Terry Moran: flying with the cranes at The Mandarin

One of our leading cranes, former Prime Minister and Cabinet head Terry Moran, mused on what’s ahead for the public sector at the launch of The Mandarin in Canberra.

If you look at the website that we’re launching tonight, there’s a page on it called The Crane. It’s a reference to Chinese imperial bureaucracy — where your public service rank was shown by a large material badge with a bird on it.

Your bird changed depending on your rank. You started off as a quail and if you rose through the ranks then maybe you made it to pheasant-hood — or maybe you even became first assistant deputy peacock!

And at the top of the bird pyramid were the cranes — which were worn by the top mandarins. So in the middle of this very forward-looking digital media portal is this very erudite reference to the past.

That combination of looking forwards and backwards is not a bad metaphor for the public sector itself.

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