The growing polarisation of our politics in the age of Trump and Brexit forms the premise for a fascinating – and potentially confronting – series of debates at the IPAA National Conference in Melbourne on 17 October.
Hosted by the ABC’s Tony Jones, the all-day event will bring some of Australia’s – and the world’s – most incisive political commentators to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a series of events examining the major ‘fault lines’ with the potential to shake our public sector to its core.
A special session on Working in a hyperpartisan world will look at the challenges for public servants created by increased political polarisation – with Jill Rutter, former Director of the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and Ed DeSeve, ex-Special Advisor to the US President and CFO of the US Department of Housing, joining Dr Helen Sullivan Director of the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU.
The conference will also explore the growing and contentious use of consultants by the public sector, with one recent study suggesting the Commonwealth currently spends over $700 million annually on consultants and “external experts”. This session, featuring two new Public Service Commissioners, Dr Paul Grimes from Victoria and Emma Hogan from New South Wales, will explore whether this investment supports – or inhibits – the public sector in terms of developing the capabilities we need it to have.
The IPAA National Conference – hosted in Melbourne for the first time in six years – will also look at the dramatic challenges and opportunities presented to public sector workplaces and services by rapid advances in automation, artificial intelligence, and other forms of digital disruption.
Michael Priddis, the founder of Faethm and former CEO of BCG Digital, believes that both government and corporate Australia are “spectacularly unprepared for automation” and that Australia urgently needs new strategies and policies if we are going to thrive through the next wave of digital transformation.
Jeff Borland, Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, isn’t convinced and argues that not only are we over-estimating the changes that automation will cause – but we have also faced these types of workplace-change issues before.
Bringing a public policy perspective to these two divergent views will be Jennifer Fleming, Chief Corporate Strategy Officer at the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs Training and Resources.
IPAA’s 2018 National Conference will finish with a final Q&A style discussion examining the future of the public sector given these fault lines and the many other challenges facing our sector.
The session will feature several seasoned and outspoken public sector leaders – including Gordon de Brouwer, former Commonwealth Secretary and a member of the recently announced APS Review; Terry Moran AC, former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; and Gill Callister, Victoria’s Secretary of Education and Training, and IPAA Victoria’s highly active president. They will be joined by a group of emerging public sector leaders, representing the next generation of public sector leadership.
The conference also features special presentations from IPAA national president Professor Peter Shergold AC, the 2018 Garran Oration delivered by former Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs, and Lessons for Westminster from Westeros – a special breakfast event exploring the lessons that the Game of Thrones can teach modern-day public administrators, presented by Dr Catherine Althaus and David Threfall from ANZSOG.
The 2018 IPAA National Conference is sponsored by KPMG and participants who register for before 14 September will be eligible for a substantial early bird discount.