Terry Moran: how to reignite our belief in public service

There has been a loss of belief in the ideal of public service, Australia’s former top bureaucrat argues. We must learn from the legacy of people like Sir Edward Dunlop.

For me, Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop — amongst so many other achievements — embodies the ideal of public service.

I would argue that an aspect of the malaise that currently afflicts our nation reflects the willingness amongst some to relegate this ideal of public service to less prominence — despite community attitudes.

For example, we know from various surveys that citizens admire and trust, at very high levels and above all other groups, those at the front line who still live a life of public service — nurses, teachers, doctors, fire fighters, police and others like them. The problem in my view is that what you might call our broad senior leadership group in Australia is losing sight of something that citizens see quite clearly.

So the challenge for those who occupy — or seek to occupy — those senior positions is to explore how they might recapture the spirit of public service, its focus and its language in many of our institutions.

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