2 November 2023

Retired APS secretary takes on leadership of IPAA

| Chris Johnson
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man at lectern delivering a speech

Andrew Metcalfe delivered his APS valedictory speech in August and is now the new IPAA president. Photo: IPAA.

Former Agriculture Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe is the new Institute of Public Administration Australia national president following his election by IPAA’s national council at its annual general meeting.

He replaces Renée Leon who stepped down as president.

Mr Meltcalfe recently retired from the Australian Public Service following a lengthy and distinguished career leading three different departments and working directly with 15 portfolio ministers.

On his new appointment, he said he was honoured to have the opportunity to lead IPAA and expressed his gratitude for the “exceptional leadership” of Professor Leon who has led IPAA since July 2022.

“Public servants undertake key roles for the well-being of the Australian community every day, throughout Australia and right around the world,” he said.

“Over two million people work in the public sector. It is a key part of our economy.

“Well-delivered public services, provided by committed and high-performing public servants, are critical to our future as a country.

“IPAA National plays a crucial role in promoting excellence and pride in public service – a mission that is especially important in light of recent challenges.

“Under Professor Leon’s presidency, IPAA delivered a highly successful program of events.”

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Professor Leon said she had greatly enjoyed working on national programs and priorities to bring diverse perspectives that reflect member needs across Australia.

“It has been an honour to serve as the national president of IPAA.  As the voice of the public sector and the champion of its enduring values, IPAA plays a vital role in strengthening public service culture and capability,” she said.

“Over the past year, IPAA has focused on themes of significant importance to public servants across Australia in these times: integrity and values, and engagement with First Nations communities.

“I know there will be more work to progress on both fronts, and I have confidence in my successor as president and in the dedicated staff, partners and members of IPAA to take these themes forward.

“I thank my colleagues from all states and territories for their unity of purpose and their commitment to the values of public service that support citizens and keep our democracy strong and wish IPAA all the best for continued impact and contribution.”

Mr Metcalfe said he was keen to focus on strengthening IPAA’s relationships into the future.

“Together with the presidents and members of other IPAA divisions, we look to continue to strengthen IPAA’s relationships with wider groups in the public and private sectors involved in advancing public administration in Australia,” he said.

The Institute of Public Administration Australia is a member-based organisation promoting excellence and pride in public service across Australia.

It is nonpartisan, apolitical and not-for-profit.

READ ALSO Former head of public service tells government to raise taxes

Mr Metcalfe retired in August and delivered a valedictory speech to an IPAA forum. He outlined the highlights of an eventful career since joining the public service in 1980, including his sacking in 2013 by the newly elected prime minister Tony Abbott, which thrust him into a six-year stint in the private sector.

In his address, Mr Metcalfe said reform was needed in the APS for public administration to be less “fragmented” and “desultory” and to not be so over-dependent on budget allocations.

“I believe public servants need better formal preparation and training for the responsibilities of senior leadership,” he said.

“As they advance towards the SES[senior executive service], compulsory and formal training is essential.”

Mr Metcalfe urged the APS to focus on case studies of what has worked in the past and what has failed.

While there have been some terrible examples of how the public service has failed Australians, he said his experience was that overwhelmingly public servants strive to do the right thing.

“The Australian Public Service plays a critical role in our society, in our economy, in the defence and protection of our country, and in the lives of each and every one of us,” he said.

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