Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.
- Joseph Conrad, born on this date in 1857

Many characters paid tribute to Tony , a man who has dedicated the better part of three decades to public service, and who has never failed in all those years to put the taxpayers ahead of himself. Tony is a role model for bright young Australians who wish to heed the call to service of President John F. Kennedy in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

There are times when speakers fight to find the right words, but at Tony's farewell, they flowed like water from a spring - Tim with significant others drowned in extraordinary stories...

Extracts from Tony's Reflections … You could see the years of reflection flashing before his eyes ...

The Union
I was signed up in the union in my first week. Terry …in Expenditure was also a union delegate. I got more and more involved in the FCU TOB… Conference delegate and up to National deputy president … Wonderful people and all were committed to improving the circumstances of their fellow tax officers. Some hilarious and embarrassing moments in the union…
• At my first national Executive meeting I drank a bottle of port with dinner… I was sure my eyeballs were on my cheeks the next day…
• Doing the worm on the roof of a hire car at Hume Weir…
• The behind the scenes discussions and preparations when the FCU TOB merged with ACOA to form the now CPSU…
This created a solid foundation on ensuring that all individuals in the [the agency] were valued and respected.

Office liaisons
I started my romance with Narelle, and informed a mate that I was dating this great “chick”, he of course wanted to meet her so next time he was visiting me I took him around to Narelle’s desk… She was not there and before I could say anything my mate said wow your dating a chair… The people I had to put up with …

Things I will not miss
Looking back on a career of 33 years it has been a wonderful journey and has included meeting many great people, but like all journeys there are bits that I will not miss:
• Meeting report deadlines… In fact any urgent report, minute or briefing, especially senate estimates and QONs.
• The frustration of putting forward an innovation or change.
• Governance
• …Internal spin… If we say it often enough we might believe it.
• System instability
• Funding reductions and doing the same output with less. This in itself was not so much the problem as also being hamstrung by being required to use existing procedures.
• Agency Agreements
All of these things make it a pleasure to be walking away and not looking back. I look forward to doing something different.

What I will miss
The downside is what I will miss… The people I have worked with. It is the people that make it a pleasure to work in the (office) and it is the people I have worked with that have helped me to get to 33 years of service. This experience has gone through a range of feelings including: serious, fun, pressured, sad and memorable. It is the people that I will miss. Fortunately I will still catch up with the Sydney and St Leonards golf groups and with those that attend the [sport] Carnival.

It is strange when you think about it. We are a service organisation. It is the “value add” of our people that makes the difference to our outputs. Yet we seem to have an inordinate obsession with our systems and practices. It seems to me on reflection that in an organisational sense we should be putting the emphasis on the people in the organisation. A happy and engaged workforce is a productive workforce… Whilst the intent is to have engaged staff there is no

I look back on my career in the [public service], it is with satisfaction that I reflect on my achievements and joy at the people I have worked with on that journey.

Good luck to all and enjoy the people you work with.

As you all know I like to finish with a quote - I am also a big fan of Richard Bach and he provided this famous goodbye quote:

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.

A collection of colourful movers and shakers and friends of Tony and Johno Johnson:


Once was Camelot in Canberra? Reflections on public service leadership

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