APS commissioner John Lloyd resigns

By Stephen Easton

June 4, 2018

The Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has resigned, effective from August 8.

ABC federal press gallery reporter Jane Norman reported that APSC staff were informed about his resignation today.

The APS Commission has confirmed the resignation. “We have no further comment at this point in time,” a spokesperson said as the story broke. However, shortly after, the commission added a further comment, denying “recent events” were a factor.

The surprising development follows confirmation that a complaint against Lloyd had reached the office of the Merit Protection Commissioner, and the opposition’s ongoing scrutiny of the commissioner’s relationship with the Institute of Public Affairs, a think-tank that has argued employment conditions are too generous in the APS.

The slow-burning controversy began with an email chain released under freedom of information rules, showing Lloyd had forwarded the IPA a set of examples of APS employment conditions it could argue were overly generous.

Lloyd argued this was all publicly available information from the relevant enterprise bargaining agreements in one of many Senate estimates hearings where he was questioned over the matter by the opposition, and that he was merely communicating with a friend in a personal capacity.

Members of the opposition believe the commissioner’s emails give the appearance of political partisanship and may indicate inappropriate use of office resources.

In the most recent round of hearings, Prime Minister and Cabinet deputy secretary Stephanie Foster, a former deputy to Lloyd in the APSC, reported that an allegation about Lloyd had been given to PM&C secretary Martin Parkinson on December 13 last year and referred to the MPC on January 11.

Lloyd also stated in a short letter (below) to Senator James Paterson, who is another IPA alumnus, that he was not the subject of an investigation, after initially refusing to answer many of Labor’s questions on the matter before taking some questions on notice.

“He won’t be missed,” tweeted the Community and Public Sector Union, which has sparred with Lloyd for the duration of his term, while Lloyd’s former minister, Senator Eric Abetz, expressed “regret” at the news.

“In my time as the Public Service Minister, Mr Lloyd was highly effective in ensuring the public service was a more efficient and effective body that taxpayers could have confidence in,” Abetz said in a statement fired off almost immediately after the surprising development.

The Tasmanian senator praised Lloyd for helping to “reduce the size of government while ensuring a high calibre of service to the Australian public continued to be delivered” and said he was a “thoroughly decent person” who had dedicated much of his career to serving the nation.

“We thank him for his service,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when asked about the matter at the end of a press conference about drought assistance.

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