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A thank you from The Mandarin publisher

This week ‘Team Mandy’ toasted farewell to our fearless leader, Tom Burton, who departs for a sabbatical. We also welcomed several new people to this very modern media endeavour. In lieu of  ‘Movers & shakers: reshuffle at The Mandarin’, here is Tom’s farewell note.


We are pleased with the role The Mandarin has played contributing to intelligent coverage of the public sector and its importance to the nation and the region.

In our fifth year, we have seen our readership surge to over 100,000 regular readers a month, mostly drawn from the management and executive groups of the public service, including New Zealand.

We started The Mandarin at perhaps the toughest time in modern media, and are proud of the loyalty our readers and commercial partners have shown us.

We thank you all for your support, including the many writers who have contributed their knowledge and thinking. They have helped make The Mandarin a broad church across the huge diversity that is represented in the public sector.

The Mandarin was started after observing how poor the understanding was of the critical role public servants play in our society.

We are delighted with the role we have played, contributing to a far more sophisticated appreciation of the complexity of policy, regulatory and service delivery.

We have exciting plans to further grow The Mandarin, looking to strengthen our daily coverage in vital areas such as service delivery and growing our editorial, commercial and development teams and resourcing.

At a time when the media is being heavily disrupted, it is vital we confidently strike out our future and we will be looking to diversify our business model. This will include broadening our revenue sources from new premium subscription services and supporting the sector’s huge need to build and recruit for new capabilities and skills.

This represents an important watershed for The Mandarin, as we pivot from a startup, to growing our platform, using the broader resources of our parent company, Private Media, chaired by Eric Beecher.

After nearly five years of long hours, sweat and occasional tears, I am taking a self-imposed sabbatical — to read some trashy novels, and hopefully do a little deep-dive study.

Zoe Dattner, the experienced publisher of the successful SmartCompany website, is stepping into the role of publisher.

Zoe will work with our editor Harley Dennett and our commercial director Richard Austin, both of whom have been instrumental in The Mandarin’s accomplishment.

Peter Debus, also joins us from ANZSOG, as our public sector director. Peter has a strong background in regulatory policy and brings a lot of cross-sector experience and relationships to the publication.

There is one more exciting new addition to our team that we’re very close to officially announcing. Watch out in the new year if you love research.

I want to publicly thank our staff for their huge efforts. It has been delightful to see and be part of their personal and professional growth, and the central role they have played in building our brand of sophisticated and intelligent coverage.

I also want to personally acknowledge the many senior, and not-so-senior, public servants who have helped me better understand their challenges and opportunities. Their honesty and desire to do better has helped frame much of our coverage.

Australia and New Zealand are blessed with world-leading public sectors. The prosperity and opportunities that are manifest in our countries did not happen by accident and the public service has played an undeniable critical role in the success of both societies.

There remain huge challenges — there is seemingly entrenched disadvantage, we must find answers to the threats that are ever present, including the tragic violence that permeates our own families, and as a country we have yet to find our competitive sweet-spot, as we accelerate into an all-digital world.

Digitisation and globalisation uniquely challenge the very way we do government and we will all be judged by later generations by how confidently we led and adapted our communities through this era.

Best to all for the summer break.

Tom Burton

Publisher, The Mandarin

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.