Tasmania's top public servant Greg Johannes calls it quits

By Stephen Easton

November 24, 2017

The head of Tasmania’s public service, Greg Johannes, has suddenly resigned. Monday will be his last day.

“I think it’s time to give someone else the opportunity to lead in a challenging environment, and to take the department into the intense program of work associated with the lead up to the election, caretaker period, and support for an incoming government,” he told staff by email.

“You can be confident that I am going at a time of my own choosing, because I feel the time is right.”

According to the ABC, “multiple senior public servants … expressed disbelief” when they heard Johannes (pictured) was stepping down almost immediately.

Jenny Gale, the Department of Education secretary, will take over as acting secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“I feel extraordinarily privileged to have had the opportunity to work in this Department for the last ten years, and to work with others to lead it over the last three and a half,” Johannes told staff.

“And I am enormously proud of what all of us have achieved for Tasmanians. …

“I love the public service and I’ve loved being in the State Service. And I want to thank all of you for the dedication, professionalism, care and support you have shown me in this job and over many years. All of this Department’s achievements are your achievements.

“State Servants are the people, day in and day out, who apply their energy and enthusiasm to deal with society’s greatest challenges. State Servants are the people who support Tasmanians when they are at their most vulnerable, with kindness and compassion. State Servants are the people who educate the next generation, protect the environment, build our infrastructure and keep our community safe. You should be enormously proud of what you do. I am.”


Premier Will Hodgman thanked Johannes for his hard work and dedication and noted it would be the first time a woman had led the state service in well over a decade.

The premier issued a statement on Friday afternoon saying he was offered and had accepted Johannes’ resignation, then re-issued it shortly after with the word “offered” removed, prompting some did-he-jump-or-was-he-pushed speculation, after this week’s controversial auditor-general’s report that revealed undeclared conflicts of interest in recruitment.

Monday, November 27: Shadow treasurer Scott Bacon demanded to know what happened in the lead-up to the surprising resignation and said the Department of Education’s work would be disrupted by its secretary acting as head of DPAC from Tuesday.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said Johannes was a “truly outstanding secretary” and it appeared Hodgman had tried to throw him under the proverbial bus, but the premier denied this and told an ABC journalist she was reading too much into the press release being re-issued with a minor change.

Hodgman said Johannes had not raised any concerns about his comments following the recruitment audit and paid tribute to his many achievements as head of the central agency, which the secretary listed in his parting email:

When I look back, some of the DPAC achievements that I will treasure most will include:

  • Supporting a visit to Tasmania by the President of China;
  • Developing and implementing a nation leading and award winning approach to reducing family violence;
  • Becoming accredited as a White Ribbon organisation, rolling out new organisational values and opening up conversations about the importance of mental health in the workplace;
  • Developing and implementing a Service-wide approach to graduate, management and leadership development for the first time in over a decade;
  • Migrating the entire State Service to a completely new communications platform;
  • Supporting Tasmanian athletes to achieve their best in the Paralympics and Olympics;
  • Welcoming the State’s fabulous Service Tasmania network into our Department and seeing it continue to expand its suite of service;
  • Partnering with the unions to take a stand on the issue of violence and aggression against State Servants;
  • Helping our State achieve the best possible outcomes at COAG on issues ranging from the future of the Federation to counter-terrorism;
  • Driving a focus on diversity and inclusion across the State Service, including making great strides toward our gender equality targets;
  • Conducting leading-edge research on the impact of climate change on fires and our World Heritage; and
  • Winning the annual photo competition and being part of the successful team at the inaugural PAC quiz night in the same 12 month period (and I think I won a raffle somewhere in there too).

You have achieved all of these things as a team (except the photo prize and the raffle), working together, and I have had the profound privilege of supporting you.

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