Spike in SES appointments around previous two elections

By Anna Macdonald

June 7, 2022

An increase in public servant appointment announcements around election day. (The Mandarin)

There has been an increase in public servant appointment announcements around election day for the past two elections, with minimal appointments announced in the lead-ups.

From The Mandarin’s own Movers & Shakers, which tracks public service appointments including those at the Senior Executive Service (SES) Bands 1, 2, and 3 level, we saw a spike in appointments the week after the election on Saturday May 21.

The Movers & Shakers published on May 27, the one directly after the election, saw a total of 16 appointments at the SES level: one Band 2 and 15 Band 1s.

In contrast, during caretaker conventions the week previous, there were no appointments at the SES level, and the week before that Movers & Shakers was not published owing to a lack of appointments and promotions to be reported.

A typical Movers & Shakers article, usually published weekly, contains between three and six SES appointments.

During the previous election, in 2016, there was also an increase in SES appointments, with 12 in total (2 in Band 2, 10 in Band 1), although these were announced the day before the election on 18 May 2016 as opposed to the following week.

That election saw then-opposition leader Ben Shorten lose to prime minister Scott Morrison, which was not predicted by the polls. The two weeks bookending that Movers & Shakers did not have a Movers & Shakers story published. 

The Australian Public Service Commission does not monitor trends in this area.  

Public service employment shifts around the election are to be expected. Most notably, the recent appointment of Glyn Davis as the new secretary for the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, replacing Phil Gaetjens. 

More senior appointments are likely on the horizon. Newly elected prime minister Anthony Albanese has created new departments such as the Department of Climate Change, Energy and the Environment, and a changing of some departmental secretaries is anticipated


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