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Bach case exposes “shameful double standard” – PSA

PSA Media Release

20 April 2012 - For Immediate Use

Bach case exposes “shameful double standard” – PSA

The decision today that senior public servant Katrina Bach will receive only a warning despite having been found to have physically handled a junior staff member exposes an unacceptable double standard, the PSA says.

The State Services Commission has released its report confirming allegations that Bach, the Department of Building and Housing chief executive, swore at, and, in a subsequent incident, physically handled a member of staff last year.

“This kind of behaviour – in which Katrina Bach swore at a staff member, and put both her hands on the staff member’s head while saying, ‘What is going on in that head of yours?’ – is completely unacceptable,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“If an ordinary staff member had done this, they would probably have been dismissed. The PSA knows of public sector workers who have been dismissed for lesser incidents. If this isn’t a sackable matter, it’s not clear what is – and the State Services Commissioner needs to explain why he has taken such a mild course of action on so serious a matter.

“Allowing her to keep on working with only a warning, and an unspecified ‘monetary consequence’, is a shameful double standard.

“The PSA is also concerned for the wellbeing of our members in the Department of Building and Housing, given the signals the State Services Commission is sending.

“The State Services Commission claims to ‘hold the bar high’ for chief executives’ conduct, but in fact this episode shows that chief executives are held to a lower standard than their staff members.

“There have also been unacceptable delays in taking nine months to reach a finding on a relatively straightforward allegation. The State Services Commission should, from the start, have taken control of this case and ensured that standards of integrity were met.

“All in all, this case has been damaging to the reputation of the public service.”


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