Tuesday, April 27, 2010

State paid to discredit transport criticism

The above was the title in an article in yesterday's The Age newspaper. Accountant Paul Zabakly billed the Victorian government (i.e. the taxpayer) $5,500 for 4 days work to discredit Dr.Paul Mees, an academic who is an expert in public transportation. Dr.Mees says he doesn't know whether to be flattered - despite employing over 1100 staff, the Transport Department needed to pay someone to respond to him, or to be disappointed - that it took them only 4 days.

Apparently accountant Paul Zabakly has been paid $2.6mil over 8 years to assess finances on the privatized train and tram systems. It is possible that over the years he has gathered enough information to be an expert himself. On the otherhand, Dr.Mees left his job at Melbourne U when the university threatened him with demotion following a complaint from the Transport Department for his criticism of the privatized transport systems. It is possible that Dr. Mees has a bone to pick, although I don't believe in this stretch of the imagination. But my point is this: I think it is inappropriate for the state government to quietly pay someone to heap criticisms on another person. As Dr.Mees pointed out, doesn't the government have all the data to refute his claims? What was the grand idea of paying someone else to do so? Is it because the outsider can say anything true or untrue and not be held accountable?

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