Watt walks: Prime Minister’s top public servant resigns

Without warning, the highest ranking Commonwealth public servant has stepped down, and a replacement has been brought back into the fold from the private sector.

The highest ranking member of the Australian Public Service, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Dr Ian Watt, has resigned.

The governor-general has appointed Australia’s former ambassador to the United States, Michael Thawley, to take over the role from December 1.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott issued a brief statement today, which paid tribute to Watt but did not offer any explanation of his abrupt departure:

“Dr Watt has had a long and distinguished career at the highest levels of the Australian Public Service including appointments as the Secretary of the Departments of Communications, Finance, Defence and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He has served successive governments with distinction and his contribution to public administration in Australia has been wide ranging. On behalf of the Government, I thank him for his years of dedication to the Australian Public Service and I look forward to his future contributions to our community.”

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