Bernard Keane has given a warmish plug to former Health Department Secretary and Public Service Commissioner Andrew Podger’s new book, The Role of Departmental Secretaries: Personal reflections on the breadth of responsibilities today, describing it as an “important(ish)” book.
Happily, it also sounds like Podger has spilt a few beans, as well as taking a serious look at the changing nature of the Australian Public Service. A few of the spilt beans identified by Keane are:
- Michael Wooldridge — who evidently impressed Podger as a committed and intelligent minister — lobbied his Cabinet colleagues hard for a significant and ongoing boost in funding for indigenous health, but got no support.
- Relations between Wooldridge and Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop broke down sufficiently badly that Podger’s department had to act as a relay between them during the critical budget process in 1999.
- Bishop tried to block the Department of Health annual report for 2000-01 on the basis that it was “her report” and contained data she did not wish published. Podger had to remind her it was a statutorily-required report from him to Parliament.
- Podger had to resist efforts from Howard’s office and PM&C to interfere with his review of health services delivery in 2005, including directions not to speak to certain experts considered hostile to the Government.
Anyway, you can dig further for yourself. ANU E Press has kindly made the whole thing freely available here.