The Rudd government, via the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, has advertised for “Ministerial Staff Positions for the New Rudd Labor Government”. Now that Labor is in government, is is faced with two issues. Firstly, Ministers are entitled to larger staff compliments than when in Opposition, and secondly, the new government is likely to be able to attract higher calibre candidates than when they were in Opposition.
Ambitious ‘rising stars’ in the public sector are likely to be attracted to a stint in a ministerial office, offering as it does, invaluable insight into the detailed workings of the governmental level of public administration.
A number of Department Secretaries have been in ministerial adviser roles at some point in their careers, as have a number of Deputy Secretaries.
Ken Henry, head of Treasury was an adviser to Paul Keating when he was Treasurer. Michael L’Estrange, head of Foreign Affairs and Trade was an adviser to several Liberal Opposition leaders between 1989 and 1994. Peter Boxall, head of the previous DEWR and now head of the less important new Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, was an adviser to Andrew Peacock when he was Deputy Opposition Leader.
The fact that both Boxall and L’Estrange have not lost their jobs under the new Labor government, is testament to their significant capability, but also the fact that Rudd does not intend to be deflected from the laser sharp focus he intends to maintain on his main election agenda – the “Education Revolution’, the rollback of the Workchoices legislation, the climate change agenda and the reform of the hospital system.
Expressions of interest are being sought for a range of positions for the offices of the Prime Minister, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, with salaries ranging from the $50,000 to $90,000 for people in administrative roles such as Office Managers, Executive Assistants and Secretaries, to Media Advisers on salaries from $70,000 to $150,000. The key roles are Policy Advisers, responsible for providing advice to the Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries for defined areas of ministerial responsibility, and Senior Managers and Senior Policy Advisers on salaries from $100,000 to $150,000.