Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello.
Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello.

600,000 ways to screw the taxpayer

ABOUT $600,000 of taxpayers' money is being spent by a government bureaucracy to buy 90 self-help books and then provide training so staff can decipher its "powerful lessons in personal change".

And after being informed of the cash splash, Finance Minister Victor Dominello has demanded Service NSW justify the "roll out" of a professional development­ course based on the US book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

The cover for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R. Covey.
The cover for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R. Covey.

Written by business guru Stephen R. Covery, the psycho­babble book can be bought for as little as $6 but retails new at Dymocks for $25.

It defines maturity as "the balance between courage and consideration" while habits are "the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire".

"By working on knowledge, skill, and desire, we can break through to new levels of personal and interpersonal effectiveness as we break with old paradigms that may have been a source of pseudo-security for years," the book says in one section. The book is littered with anecdotes, but the author says ultimately God is the "source of our conscience".

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The program, officially estimated to cost $595,000, will be provided to about 2300 Service NSW staffers over two years.

The 90 books will be shared. About 700 people have already completed the two-day course, which costs about $216 per person.

"The course is internationally recognised and the results speak for themselves - more than 95 per cent of our course participants say it has helped improve their effectiveness," a NSW Service spokeswoman said.

The program is being run to improve customer service and teach employees how to work in teams.

But Mr Dominello is now demanding Service NSW explain "the effectiveness of this program and its benefits compared with other professional development programs" after he was alerted to it by The Daily Telegraph.

"Service NSW has transformed the customer service experience for citizens across the state," he said.

"But I acknowledge that we must strike a balance between investing in these sorts of programs and ensuring taxpayers receive value for money. I will ask Service NSW for advice on the effectiveness of this program and its benefits compared with other professional development programs."

He also said he would "ask Service NSW to consult ... more closely on these matters going forward."

The book instructs readers to visualise their funeral as a way to have a "personal understanding" of habit number two: "Begin with the End in Mind".