Opinion

Public Sector Informant: How Anthony Albanese and public servants can preserve the apolitical APS tradition

By Richard Mulgan
Updated July 8 2022 - 3:14am, first published July 4 2022 - 7:30pm
Professor Glyn Davis was brought in to replace Phil Gaetjens to run the Prime Minister's department after the former Liberal staff lost the confidence of the new Labor government. Picture: AAP

After its election victory, the Labor Party lost no time in pointedly offering full support for the Australian Public Service, as a mark of difference from the outgoing Coalition government. The prime minister-elect, Anthony Albanese, echoed previous Labor policy, introduced by Kevin Rudd, that incumbent secretaries would keep their jobs. There would be no night of long knives on the model of John Howard or Tony Abbott. His declaration was made possible by the immediate, voluntary departure of Phil Gaetjens, the secretary of the Prime Minister's department. Mr Gaetjens had forfeited the confidence of the Labor opposition by allowing himself to be openly identified with the political interests of Scott Morrison. As a career public servant, he would have recognised that his new role was to facilitate a smooth transition of power, which in his case meant a quick exit, leaving a capable deputy in charge.

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