt Foundation. It should not be necessary to note that no performance assessment can be perfect, for it is the public awareness and debate that they promote that matters, if our democracy is to have a substantial meaning.

David Carey
Federal Secretary, State Public Services Federation

This is the foreward from the special 10th anniversary issue of the Evatt Foundation's annual assessment of Australia's sub-national governments, The state of the states.

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