Remembering who you report to

Pathways to good policy outcomes

Featured in

  • Published 20200203
  • ISBN: 9781925773804
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

EARLY IN MY career as a Queensland public servant, I attended a workshop with the renowned Professor Patrick Weller, where he interrogated me about to whom I was accountable as a public servant. I jumped right in, saying that I was accountable to my clients and responsible to the minister. Pat tore strips off me. I had it all wrong: under the Westminster system, I was only accountable to the minister, who was accountable for the portfolio performance to parliament and, ultimately – through our system of representative democracy – to the people.

It was 1990, and I was in my early thirties. I had shifted from being a young social-policy advocate working within and outside the public service with disadvantaged people and communities to being a deputy CEO heading up housing-service delivery in what had once been an old-style state housing authority. I saw my role as advocating and assisting the communities I served and acting as a conduit and adviser to the minister of the day.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Ken Smith

Ken Smith is Dean and CEO of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and was the Agent General for Queensland based in...

More from this edition

Expert judgment on markers

PoetrySending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves a powerful culture. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning...

Mistrusting the news

GR OnlineSome of what we call ‘fake news’ today is what we used to call propaganda. When the US-born Briton and fascist politician William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, broadcast radio programs during World War II designed to mislead and demoralise the Allied opponents of Nazi Germany, he would present a mix of fake and factual information.

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.