‘Take a holiday’: when leaders crumble, keep your head down

What should public servants do when leadership spills and political instability loom? Keep your head down, stay motivated — and maybe take that holiday you’ve been planning.

Queensland doesn’t have a government days after an election. The Northern Territory administration is in turmoil after a failed coup. And Canberra is consumed over who should be the prime minister.

When leaders fall and governments crumble, throwing policymaking into chaos, what’s a hard-working public servant to do? “Take a holiday!” said David Charles, half-jokingly.

The former secretary of the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce — now director at consulting firm Insight Economics — told The Mandarin: “That’s a very hard question. Where the government is in disarray, I guess that raises difficult questions.

“The government is the government until it’s no longer the government. Public servants will know what’s going on, but on the other hand they’re there to serve the government of the day.

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  • disqus_CVNqy9HvXa

    I completely dispute that public servants give themselves time off during caretaker period. Even in policy in my experience there’s plenty to do – it’s just slightly different from the rest of the electoral cycle.

  • CM58

    Ah, caretaker period – once gave a public presentation and was told not to mention future policy implications. That went down really well with the private sector in attendance. But agree with below, there is a lot of prep for post election and program delivery continues on.