IPAA baton passes to Gordon de Brouwer

INTERVIEW: Environment secretary Gordon de Brouwer takes over as president of IPAA ACT this week. He tells The Mandarin that contested debate — in public, not in code — is how public administration will improve.

A forum where the unique aspects of public sector work can be explored, debated and celebrated is a valuable thing to have, says Department of the Environment secretary Gordon de Brouwer (pictured, left).

He is referring, of course, to the Institute of Public Administration Australia. On Thursday, de Brouwer will take over as president of its ACT Division from Department of Innovation, Industry and Science head Glenys Beauchamp.

He tells The Mandarin that through its events, the institute is a source of inspiration and professional pride for the people who contribute to “making sure the social choices made by governments are implemented well” and all the official advice that goes with it. Through their membership of the IPAA, “they see that there’s value in what they do, there’s purpose in the work that they do, and that it’s recognised,” de Brouwer said. “If someone misrepresents you, or takes a perspective on what you say that you don’t like, that doesn’t mean you close up shop and never have a public debate again.”

It’s a professional calling that’s often thankless, frequently misunderstood, and regularly maligned based on inaccurate yet enduring stereotypes. These tropes help support the popular economic ideology that sees government as inherently inefficient and wasteful, commonly espoused in Australia by a certain think tank with, coincidentally, very similar initials. But the new IPAA ACT president thinks most of the public sector’s quiet achievers don’t let this negativity get to them.

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