PM to remind staff they are ‘servants’

SCOTT Morrison will deliver a warning to the nation's 240,000 public servants today that they must be enablers not obstacles for the elected Government's agenda.

Drawing a line in the sand with the bureaucracy, the Prime Minister's speech in Canberra will ramp up the pressure on the public service, saying they need to "evolve" to better deliver and implement policy.

Mr Morrison will tell the Institute of Public Administration that public servants need a "laser-like focus" on serving "quiet Australians" rather than a "myriad of vested and organised interests".

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will tell the Institute of Public Administration that public servants need a “laser-like focus” on serving “quiet Australians”. Picture: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will tell the Institute of Public Administration that public servants need a “laser-like focus” on serving “quiet Australians”. Picture: AAP Image/Kelly Barnes

 

The speech comes just weeks before the government is expected to receive a major review of the public service undertaken by former Telstra CEO David Thodey.

Mr Morrison has used the first few months since the election to set his expectations for the bureaucracy but his speech will also put his ministers on notice, challenging them to ensure they don't become "captive of their department".

"(Ministers) must be clear in what they are asking of the public service," he will say.

"They must not allow a policy leadership vacuum to be created, expecting the public service to fill it and do their job.

"One of the worst criticisms politicians can make of each other is that a minister is captive of their department".

He will say that only those who "have put their name on a ballot" can truly understand the significance of accountability to the public.

"I know (public servants) might feel that sometimes you are absolutely right in what you are suggesting, but I can tell you when it is you that is facing the public and must look your constituent in the eye, it gives you a unique perspective," he will say.

Setting six "guideposts" for the future, Mr Morrison will urge public servants to deliver a "step-change" on service delivery so that is seamless and efficient.

Another "guidepost" calls for the public service to recruit more "smart people" from outside the bureaucracy and for public servants to get experience in non-government roles.

The speech is also expected to expand on the "respect and expect" vision that he has only previously referenced.

"Respect the experience, professionalism and capability that the public service brings to the table, both in terms of policy advice and implementation and then, having set the policy direction, expect them to get on and deliver it," he will say.



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