Abbott makes a mockery of 'methodical' government

Paddy Gourley   The Coalition needs to rethink the role of independence in the public sector.

Latest articles

Parkinson's fall: a lesson for secretaries

Martin Parkinson

Richard Mulgan   Senior bureaucrats should take part in public debates, but only with the consent of ministers and without provoking opposition parties.

Are public servants over or underpaid?

MONEY 040219 AFR .PICTURE BY Gabriele Charotte /   GENERIC money, purse, savings, bank, atm, economy, interest rates, home loan, wages, salary, superannuation, bills, notes, pay, coins, investment, share market, sharemarket, stock exchange, trading, shares, funds  , fifty-dollar notes, wallet, $50-dollar bills, cash. 50 dollar notes. 50 dollars

Markus Mannheim   It's time for a systematic review of public servants' pay: a genuine attempt to determine the value of their labour.

The fluffy argument behind asbestos secrecy


Public Eye   The ACT government's bizarre, and embarrassing, approach to the question of whether to tell Canberrans which houses may be toxic.

Lloyd equipped to tackle long-neglected woes

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd in his new office last month.

J. R. Nethercote   The new commissioner may restore relevance to the Public Service Commission's work.

Luke Foley: from faceless man to media tart

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.

Stephen Holt   The NSW Opposition Leader's many past rebuffs show he is in politics for the long haul.

No compo after boss snapped worker's breasts

Woman studying

John Wilson   A Queensland case highlights the shifting area of law that covers workplace psychological injuries.

'Do I tell my colleague I know they're gay?'


Jacqueline Jago   Your obligation to respect privacy extends to your colleagues. Gently signal support and then leave it alone.

'I don't know how to stop feeling bitter'


Jacqueline Jago   Public service advice column. We put your workplace conundrums and questions to an executive coach.

Corruption must be managed, not wiped out


Mark Jarratt   Security vetting, fingerprinting, drug testing and other "silver bullets" will not prevent staff misconduct.

When prejudice overwhelms good pay policy

Pay day, remuneration, money in envelope.

Andrew Podger   The labour market, not budget restraint, should determine the price of the skills the government needs.

Car allowances: a lesson in driving prices up


Public Eye   Senior executives have been receiving ever higher car allowances on the basis of "recovering" allegedly increasing costs - for no clear reason at all.

No tipping, please: a clumsy stance on climate

Steam rises from a chimney at the Junliangcheng power station in Tianjin, China.

Robin Davies, Jonathan Pickering   There are no good reasons for the Abbott government to refuse to support the fund and plenty of good reasons to take part.

The delicate dance of the PM's top bureaucrat

MAIN MAN: The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's new head, Michael Thawley.

Richard Mulgan   The Abbott government has shown no sign of seriously threatening the APS's non-partisan professionalism.

'Crying in the office? No thanks'


Jacqueline Jago   Coach at work advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

Clearing a brief without breaking a heart

Red pen, editing

Jacqueline Jago   Supervising with sensitivity doesn't need to be a divine mystery.

Improving, but we must improve even faster

Australian Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick.

Stephen Sedgwick   The bureaucracy faces smaller budgets, a more demanding public - and the need to be better than ever.

Off to war in 1914, without a way of funding it

Gallipoli Peninsular; Turkey.

J. R. Nethercote   Australia entered World War I on the cusp of an election, and funded its military campaign illegally.

Chaos in Canberra as strike action nears


John Wilson   Large-scale disruptions to the bureaucracy would irritate the public and hurt the government.

Who cops it if a contractor breaks safety laws?

A caution sign warning of a wet floor.

Jennifer Wyborn, Emma Vautin   The punitive powers of the federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011 may stretch very far.

Big stick used to reform risk management

HINDSIGHT: It shouldn't take royal commissions to see the potential for disastrous consequences when departments ignore risks.

Mark Harrison   Senior public servants face potential sanctions, even the sack, if they fail to take risk seriously.

Whitlam: Pied Piper of the baby boomers

Illustration: Pat Campbell

J. R. Nethercote   Appraisals of the Whitlam era have been marred by narrowness and selectivity.

The delicate art of delaying decisions

ballot bot

Grahame Morris   There are benefits in seeking advice from outsiders but governments can't put off decisions forever.

Comments 9

The spurious case against John Burton

Former departmental secretary and diplomat Dr John Burton in 1954.

Ernst Willheim   It's time to withdraw public claims against one of Australia's most brilliant public servants.

What happened to the naked exec?


Public Eye   'Who hasn't run starkers through a crowded thoroughfare?' we hear you ask indignantly. What's the public interest in tracking down this exuberant senior public servant?

Public servants still secretive about contracts

Transparency secrecy generic

Richard Mulgan   The bureaucracy, rather than private businesses, tends to be most enthusiastic about "commercial-in-confidence" embargoes.

Will we ever learn from Mid East debacles?

Soldier from the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando).

John Menadue   'Doing something' against Islamic State may make some people feel good but it won't deal with the problem.

'My bully boss is killing my career prospects'

"Buy some time, space and perspective by getting a medical certificate."

Jacqueline Jago   We put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

Legal limits of drug testing in the bureaucracy

Swab test: Courts have found the type of test - urine or saliva - affects its legality.

John Wilson   How would courts react if the public service decided to drug test all of its employees?

How agencies should respond to strikes

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood.

Jennifer Wyborn, Emma Vautin   Industrial action is an evolving part of workplace relations law and a constant source of ambiguity for employers and their staff.

Risky business: dealing with gung-ho policy

The deaths of four installers were linked to poor OH&S practices.

Richard Mulgan   Public servants should heed the Hippocratic dictum: first, do no harm. If that makes them seem unduly risk-averse, so be it.


Ludicrous, pay policy

Linking pay to productivity at the agency level is bad economics.

Gough: the Pied Piper

Appraisals of the Whitlam era have been marred by selectivity.

The art of delaying 

Governments can't put off decisions forever.

Sex, spies and lies?

The spurious case against one of our finest servants: John Burton.

'Bully boss is killing me'

We put your workplace woes to an executive coach.

The Speaker & 'the Aussie'

The parliamentary row that reached from London to Canberra.

How worthy are cops?

The federal police appear to be suffering from medal fetishism.

Useful job descriptions

Agencies still struggle to write effective, helpful job descriptions.

'I hate my staff'

Judy and Carina: a common tale of our lack of self-awareness.

No trust and confidence

The recent Barker case shows agencies should play it safe.