Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Parliamentary Librarian Reseacher: Katy Gallagher - An APS that is future-fit and ready to support Australians for generations to come

 Like Former NSW Parliamentary Librarian (serving 42 years) Dr Cope, Charles Gallagher was an genuine article of the public servant and service …

Katy Gallagher: An APS that is future-fit and readyto support Australians for generations to come


When you’re a kid, you think yourparents are gods. And in a way, my father — in my eyes — was.

His first job in Canberra was in the Parliament Library, as a researcher.

As a parliamentary librarian, he was consulted by members and senators for advice and analysis. He moved across the public service, in Treasury and Health.

He had every book, every answer — and I couldn’t believe that the people I saw on TV, like the prime minister, would come to him for advice. I was in awe.

No matter who sought his help and who was in charge of the country at that time, my dad and his colleagues provided timely and impartial advice, analysis and service. He was, after all, a public servant.

As an adult, I still hold the same admiration for our public servants — especially after the past three years. Fires, floods and a global pandemic have meant that on top of being a wealth of information and expertise, our public service has often been the only source of stability during a tumultuous and often frightening time for many Australians.

As people lost loved ones, jobs and family businesses, the APS rallied to protect the health and livelihoods of Australians. In the early days of the pandemic as Centrelink queues snaked down the street, frontline public servants put aside their own fears and worries to relieve the anxiety of others. In the space of days, public servants pivoted their in-person work to be delivered online. Bureaucracy was pushed aside in favour of practicality. Huge shifts in policy happened within days or weeks.

It was an extraordinary time, and through it all, empathy prevailed. The people of the APS found the solutions and did so with unwavering stamina, determination and heart. All of this while they themselves were navigating the same “unprecedented times” the rest of us were.

Revealed: the private life of Katy Gallagher

It is both a blessing and a curse to live in interestingtimes. The pace hasn’t slowed much since the early days of the pandemic. The world we live in is facing unceasing amounts of change — and it is the task of the public service not only to keep up with the pace of change but, in many respects, get ahead of it. We can do this by innovating from within and harnessing the already formidable talent that exists within the ranks of the public service.

To be future-fit and ready to serve and support Australians for generations to come — this is the APS’s next big challenge.

The workforce of clever, committed and hardworking public servants are the Australian government’s secret weapon. But it’s one that’s been under-invested in for nearly a decade under the Liberals/Nationals. Internal capacity has been allowed to erode as investment has flowed out to consultancies and labour-hire firms. Taxpayer money has funded insecure work for public servants in a never-ending cycle of last-minute contract extensions. And I don’t think I would be alone in saying that we’ve seen a marked shift from government leaders in favour of politically convenient advice rather than that which is frank and fearless.

Under the Albanese government, that all changes.

This government went to the election committed to rebuilding a public service that is effective and efficient, empathetic and inclusive, collaborative and clever.

Last week, I announced the first steps we’re taking to make good on that promise.

We have an ambitious reform agenda that cuts across four key priority areas, seeking to create:

  • An APS that embodies integrity in everything it does,
  • An APS that puts people and business at the centre of policy and services.
  • An APS that is a model employer,
  • An APS that has the capability to do its job well.

We’ll be delivering on our commitment to reducing reliance on consultants by developing and piloting an in-house consulting model to strengthen core capabilities and functions in the APS. Not only is this about making sure taxpayer money is delivering value for money, but it will also give public servants valuable career opportunities and allow us to attract and retain some of Australia’s best and brightest.

We also think there’s no reason why people’s interactions with the government can’t be simpler and easier.

When someone is asking for help at their local Centrelink or using MyService to access support as a veteran, they don’t care which program belongs in what portfolio. They don’t care who this minister is or who is the department secretary. What they want is a system that works.

I’m asking the leaders of the APS to come back to me with a vision for how departments partner with each other and with the community to bring services together and make interactions easier.

And we’ve already taken steps to make the APS a model employer by giving employees the certainty of a one-off pay increase of 3%, so that they’re not worse off in their pay packets while more comprehensive EBAs are developed.

Our government’s reforms are about putting the people who use our services at the centre, rebuilding what’s been neglected, and investing in the APS’s most valuable resource — its people.

This is a once-in-a-generation chance to build a stronger APS. We won’t let it pass us by.

You can read more about APS Reform at www.apsreform.gov.au


APS primed to adapt for major policy and government service overhaul

Betsy and Charles Gallagher took their responsibility to rear their children as independent, educated and community minded citizens seriously. My brothers, sister and I were taught that we had to contribute to our community if we were to be full participants in it.

It's always interesting to see who a freshly-minted MP thanks in their maiden speech, and ACT Senator Katy Gallagher this week made sure she acknowledged two women who had helped her at her lowest point.

Australian Taxation Office first assistant commissioner Jacqui Curtis, who heads up the agency’s people division, asked for Lloyd’s view on how the insular workplace culture of the public service could be changed, adding that during enterprise bargaining, “it’s almost insulting to [public servants] if you start to compare them to other agencies in the APS or the private sector more generally”.