The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPM&C) has published a message to the nation’s public servants following Tuesday’s budget, with a reminder to them to familiarise themselves with Caretaker conventions ahead of the federal election.
The mission statement was summarised in an open letter to the Australian Public Service (APS) co-signed by DPM&C secretary Phil Gaetjens and Commissioner Peter Woolcott.
“The [budget] focus for the APS was clear: We must support the government to build on Australia’s economic and social recovery, and support Australians by providing high-quality services where and when people need them,” the APS leaders said.
“Funding from the budget supports the work you do. The advice you provide and the services you deliver are an important contribution to Australia’s economic recovery.”
Public servants were also encouraged to reflect on their role in the community and the progress the APS was making for Australia.
“Consistent with the conventions, you should continue to serve the government with the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and dedication,” the letter added, referring to the upcoming Caretaker period once a federal election is called and the House of Representatives is dissolved.
“We recognise the level of professionalism and dedication you continue to show in the face of current and emerging challenges, and the need for us to continue to work together as one APS.”
Gaetjens and Woolcott acknowledged that public servants have been busy working to deliver ahead of the 2022-23 budget. This was being done, they said, against the backdrop of APS business-as-usual work and responses to COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the major flooding events affecting east coast communities.
“The last few months have been extraordinarily busy for all of us. Many of you have been involved in international efforts to counteract Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal war against Ukraine.
“Australia is doing everything it can to ensure Russia and others know that its actions will have severe political, economic and reputational consequences,” the letter said.
An APS Surge Reserve had been deployed to deal with the huge amount of work Services Australia had been called on to deliver with flood-response efforts, Gaetjens and Woolcott said, mostly to ensure government payments were being distributed to eligible citizens.
“We want to acknowledge and thank all of you for your continuing efforts,” they said.