Events in February: UK cabinet lessons, WA policy talk, women and leadership


There’s never much on in January but February offers a range of interesting events for people with an interest in the public sector.

Lesson from UK government comms reform

First off, the former deputy director of UK Government Communications, Sean Larkins, is on a speaking tour, stopping in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Larkins is now director of consulting and capability for the government and public sector arm of public relations giant WPP, which is running the series of events. He will share lessons from strategic communications reforms run by the UK Cabinet Office and Prime Minister’s Office.

WPP says he was “ultimately responsible for the professional development for nearly 4,000 government communicators, as well as providing improved outcomes such as a 17% increase in communications effectiveness”.

After a visit to the seat of New Zealand government in Wellington, Larkins will start his run of Australian appearances at Old Parliament House on the morning of February 17. The following day he’ll be in Sydney, also for breakfast, and will pop up in Brisbane later that day, before another breakfast event in Melbourne on the 19th.

Larkins said in a statement:

“I’ve got my work cut out for me when presenting to my professional peers in Canberra, the heart of Australian Government policy and best practice.

“While the communications environment in Australia is uniquely complex, I’m interested in drawing some fundamental parallels with the experience we’ve had in the UK.  Whilst policy is certainly the foundation of government, its success lies squarely with how effective the communications delivery is.”

Tickets to his presentations may be booked through the WPP public sector practice website.

WA Deputy Premier takes the podium

Western Australian public servants might not want to make the trip all the way to the east coast to hear about improving how government agencies communicate, but they can go to hear their deputy premier Kim Hames “provide firsthand knowledge of the policy environment for the year ahead” to a public sector audience.

Hames, who is also Minister for Tourism and Minister for Health, will deliver the Institute for Public Administration Australia (WA Branch) president’s address at 7.15am on February 16 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

According to IPAA WA:

“This event also provides guidance to the public sector with the Minister’s perspective on the key emerging social issues of the time.”

Tickets can be booked through the IPAA WA website.

Sundowners with Blair Comley, women in leadership, and more from CEDA

As always, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has a fine line-up of upcoming events, many of which are relevant to denizens of the public sector.

The head of the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet, Blair Comley, is speaking at a cocktail event to kick off 2016 and “discuss the government’s agenda for change in NSW”. This one is only for CEDA trustees and their invited guests, and starts at 4.30pm on February 10 at the Shangri-La Hotel.

A similar event in Canberra will be held over lunch on the 11th, featuring Warwick McKibbin, the Chair in Public Policy and director of the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

The launch of CEDA’s Women in Leadership series is open to the public, and will be held in Adelaide Convention Centre on February 23, from 11.45am-2pm. No doubt eyebrows will be raised at the fact that the speakers are all men: University of South Australia vice-chancellor David Lloyd, SA Power Networks CEO Robert Stobbe, and Con Tragakis, the chairman of partners at KPMG. At least the chair of the discussion, Uni SA business professor Marie Wilson, is a woman.

CEDA is also hosting a series of events in February around its annual Economic and Political Overview project, all of which are open to the public.

The first is in Brisbane at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on the 18th, from 10am to 2pm, and features a range of speakers including Warren Tease, federal Treasury’s principal adviser on macroeconomic conditions, Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe, Crosby Textor managing director Mark Textor, and John O’Sullivan, chairman of Australian investment banking with Credit Suisse.

Next is Canberra on February 19 at the National Press Club, also from 10am-2pm, featuring ACT chief minister Andrew Barr, Capital Metro Agency director-general Emma Thomas, National Capital Authority CEO Malcolm Snow, ABC chief political journalist Sabra Lane and Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.

South Australia’s turn is also on February 19, and includes speeches from premier Jay Weatherill and federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne, at the Intercontinental hotel, 10am-2pm.

The EPO for Hobart is on February 22 at Wrest Point, featuring Tasmanian treasurer Peter Gutwein, while his Victorian counterpart Tim Pallas will address the Melbourne iteration on February 26 at the Grand Hyatt, alongside federal Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business Kelly Dwyer.

There’s also an EPO event in Perth with Western Australian treasurer Mike Nahan speaking on February 26 at the Hyatt Regency and on the other side of the country, Queensland Under Treasurer Jim Murphy and Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman will discuss the same issues at Jupiters Townsville on the same day.

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