Departmental secretary

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This article is about the administration of Government in Australia. For other uses, see Secretary (disambiguation). For the equivalent role in the British government, see Permanent Secretary. For the equivalent role in the Canadian government, see Deputy minister (Canada).
Secretary
RichardsonHowardShergold.jpg
Peter Shergold (right) in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; with then Prime Minister John Howard at a 2005 meeting in the United States.
Occupation
Names Departmental secretary
Occupation type
Public servant
Activity sectors
Australian and State government
Description
Competencies Strategic advice; Public administration
Related jobs
Government minister; Director general; Chief Executive

In the administration of government in Australia, a departmental secretary, or more commonly a Secretary, is the most senior public servant of a Commonwealth or state government department, charged with leading the department on a day-to-day basis.

Role[edit]

A departmental secretary is the non-political non-elected public servant heads (and "responsible officers") of government departments, who generally hold their position for a number of years.[1] A departmental secretary works closely with the elected government minister that oversees the Commonwealth department or state government department in order to bring about policy and program initiatives that the government of day was elected to achieve. A departmental secretary works with other departments and agencies to ensure the delivery of services and programs within the nominated area of responsibility.

The secretary is also known as the chief executive of the department; the position is similar to director general in other states and other jurisdictions or chief executive officer (CEO) in a private company.

In the Australian government, Secretaries are the responsible officers for departments, meaning that they are answerable to the Australian Parliament for ensuring that the department performs the functions assigned to it and spends money appropriately, as granted by the Parliament. Secretaries are frequently called for questioning by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, the House of Representatives committees and the Senate committees.

Appointment and termination[edit]

The Public Service Act, 1999 (Cth) requires the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to provide a report to the Prime Minister of the day[2] about the suitability of potential candidates as departmental secretary. The report is prepared in conjunction with the Public Service Commissioner. Appointments and terminations as departmental secretary are made by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister; under Sections 58 and 59 respectively of the Act.[3][4]

Since the removal of tenure under Prime Minister Paul Keating, departmental secretaries are generally aware that while dismissals are not common, following a change of government, failure to re-appoint a secretary is certainly a frequent occurrence.[5] In the first Rudd government, secretaries were appointed for a five-year term;[1] prior to this a term of three years was common.[6] In 1999, the Howard government sought to remove Paul Barratt AO as Secretary of the Department of Defence after Barratt fell out of favour with his Minister.[7] Despite being offered a diplomatic post, Barratt refused to vacate the role and commenced legal action,[8] claiming unfair dismissal and that the government had failed to follow due process.[9] Barratt had a temporary stay,[10] but was dismissed within 14 days,[11] and subsequently lost, on appeal in the Federal Court.[12]

The most senior Commonwealth public servant is the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, currently Dr Ian Watt AO.

In Victoria[edit]

In the Government of the state of Victoria, the most senior government departmental secretary is the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, currently Andrew Tongue.

Current Australian government departmental secretaries[edit]

There are currently 22[citation needed] individuals in Australian government departments with the grade of Secretary, though not all use these titles.

