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A new era for the Australian Public Service and the ANU: speech at the opening of the J.G. Crawford Building at the ANU, Canberra.
The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP
A new era for the Australian Public Service and the ANU
Speech at the opening of the J.G. Crawford Building at the ANU
8 May 2010
I acknowledge the First Australians on whose land we meet, and whose cultures we celebrate as among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
It is great to be back here at our national university.
My visits are becoming so regular I'm expecting Ian Chubb will soon renew my old student card.
I'm back for a good reason.
Not just to remember where Therese and I met.
And not just because of Chubby's relentless lobbying for the ANU.
But because the ANU has a very special role in driving one of the Government's key objectives â building better links between the expertise in the academic community and the Australian Public Service.
Last August I spoke at Burgmann College about the special history of the Australian Government and the formation of the Australian National University.
I spoke about the need to reinvigorate that rich and fruitful relationship for a new century with many new challenges for policy makers and for government.
Today I want to discuss how the Australian Government plans to take the relationship of the Public Service and the ANU forward.
And how we plan to take forward the reform of the Public Service itself.
To be frank, Australia is not so flash at connecting the work of academics with the work of government.
Too often, our education and research institutions inhabit a parallel universe to that of government and the public service.
Whether it's Canberra, or Melbourne, Sydney or other major cities â our academics can occupy the same space as public servants, but it's as if they transmit on different wave lengths.
They know of each other's existence.
But they don't often tap into the relevance of each other's work.
So their connections are not strong.
And both are diminished as a result.
Academic work is less empirical and less relevant.
And policy making is less wellâinformed and less effective.
The Government I lead is determined to take a new direction.
And the Australian National University is at the heart of this new direction.
To build a stronger, more productive relationship between the Government and academia.
And a stronger, more skilled and more innovative Australian Public Service.
Good for the university â given its leading national role in research and education.
And good for the APS â which stands to gain much from access to the best new research on difficult challenges, and from a more highly skilled public service.
The building that we open today recalls one of Australia's greatest public servants.
Sir John Crawford was an outstanding example of strategic leadership and collaboration between academia and government.
His contribution to public service, economic policy, agriculture, academia and international relations spanned from the 1930s to the 1980s.
It is extraordinary to consider the scope of Crawford's career.
From being recruited in 1942 by the great Nugget Coombs to the Department of Postwar Reconstruction â the crucible of a generation of extraordinary public service leaders.
And right down to advising Prime Minister Bob Hawke in the 1980s, on the early steps that would later lead to the formation of the APEC forum.
Sir John's career saw outstanding service in both government and academia.
He led the departments of commerce, agriculture and trade.
He was one of the great architects of Australia's postâwar growth.
He was an outstanding humanitarian, a major force behind the development of Australia's overseas aid policy, and a man with an inspired vision for Australia as a source of principle and fairness in building new institutions for a global world.
On so many matters, Crawford was way ahead of his times.
In 1960 Crawford crossed the Molonglo River as it was then â now Lake Burley Griffin â and came to the ANU.
His contribution here was as rich, productive and diverse as it had been on the other side of the river.
He became professor of economics in and director of the Research School of Pacific Studies here at the ANU.
Later he became viceâchancellor and then chancellor.
He was determined to build the links between the university and government.
He made it a condition of accepting the ANU job that he must have the freedom to take part in government inquiries and policy making.
And so he did â though governments did not always take his advice.
In 1965, for example, the Menzies Government was not persuaded of the need for a greater role for government in economic planning, despite the recommendations of Crawford and other members of the Vernon Committee.
Sir Robert Menzies dismissed the Vernon recommendations as the mere "pretensions of academic experts".
Clearly, Menzies had strong views about the difference between the two sides of Lake Burley Griffin â academics had their place, and government had its.
Crawford's leadership at the ANU saw extraordinary progress.
From reâestablishing the department of international relations, to contributing to the establishment of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, the Contemporary China Centre, the North Australia Research Unit and the AustraliaâJapan Research Centre.
Centres that have each upheld the goal of productive engagement with government.
As we look to renew the relationship between the ANU and the Australian Government, there is no finer example than John Crawford to inspire that vision.
Since coming to office almost two and a half years ago, the Government has been tackling many of our longâterm future challenges.
From the education revolution to the national health reform agenda.
From tackling climate change to advancing a vision for an Asia Pacific community.
From dealing with entrenched problems like homelessness to building a more productive, competitive economy.
And through this time, dealing with the deepest crisis in global financial markets and the global economy in the past 75 years.
Strategic policy leadership and strategic policy advice is essential for each of these challenges.
It is difficult to provide strategic policy advice.
And while the Australian Public Service does a fine job, I believe we can always strive to do better.
Cabinet sets the Government's strategic goals.
That is a fundamental precept of our Westminster democracy.
But Cabinet will do that job much better if we have the best possible advice from our public service.
And public servants will be in a much better position to offer us the best advice if they have the best analytical skills and access to the best research from those with specialist knowledge.
And that is where the university community comes in.
Public service fosters the development of generalists, with excellent skills at solving problems and administering programs.
Universities foster the development of specialists.
