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Home News ‘Take a holiday’: when leaders crumble, keep your head down
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TAGS change of government, leadership spill
What should public servants do when leadership spills and political instability loom? Keep your head down, stay motivated — and maybe take that holiday you’ve been planning.
Queensland doesn’t have a government days after an election. The Northern Territory administration is in turmoil after a failed coup. And Canberra is consumed over who should be the prime minister.
When leaders fall and governments crumble, throwing policymaking into chaos, what’s a hard-working public servant to do? “Take a holiday!” said David Charles, half-jokingly.
The former secretary of the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce — now director at consulting firm Insight Economics — told The Mandarin: “That’s a very hard question. Where the government is in disarray, I guess that raises difficult questions.
“The government is the government until it’s no longer the government. Public servants will know what’s going on, but on the other hand they’re there to serve the government of the day.
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The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.
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I completely dispute that public servants give themselves time off during caretaker period. Even in policy in my experience there’s plenty to do – it’s just slightly different from the rest of the electoral cycle.
Ah, caretaker period – once gave a public presentation and was told not to mention future policy implications. That went down really well with the private sector in attendance. But agree with below, there is a lot of prep for post election and program delivery continues on.