Non-Departmental Public Bodies Under the Howard Governments

Roger Wettenhall

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5 Citations (Scopus)


There has been both continuity and change in the use of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) during the Howard years. In terms of continuity, the statutory authority and its incorporated version, the statutory corporation (in whose development late 19th and early 20th century Australian governments played such an important part), have remained in wide use. In terms of change, however, two other NDPB forms offered some challenge to its popularity. The government-owned company came to be a preferred form for government business enterprises (GBEs) and, more recently, for many other non-commercial public activities as well. And the executive agency, first making its Australian appearance in 1999, seemed initially to be another significant challenger, but its numbers, never great, were soon cut back. The article examines these trends, relating them to several relevant systemic inquiries and policy changes, notably the Humphry review of the governance of GBEs, the final settlement (in 1997) of the package of financial management acts, the Uhrig inquiry of 2003 and the system-challenging pressures that have followed it. Commonwealth participation in joint (Commonwealth/subnational and Commonwealth/private) activities is also noted, as is the lack of ‘fit’ of the Australian experience with international theorising about ‘agencification’. Finally, the article seeks to identify the leading figures within the Howard governments who have been directing both the changes and the continuities involved in these developments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-82
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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