Former Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson has been named chair of the Australian National University’s Sir Roland Wilson Foundation.
He replaces former Treasury secretary Dr Ken Henry, who has served as chair since 2013 and initiated the foundation’s scholarship program for public servants.
In a statement released by the ANU on Tuesday, Parkinson said he looked forward to working with the foundation, the ANU, the Australian Public Service and Charles Darwin University to “empower Australia’s public servants and support their vital work to improve our nation”.
“The foundation’s scholarships give public servants the freedom and time to deep dive into these ‘wicked problems’ — while also being supported by some of the world’s best researchers,” he said.
Parkinson said Australia was in need of public policy that has been informed by the latest research and ideas “now more than ever”.
“It may not always grab headlines, but public policy shapes the quality of our lives every single day. If we get it right, public policy has the potential to benefit the lives of all Australians. If we get it wrong, the costs are huge and long lasting,” he said.
“We also need to make sure our public servants are equipped with the latest knowledge to tackle some of the most complex challenges our nation currently faces — whether that be international security, inequality, pandemics, climate change, reconciliation or racism.”
Henry, who will continue to work with the ANU through its Below Zero Initiative, said he was pleased Parkinson would be his replacement.
“In Martin, Australia has an individual committed to serving the nation and its betterment,” he said.
“Today, the highest-quality public service craft and capability is essential. Martin is a true master of the craft.”
During his career in the APS, Parkinson held the roles of Treasury secretary, inaugural secretary of the Department of Climate Change, and PM&C secretary. More recently, he was appointed chancellor of Macquarie University.