Department Jobholder Title Effective date
of appointment
Ref(s)
Australian government departments
Prime Minister and Cabinet Dr Ian Watt AO Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 5 September 2011 (2011-09-05) [13]
Ms Rebecca Cross Associate Secretary (Domestic Policy)
Dr Margot McCarthy Associate Secretary (National Security Adviser) 3 February 2012 [14]
Agriculture Dr Paul Grimes Secretary of the Department of Agriculture 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [15][16]
Attorney-General's Roger Wilkins AO Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department 1 September 2008 (2008-09-01) [17][18]
Communications Drew Clarke PSM Secretary of the Department of Communications 11 March 2013 (2013-03-11) [2]
Defence Dennis Richardson AO Secretary of the Department of Defence 18 October 2012 (2012-10-18) [19]
Education Lisa Paul AO PSM Secretary of the Department of Education 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [16]
Tony Cook Associate Secretary (Early Childhood, Schools and Youth) [20]
Robert Griew Associate Secretary (Higher Education, Research and International) [20]
Employment Renée Leon Secretary of the Department of Employment 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [16][21]
Environment Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM Secretary of the Department of the Environment 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [16]
Finance David Tune PSM Secretary of the Department of Finance 13 August 2009 [1]
Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Varghese AO Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 3 December 2012 (2012-12-03) [19]
Health Professor Jane Halton PSM Secretary of the Department of Health 18 January 2002 (2002-01-18) [6]
Professor Chris Baggoley AO Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government 30 August 2011 (2011-08-30) [22]
Human Services Kathryn Campbell Secretary of the Department of Human Services 7 March 2011 (2011-03-07) [23]
Immigration and Border Protection Martin Bowles PSM Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection 29 January 2013 (2013-01-29) [24]
Infrastructure and Regional Development Mike Mrdak Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 29 June 2009 (2009-06-29) [25]
Industry Glenys Beauchamp Secretary of the Department of Industry 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [16]
Social Services Finn Pratt PSM Secretary of the Department of Social Services 18 September 2013 (2013-09-18) [26]
The Treasury Dr Martin Parkinson PSM Secretary to the Department of the Treasury 7 March 2011 (2011-03-07) [27]
Veterans' Affairs Simon Lewis PSM Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs 11 July 2013 (2013-07-11) [28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Rudd, Kevin (13 August 2009). "Departmental secretaries and statutory office-holders, Canberra". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Gillard, Julia (8 February 2013). "Appointment of Departmental Secretary". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Public Service Act, 1999 (Cth) s 58
  4. ^ Public Service Act, 1999 (Cth) s 59
  5. ^ Podger, Andrew (20 September 2013). "Abbott and the public service: where now on department heads?". The Conversation (The Conversation Media Group). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Howard, John (18 January 2002). "Senior appointments: Departmental secretaries". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Waterford, Jack (September 1999). "Defence losing its moorings" (PDF). Eureka Street 9 (7): 7. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Colvin, Mark; Epstein, Rafael (6 August 1999). "Defence dismissal goes to court" (transcript). PM (ABC Radio) (Australia). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Barratt, Paul (19 August 1999). Paul Barratt returns to work (transcript). Interview with Kerry O'Brien. 730. ABC TV. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Reynolds, Fiona (28 July 1999). "Defence head gains injunction" (transcript). AM (ABC Radio) (Australia). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  11. ^ Colvin, Mark; Reynolds, Fiona (31 August 1999). "Barratt sacked" (transcript). PM (ABC Radio) (Australia). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Colvin, Mark; Reynolds, Fiona (10 March 2000). "Barrett loses appeal against dismissal" (transcript). PM (ABC Radio) (Australia). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  13. ^ Gillard, Julia (4 August 2011). "Departmental Secretaries". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "The National Security and International Policy Group Executive". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Bettles, Colin (18 September 2013). "Metcalfe sacked from DAFF". Farm Weekly (Western Australia: Fairfax Agricultural Media). Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Packham, Ben (18 September 2013). "Tony Abbott puts broom through bureaucracy". The Australian. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Secretary – Attorney-General's Department". Attorney-General's Department. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Rudd, Kevin (31 July 2008). "Appointment of Departmental Secretary". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Gillard, Julia (17 September 2012). "Diplomatic Appointment and Appointment of Secretaries of the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Associate Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries". Department of Education. Commonwealth of Australia. October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "Secretary". Department of Employment. Commonwealth of Australia. October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Australia's New Chief Medical Officer Announced". Department of Health and Ageing (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  23. ^ "Secretary of the Department of Human Services". Department of Human Services. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Martin Bowles PSM, Secretary" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Commonwealth of Australia. 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  25. ^ Rudd, Kevin (15 May 2009). "Appointment of Departmental Secretary". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Organisation Charts". Department of Social Services. Commonwealth of Australia. October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  27. ^ Balogh, Stefanie; Kelly, Joe (21 December 2010). "Ken Henry's Treasury replacement to be climate department head Martin Parkinson". The Australian. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  28. ^ "Our structure". Department of Veterans' Affairs. Commonwealth of Australia. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.