Leadership and Public Sector Reform in Australia

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Australia is one of the Anglophone countries that readily adapted to a public management approach. Reforms since the 1980s have shown remarkable breadth, longevity and significance. The reforms acknowledge failure of existing approaches and the need to address management deficiencies, fiscal stress and increased complexity. This chapter discusses four cases, reflecting leadership from core agencies as well as executives. Financial management reform was initially led by Finance, and then a broader agenda was pursued through a senior management committee under the Department of the Prime. However, devolution of responsibilities from central agencies did not appear to make managers more accountable. Finance was weakened by devolution and unable to exercise appropriate leadership, and agencies did not integrate performance management reform with internal planning processes. By contrast, a one-stop shopping service for welfare was successful, although later folded in the Department of Human Services. DPMC also launched reform process in the 2010s, although not a priority of the prime minister, some recommendations, such as leadership development and talent management, were implemented that increased public service capacity. The case of Australia shows that in spite of variable political support and leadership by central agencies, a relatively stable environment (governments serving multiple terms) allowed implementation to proceed in the mid-term, including incentives to ensure responsiveness at department levels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeadership and Public Sector Reform in Asia
EditorsEvan Berman, Eko Prasojo
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781787433090
ISBN (Print)9781787433106
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2018

Publication series

NamePublic Policy and Governance
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited


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