OZ circus - Bosses told how to lie

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Bosses told how to lie
By BRAD NORINGTON, Industrial Editor

Full details of a Federal Government blueprint for dealing with its own employees advises heads of the Commonwealth Public Service how to deliberately lie, confuse, discredit and provide misleading information as negotiating tactics.

The document, part of a training package developed within the department of the Workplace Relations Minister, Mr Reith, is causing a storm in the public sector as unions claim the Government is not willing to bargain in good faith.

Included in Dispute Management, a manual prepared so that individual departments can handle their own negotiations on wages and conditions, is the advice to "make false demands".

"When you have many demands, introduce a few false issues. This disguises your serious interests and allows you to make concessions thus giving the other party sense of gain," the document says. It also outlines how to stall for time or do nothing, to walk out "when you pretend to have withdrawn but are really still available", to issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums, to appear irrational and to make threats.

Among the most controversial sections of the document - first mentioned at a Senate committee hearing in February - is the advice to discredit negotiators on the other side by associating them with "some unsavoury connection" and to support a case by providing biased misinformation.

The Opposition spokesman on industrial relations, Mr Arch Bevis, said that it was unacceptable for the Government to associate itself "with false demands and to basically lie" and called on Mr Reith to withdraw the document.

Mr Reith said he had no comment to make. He said the document had nothing to do with him and that questions should be directed at the minister responsible for Public Service negotiations, Dr David Kemp. This is despite the manual having been written by a consulting group operating within Mr Reith's own department, Workplace Partners Training Services, for circulation to other departments.

Mr Bevis said that Mr Reith's department chief, Dr Peter Shergold, was among the leading exponents of the manual. Dr Shergold, when first questioned about the manual in February, alluded to a paragraph which says that the list of tactics was "not meant to be an endorsement of all the tactics included".

However, Mr Bevis said: "It is a disingenuous position for Mr Shergold or Mr Reith to put this advice in a government document and then try to suggest that the Government is not negotiating with a clear intent to use some or all of these tactics."

The manual does not advise government departments against using any of the tactics. It notes that some may be regarded as "ethically dubious" and says it is important to recognise a tactic, ethical or otherwise, when it is used, in order to counter it successfully.

Mr Bevis said Labor would outlaw practices in the manual and legislate to ensure that government agencies "bargained in good faith".


Make false demands
When you have many demands, introduce a few false issues.

Stall for time
Call adjournment, caucus, reserve answer until later. A similar tactic is Do Nothing.

Give ultimatum
State your final offer on a clear 'take it or leave it' basis (but be wary of sounding offensive).

Discredit Associations
Associate the other party/other party's case with some unsavoury connection.

Make negative comments
Use for brief periods as this tactic can cause antagonism.

Give a biased samplebr> Provide statistical (mis)information. Support your case by selecting the most favourable (biased) sample.

Pretend ignorance
To delay proceedings, or to put the other party off guard, act ill informed and ask advice.


The rural Australian imbroglio with the Canberra circus is complicated by the plotting of our illustrious 'adminisphere', who publish such dross as found above. It's salve to my cynicism and it affirms what some of us have feared - Reith is toxic. Even his colleagues reckon this bloke is off - deader than a dodo. To think he was touted as Prime Minister material once.

Regards from Down Under -

-- Pieter (zaad@icisp.net.au), April 25, 2000


"ADMINISPHERE" - those rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the 'adminisphere' are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

.....posted if you didn't know.

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 25, 2000.

Hard to believe they would write it down. These methods are tried and true in many corporations who have to deal with unions. This is why unions were formed in the first place!

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think.dilbertlives), April 25, 2000.

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