Of course we need both, and they should complement each other.
But too often, public servants and academics don't talk to each other at all.
Or, when they do, they talk past each other.
You can see this in academic research that doesn't take account of real world constraints.
You can also see it in public service advice that lacks analytical clarity and ignores academic research and evidence.
Too often, public servants and academics stay in their ivory towers and concrete castles â just occasionally sticking their heads over the parapets to peer out to the world beyond.
The world, we might say, on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin.
The challenge we face is to build an ongoing dialogue.
That means public servants taking a stronger interest in research, and cooperating with academics in their field.
And it means encouraging academics to recognise their research could have greater impact when it deals with practical challenges for policyâmakers.
Though to make it clear, it does not mean academics abandoning their independence, and nor does it mean that all research should have immediate relevance.
Consider the complexity of the policy challenges on which the Government is acting.
â¢How do we tackle entrenched disadvantage so that children growing up in lowâincome areas get the literacy and numeracy skills and educational opportunities of other Australian kids?
â¢In the health system, how do we build a genuinely integrated health and hospitals network, where patients experience a seamless transition between hospital and community based services?
â¢How do we manage the challenges of a new resources boom and a twoâspeed economy to the lasting benefit of all Australians?
These are all areas where expert research is of great value as a key input for policy makers.
The Government has sought to elevate the role of academic experts in many of our policyâmaking processes during the past two years:
â¢on the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, whose recommendations helped shape our landmark decisions on the National Health and Hospitals Network;
â¢with the reform of the Australian Public Service, on which Professor Glyn Davis of Melbourne University and Professor Patrick Weller of Griffith University contributed as advisers; and
â¢through the Review of Australian Higher Education, led by Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley.
Australia's think tanks also play an important role in shaping policy debates and influencing policy outcomes â through centres including:
â¢the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney;
â¢the Grattan Institute located at Melbourne University; and
â¢the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, a partnership with Griffith University.
But these examples are the exception, rather than the norm.
Our challenge now is to build much stronger links across the public service and across the university community in the future.
Last September I announced a review to drive the future of the Australian Public Service, under the leadership of the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran.
Their report, Ahead of the Game, was launched on 29 March.
It sets out a comprehensive blueprint for reform in four key areas:
â¢the first is to forge a stronger relationship with citizens through better delivery of services, and through greater involvement of citizens in their government;
â¢the second is to strengthen the capacity of the public service to provide strategic, big picture â advice that addresses the most difficult challenges of the day;
â¢the third is to invest in the capability of the public service workforce â
â¢through better recruitment and training; and through greater mobility within the public service;
â¢through alignment of conditions across agencies;
â¢and through a better approach to managing employee performance;
â¢and the fourth area for reform is to improve the efficiency and quality of the public service â
â¢by creating agencies that are agile, capable and effective;
â¢by helping them plan;
â¢and by helping them improve their performance.
The blueprint made 28 recommendations under those four themes.
I want to thank Terry Moran and the advisory group for their work on the report.
Today I am pleased to announce that the Government is accepting, in full, the recommendations of the APS reform blueprint.
We are committed to building an Australian Public Service with a culture of independence, excellence and innovation â in policy advice and service delivery.
And the recommendations in the report provide a roadmap to achieving that goal.
A key finding of the report is the need to reinvigorate the public sector's links to the outside world â with academics, research institutions and with private sector experts.
Strengthening those links is a key part of strengthening strategic leadership in the public service.
I'm pleased that responsibility for strengthening this relationship is being taken up by the new Secretaries Board â the highâlevel APS leadership body whose establishment was a key report recommendation.
Another key element of reform is to strengthen training and skills development within the APS.
Responsibility for this and other aspects of workforce planning and recruitment will be taken by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).
In line with the recommendations of the APS review, every public servant will be expected to take part in some learning and development activity every year.
Every department and agency will be required to provide, every year, for each public servant, a significant opportunity to take part in some learning and development activity, including training and education, onâtheâjob training, and coaching and mentoring.
Every year, the APSC will create a learning and development strategy to drive this process.
And it will design and implement a performance framework across the public service that encourages them to develop their knowledge and skills.
The Australian National University will have a key role in building a better, stronger Australian Public Service.
To that end, I am pleased today to announce a major development for the Australian National University and its relationship with the APS.
Last year, I came to the ANU and spoke about our need to strengthen the institutions behind public policy making in Australia.
I spoke of institutions like the Kennedy School of Government in the United States â an institution where the flow of experts between government and academia sharpens expertise in both.
An institution whose ethos reflects John F. Kennedy's great call to service â "Ask not what your country can do for you â ask what you can do for your country."
The Kennedy School is a collection of eminent social science research institutions, comprised of 15 institutes and research centres and over 30 executive education and degree programs.
Together, these institutions draw on the resources of the entire University to make the School a centre for training enlightened public leaders that attracts some of the best students from across the world.
I said it was time for Australia to aspire to building a uniquely local version of the Kennedy School.
Today, I am pleased to announce an historic step towards this vision, with the establishment of the Australian National Institute for Public Policy (ANIPP) here at the ANU.
