Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management

Release Date: 
13 November 2019
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Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management

Thank you everyone. It’s an honour to be here representing the Prime Minister and to present the Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management.

This evening is all about excellence.

The pursuit of excellence, represented tonight by our fantastic teams of nominees.

And the recognition of excellence, represented in the work of IPAA.

In this room we have some inspirational examples of the very best of the public service. And we’ll hear more from them soon when we announce the awards.

But before we get to that, I’d like to acknowledge the important work IPAA does in striving to improve public administration in Australia at all levels.

One way it does this is by shining a light on our high achievers.

When we celebrate achievement and excellence, the ripple effects are powerful. We send a strong signal about what’s possible when we collaborate, when we innovate, and when we keep a laser-like focus on the public we serve.

IPAA has a long and proud tradition of setting that high bar of attainment, so that the public service can continue to hone, refine and improve the skillset of its impressive and dynamic workforce.

You can count on this Government to back you to do that.

We’re always prepared to support those who, like IPAA, strive for excellence in serving Australians.

So I thank ACT President Dr Kennedy, as well as all IPAA Board Members, and Councillors, past and present, for your leadership, your energy and your determination to see the public service thrive.

You only need to look at tonight’s nominees, and nominees and winners from previous years, to see those high standards exemplified.

Last year we saw the Gold and Collaboration award presented to the Queensland Police Service for their great work with the Commonwealth Games.

To me, what stands out in the list of awards from recent years is those awards presented for innovation in the way services are delivered, which is fantastic because that’s a key priority for our Government.

At the IPAA event in August, the Prime Minister outlined ‘six guideposts’ to pave the way forward for the future of the Government and the public service -respect and expect, implementation, being outcomes focussed, looking outside the bubble, adapting to change and doing this with the highest standards of integrity.

We want to see services delivered seamlessly and efficiently when and where they are needed.

And that means we need everyone in the public service to have a clear line of sight between what you are doing everyday, every decision you’re making every day, every contribution you’re making every day, straight through to the Australian public.

That’s true for all public servants, whether you work in a face-to-face role in the Centrelink Office in Victoria Park close to my electorate in Perth, or in a policy role here in Canberra.

And it’s true whether you’ve just started in the graduate program, or you’re the Department Secretary.

The mission is the same – keep a clear line of sight between the work you do and the people you serve.

I understand, and the PM understands, that getting service delivery right is hard. The public, rightly, has high expectations.

Nights like this, rewarding excellence in public sector management, serve to inspire all public servants to extend themselves, to think of new ways of doing things and to serve the Australian public the best way we can.

Australia’s public service organisations need to be world-class on all of the challenges we face as a country – everything from grasping the productivity opportunity of the digital economy to using big data and analytics.

Modern government is hard. Change is ever-present and public expectations have never been greater. The public service needs to evolve and adapt in response – more than ever we need a professional, connected, tech-enabled and citizen-focussed public service to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

The Commonwealth Government has received the Thodey review of the Australian Public Service and the Prime Minister has asked Secretaries to evaluate its recommendations and report to Cabinet. The Government has high expectations for the APS, and our response to the Thodey review will be guided by these.

Public services across the Australia – in the Commonwealth and the states and territories – are the engine room for governments to get things done, making Australia a better place for all of us.

So let me conclude by paying tribute to your craft, and reaffirming the Government’s commitment to a public service that is apolitical, merit-based and committed to the highest standards of integrity. 

This is how it has been in the past, and how I’m sure it will continue.

Congratulations to everyone on being nominated for tonight’s awards and best of luck for the announcements of the winners.