Commissioner’s opening remarks at launch of Australia’s Public Service for the Government of the Day exhibition at MoAD
Australia’s Public Service for the Government of the Day exhibition launch
Speaker: Peter Woolcott AO – Public Service commissioner
What: Launch of Australia’s Public Service for the Government of the Day exhibition at MoAD
Date: 27 May 2021
Opening remarks, Peter Woolcott AO
Thank you Daryl, for those words of introduction, and for hosting us here this evening.
I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
And I would like to especially thank Lady Yeend and her daughter Julie for making the time to be here tonight.
You have a close personal connection to this building, to the institution of the APS, and also now to the exhibition that will shortly be launched. It’s wonderful that you’re able to join us this evening.
Now - this building – and the Museum that it houses – work in synchronicity to tell the story of Australia’s rich and vibrant democracy.
And for the first time, the role of the Australian Public Service in our democratic history is also being explored here in detail.
The APS is an extraordinary institution – unique in its role, its breadth and its responsibilities – and comprising 150,000 employees, across 14 portfolios, working in more than 100 agencies and authorities around Australia and across the globe.
Much has changed since the birth of the APS at Federation, but our fundamental role remains very much the same – to serve the government, the parliament and the people of Australia.
Our ability to do that for 120 years has been fundamental in supporting the government to foster the health and wealth of the nation – and they’re themes of this new exhibition.
It is fitting that the exhibition is housed in the former offices of Sir Geoffrey Yeend – a true servant of the public, who upheld the best traditions of the APS during his long career.
As an institution, the APS is similarly committed to serving the best interests of the nation. And the story of how we have done that over the last 120 years is worth telling.
The exhibition that is opening tonight is one part of the APS story.
Modest in size, it highlights the APS’s role in supporting government with a focus on areas related to the nation’s health and wealth.
A second exhibition is in development and will explore the role of the APS in supporting the community, providing an opportunity to highlight the diversity of APS careers.
It would not have been possible for us to create this exhibition without support and assistance on a number of fronts.
I would like to thank our key partners, Daryl Karp and her MoAD team and David Fricker and his team at the National Archives of Australia, for their expertise, professionalism and collaborative approach.
Thank you also to the APS agencies who have lent historical objects.
When we put out a call for contributions, our APS colleagues opened their collections and storage facilities – to the extent that we now have more than 500 historical objects logged in a central register.
I also extend my gratitude to the current and former public servants, who have contributed their time, expert advice and personal mementos to the development of the exhibition.
In particular, I’d like to thank Helen Williams AO, the APS’ first female secretary and former Public Service Commissioner. Helen’s lasting legacy has been introducing the APS values that serve at the heart of our work every day.
Thank you to the Secretaries Advisory Group, consisting of Michele Bruniges, Andrew Metcalf and Mike Pezzullo, who helped guide the overriding direction for the exhibition, and Phil Gaetjens for all his support.
I thank the exhibition curator, Holly Williams. Holly, you have captured some key moments in the history of the APS and used them to great effect in a small space.
And I would also like to thank finally Assistant Minister to the Minister for the Public Service the Honourable Ben Morton MP. This exhibition is very much a result of your conviction that the rich and evolving story of the Australian Public Service, and the role it has played and continues to play in our democracy, needs to be told.
So it’s with great pleasure that I invite Assistant Minister to the Minister for the Public Service the Honourable Ben Morton MP to officially open the exhibition.