As a prominently branded entity, the Institute will focus the expertise of several of the ANU's centres and schools that work in public policy and will also draw on the expertise of ANZSOG.
The Institute reflects a new partnership between the public service, ANZSOG and the ANU and will ensure Government draws on the wealth of expertise that exists across the ANU and ANZSOG networks.
The first pillar of the Institute will be an expanded Crawford School of Economics and Government.
The Crawford School is a recognised leader in public policy education, thinking and innovation across the range of policy areas.
The expanded Crawford School will maintain its focus on public policy research and research training, along with courses in public policy.
However it will include new programs to build stronger links between academia and public policy implementation and conduct research relevant to the public policy priorities of the Government.
The other foundation pillar for the Institute will be an enhanced presence for the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).
Through ANZSOG, Australia has built a unique public policy and public sector management institution.
It is a model uniquely adapted to the Australian federal system, bringing together a consortium of Governments and universities from around the country.
As a result, Australia finally has high quality public sector executive leadership training and development of a standard superior to most places in the world.
The ANZSOG presence in Canberra will be expanded, to help it achieve its goal of building executive leadership in the public service, through its courses with a vocational professional focus on public administration and public sector management, and its public sector research program, led by the Sir John Bunting Chair in Public Administration.
Last month, I announced the establishment of the Australian Centre on China in the World and the National Security College.
Both these institutions will be part of the Australian Institute of Public Policy.
The Crawford School will also host one of the most important tasks for the new Institute â the HC Coombs Policy Forum, which will draw expertise from across the ANU and ANZSOG.
The Coombs Policy Forum pays tribute to Nugget Coombs, one of the greatest Australians of all, and the man who recruited John Crawford into the Commonwealth Public Service.
The role for the Coombs Policy Forum will be to help translate highâquality public policy research into useful, innovative published analysis for use by the APS and other governments.
This is often the missing link in the relationship between government and the university community.
The Forum will conduct roundtables, conferences, seminars and public lectures, and will also host a highâlevel international Fellowship program.
It will also provide tailored information and advice to Parliament and the public service through briefings, policy consultancies and other forms of collaboration.
The Institute will also improve links between research and public policy by supporting PhDs for APS employees to undertake research in key areas of public and economic policy.
These PhD scholarships will be provided through the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation.
The Commonwealth will provide up to $14 million over four years to the ANU to support the establishment of the Institute.
The expansion of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation will be supported by a $7 million oneâoff grant from the Government and matched by contributions from the Sir Roland Wilson estate and the ANU.
These new funds are in addition to the $35 million foundation grant for the Australian Centre on China in the World, and the funding for the establishment of the National Security College of up to $17.3 million, that I announced last month.
I believe the ANU is the ideal venue for the Institute of Public Policy â for precisely the reasons the university was established in Canberra 64 years ago.
Its proximity, its research excellence and its international reputation in public policy make the ANU the natural partner in the Australian Government's plan for strengthening the Australian Public Service.
As we look to the future of a new Institute here at the ANU, today we open this magnificent new building.
In many ways this building will be at the heart of the new Institute of Public Policy.
The designers of the JG Crawford Building have done a great job of blending the new building with the Old Canberra House, an important part of the ANU's heritage.
Old Canberra House was built in 1913 to provide accommodation for the Territory Administrator in its earliest days.
It was the first substantial house associated with the new capital.
And it is now part of the latest addition to Canberra's list of outstanding public buildings.
I also want to congratulate on the ANU on the work done to preserve the other heritageâlisted cottages nearby â the constable's cottage, the gardener's cottage and the chauffeur's cottage.
The architects' vision is for the JG Crawford Building to create a courtyard heart for the public policy precinct, with the aim of fostering interaction among the community of researchers, scholars and practitioners in these surrounds.
It is the hub of the dedicated new public policy precinct here at the ANU â creating an environment for first class research, teaching and collaboration.
The Government will also be providing up to $37.9 million for two new buildings to further enhance this precinct; one for the China Centre and one for the the National Security College and ANZSOG.
All up, the Australian Government will invest up to $111.7 million in the ANU public policy precinct to create a world class facility for public policy researchers, teachers and practitioners.
Sir John Crawford was a great nationâbuilder.
A builder of the economic and social policy, of national institutions and of the ANU itself.
This building celebrates his legacy and calls for the development of a new generation of nationâ builders.
Policyâmakers and policy analysts with a vision to make a difference and build a stronger and fairer Australia for the 21st century.
It plays an important part in the Government's vision for a first class public service, with exceptional people, providing strategic leadership, doing outstanding work for the citizens of Australia.
I repeat what I said last year: that my overarching ambition for the Australian Public Service is that it should aspire to be the best in the world.
We want to make the APS a top career choice for our best and brightest â a rewarding and intellectually challenging profession, with world class training and tools, that helps create a better future.
The Australian Institute of Public Policy and the APS reform blueprint will help equip the leaders of the Australian Public Service of today and tomorrow â the policy analysts, advisers and public sector leaders.
In short, the nationâbuilders of Australia's future.
In that context it gives me great pleasure to declare open the home of the Crawford School for Economics and Government, the JG Crawford Building.