No more ‘jobs for mates’ as Labor promises public sector board reviewFebruary 5, 2023
Public sector board appointments will be the focus of an Albanese government review aiming to restore merit to the process and stop political allies from being handed lucrative positions.
Finance and Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher will on Sunday announce the review, pitching it as the latest component of the government’s election promise to bolster trust in public institutions and improve integrity.
Katy Gallagher will announce the public sector board review.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“This review is all about putting an end to the jobs for mates culture that defined the previous Morrison government’s public sector appointments,” she will say in a speech on Sunday.
“Being on a government board should be about what you know, not who you know.”
The review, which the government hopes to finalise by mid-year, will be led by Lynelle Briggs, a former Australian Public Service Commissioner, chief executive of Medicare and an aged care royal commissioner.
The review will focus on making board recruitment more transparent, improving the diversity of board membership and clarifying the role of public sector boards and the skills required. It will also look at how ministers are advised on the selection of board members.
Former aged care royal commissioner Lynelle Briggs.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Gallagher will tell the Labor-aligned Chifley Research Centre event in Canberra the Morrison government made a mockery of the board appointment system.
She will note that half of the Productivity Commission’s Board members have a political connection to the Coalition, and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal was filled with members with Liberal Party links. The government recently abolished the AAT due to concerns about politicisation.
“I look forward to Ms Briggs’ robust recommendations on how the government can put merit and integrity back at the centre of the public sector appointment process,” Gallagher will say, according to an excerpt of the speech released ahead of the event.
Labor says it will use its first term of government to begin the process of remaking the Australian public service, which it claims has been hollowed out through cuts and outsourcing to consultants, lost its ability to develop sound policy, and is reluctant to give the frank and fearless advice it is supposed to provide.
Some of these problems – which former University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis has been appointed as public service head to address – have been highlighted during the ongoing royal commission into the robo-debt scandal.
The public sector board report will be published after the review is finalised in mid-2023.
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