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Trust crisis: can a big government still act local and involve citizens?

Stephen Easton writes in The Mandarin (27.11.17): ‘To earn back public trust, perhaps the “policy elite” need to get over themselves. Big government might be back, but better solutions may also lie in more participatory, place-based services, co-design with citizens and collaboration with other actors.’

His commentary continues: ‘There’s a crisis of public trust in the processes and institutions of government, part of a growing distrust of all voices that once spoke with authority, and people who work in the public sector need to work out how to respond to the phenomenon.

‘“I think in many ways we’re long on description but short on solutions,” commented Griffith University Professor Anne Tiernan last week, in the opening session of the annual Institute of Public Administration Australia conference.

‘The institute’s new national president Peter Shergold reeled off worrying statistics and his own fears about the death of reasonable public debate. Tiernan chose not to linger over the same ground but sees “potential sources of optimism” amid the gloom.

‘She and many others think at least part of the answer could be found in more localised, “place-based” initiatives that involve citizens, policy wonks, frontline public servants and service providers working together.’

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