Protecting craft of public servant is crucial

Professor Gary Sturgess AM
Professor Gary Sturgess AM

New Professor of Public Service Innovation at Griffith University’s School of Government and International Relations, Gary Sturgess AM, has voiced his concerns for the craft of public service.

In his first presentation to students in Griffith’s flagship Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis (GCPA) program at the South Bank campus, Professor Sturgess stressed the importance of the public servant in modern-day Australia.

“The craft of the public servant is enormously important and requires application,” he said. “It requires study; it requires you to read extensively; it requires you to talk to your colleagues. I think I see less of that today.”

Professor Sturgess joins the School of Government and International Relations, following a previous appointment as an Adjunct Professor at Griffith’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy in 2011. A Queenslander from Dalby, his association with politics and public policy at Griffith dates back to the 1980s.

He is a member of the Public Sector Renewal Board in Queensland. He also holds the position of NSW Premier’s ANZSOG Chair of Public Service Delivery, based at the University of New South Wales…., during this time.

  • VIDEO: Professor Gary Sturgess on what motivates the 21st century public servant

Professor Sturgess urged current and future public servants to take a measured approach to the demands of social media, and to strive to retain the public interest as the public service bedrock.

“The best public servants are people who make great personal sacrifices in order to serve the public good. They are responsible for delivering policies that work, it is their duty to explain to ministers the consequences of their policies and offer a range of options for delivery.

“I think there is perhaps less concern now about the craft of public service. That craft is about caring and ensuring you are across the range of disciplines, skills and techniques that are required. Studying what has been happening in other jurisdictions and learning lessons from the past are all part of what I would call the craft. The capacity to innovate in policy and in delivery lies at the heart of the craft.

“Those who excel are partly motivated by the thrill of solving complex problems and a need to make a difference in the world. “

Professor Sturgess’s concerns about the craft of public administration are echoed by senior public service leaders and members of the business community, notably Jennifer Westacott Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Australia.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he served as Director-General of the NSW Cabinet Office under Premier Nick Greiner, and is credited with creating the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

He played a leading role, behind the scenes, that led to the establishment of the Council of Australian Governments. He has also held the position of Executive Director at the Serco Institute, and in 2005 he was appointed as Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his outstanding services to public administration.

Pro Vice Chancellor (Business), Professor Michael Powell, said he was delighted to have a leading thinker of Gary Sturgess’s stature formally joining Griffith Business School.

“He has worked at the forefront of public sector reform for the past three decades. Students of public service and public management will both be informed and inspired by the depth and understanding of his firsthand knowledge and insights.”