Andrew Tongue: if I knew then what I know now …


Featured Video Play Icon

When the pressure is on to drive tough reform and it looks like the wheels are about to fall off, hold your nerve and “beware the vividness of the transient moment”, advises Victoria’s top public servant.

When Victoria’s top public servant, Andrew Tongue, was asked what he would tell his younger self entering the public service in the early 1980s, the advice of 19th Century Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz came to mind.

“Beware the vividness of the transient moment,” is a piece of wisdom the secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet suggested public servants remember whenever they are involved with reform, speaking at the recent Australia New Zealand School of Governance conference:

“One of my reflections on all the reform that I’ve [been involved with]: there are those moments when it is all, in glorious technicolour, about to go horribly, horribly wrong, and if you hold your nerve, you pull through and you drive reform …

“Any reform worth doing requires staying the course.”

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

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.