Is it a good time to be a public servant? Young professionals debate

The dark humour and veiled optimism of the public sector was on display in a no-names-mentioned debate in Canberra last night. It is not, apparently, a good time to be in Canberra.

Is it a good time to be a public servant? Not according to the outcome of a humourous debate held last night in Canberra by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (ACT division) Young Professionals Network.

The Mandarin followed the IPAA bright young things into The Bunker Theatre — so called due to its location in a former secret communications bunker beneath the heritage-listed John Gorton Building, home to the finance and environment departments — and can confirm that a good time was had by all.

Using the time-honoured “loudest applause” method, the audience of more than 100 (mostly) young public servants preferred the negative team, captained by ACIL Allen executive director Stephen Bartos, the only debater not currently employed in the federal bureaucracy.

But there was stiff competition from the affirmative team, led by deputy APS commissioner Stephanie Foster, who made a courageous stand for optimism in the face of fiscal austerity and painted public servants as unsung superheroes.

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