Restoring the power of the Australian public service was a huge task for Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis, chosen by Anthony Albanese to head the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, represents the first step in reversing the profound damage of the Morrison years.

Glyn Davis (image: AAP / Alan Porritt)

Glyn Davis has a huge task ahead of her as head of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and leader of the Australian public service (APS). Not only are there a myriad of political challenges nationally and internationally, but he inherits a public service in the worst state of neglect in its history.

The Abbott and Morrison governments were disasters for ODA, punctuated only by Malcolm Turnbull, who was genuinely interested in public sector reform and established the global review, chaired by David Thodey, in early 2018, in which he lent Davis service. But when Thodey and colleagues reported, a right-wing coup had replaced Turnbull with Morrison, and the latter trashed the review, telling APS that he would simply do what he told him.

Meanwhile, the politicization of public service, the relentless expansion of APS consultancy firms, and the stripping of corporate experience, talent and memory continued at a rapid pace. The appointment of Liberal Party staff member Phil Gaetjens as head of PM&C was the final straw: the Australian public sector leadership position, once in August, reduced to a Mister Fixit due to Morrison’s myriad of political problems.

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