Government and governance, Law, Arts, culture & society | Australia

5 April 2019

This week on Policy Forum Pod we take a look at the recent review of the Australian Public Service, and ask whether its recommendations can transform the bureaucracy to make it fit for the future, or whether years of creeping politicisation, outsourcing of projects, and a drain of talent have taken too high a toll.

Can the Australian Public Service transform itself into the trusted and united bureaucracy it wants to be, or has creeping politicisation broken the public trust and confidence in it as an institution? This week on Policy Forum Pod we take a look at the APS review and find out whether it really will make it fit for the future. Our expert panel – Helen Sullivan, Bob McMullan, and Harley Dennett – discuss some of the challenges facing the APS and whether the recent review’s recommendations can tackle the big issues. Listen here:

Our presenters, Bob Cotton and Julia Ahrens, also take a look at an Australian budget that sounded a lot like an election pitch, and how the country is tackling (or not tackling) climate change. They also chat about some of your comments, discuss some ideas for future podcasts from members of our Policy Forum Pod Facebook group, and ask for your help with next week’s 100th episode of the pod.

This week’s expert panel:

Professor Helen Sullivan is the Director of Crawford School of Public Policy. Her research and teaching explore the changing nature of state-society relationships; including the theory and practice of governance and collaboration, innovative forms of democratic participation, new thinking about public policy and the practice of public service reform.

Harley Dennett is the Editor of The Mandarin – the website for public sector news. He is a Ministerial Appointee for the ACT LGBTIQ Ministerial Advice Council.

Bob McMullan is a Visiting Fellow at Crawford School, following a long and distinguished career in the Australian Parliament as one of Australia’s pre-eminent Labor politicians, during which time he held a number of Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial positions across a broad range of portfolios.

Our presenters for this podcast:

Bob Cotton is a Visiting Fellow at Crawford School. He has a strong interest in public policy issues, including Australia’s engagement in the Asia Pacific Region. He is a mentor at the National Security College.

Julia Ahrens is a Communications and Engagement Coordinator at Crawford School and a presenter for Policy Forum Pod. She is also an Associate Researcher at the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Hottest March in Australia

Four Corners episode Climate of Change

Water wars in the Murray-Darling Basin – Quentin Grafton & John Williams

ABC resource Federal Budget 2019: Winners and losers

Independent Review of the APS: Priorities for Change

Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Martin Parkinson’s views on Australia’s public service

Working better with other jurisdictions – Ben Rimmer, Cheryl Saunders, and Michael Crommelin for ANZSOG

Former PM Tony Abbott sacks departmental secretaries

Labor warns top bureaucrat public service’s apolitical role at risk – Doug Dingwall (SMH)

Terry Moran on greater governmental accountability

A Guide on Key Elements of Ministerial Responsibility (‘McMullan principle’)

Crawford School’s postgraduate degrees

Crawford School’s short courses

Podcast: Countering violent extremism

German prosecutions on National Socialist Underground

Information on Australia’s current Royal Commissions

To read the transcript of this episode, please click here.

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunesSpotifyStitcherSubscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

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