John Wanna

John Wanna is Emeritus Professor in both the School of Politics and International Relations, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University, and the School of Politics and International Relations at Griffith University.

orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9342-3138

Designing Governance Structures for Performance and Accountability »

Developments in Australia and Greater China

Publication date: 2020
Designing Governance Structures for Performance and Accountability discusses how formal and informal governance structures in Australia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan may be designed to promote performance and to ensure accountability. The book presents a selection of papers developed from the Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration’s seventh workshop held in June 2017 hosted by City University of Hong Kong. Insights are provided on both current developments in the different contexts of the three jurisdictions examined, and on broader institutional and organisational theories. Chapters cover theories of organisational forms and functions in public administration, the ‘core’ agency structures used in the different jurisdictions, the structures used to deliver public services (including non-government organisational arrangements) and other ‘non-core’ agency structures such as government business enterprises, regulatory organisations and ‘integrity’ organisations. A particular emphasis is placed on the institutional arrangements the executive arm of government uses for advising on and implementing government policies and programs. Although the book explores arrangements and developments within very different political governance systems, the purposes of the structures are similar: to promote performance and accountability. This book is a companion volume to Value for Money: Budget and Financial Management Reform in the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia (ANU Press, 2018).

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Road Pricing and Provision »

Changed Traffic Conditions Ahead

Publication date: July 2018
Road pricing is not a new concept—toll roads have existed in Australia since Governor Macquarie established one from Sydney to Parramatta in 1811—and distance-based charging schemes have been trialled and implemented with varying success overseas. But how would full market reform of roads look in a federation like Australia? In its responses to the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan and the 2015 Competition Policy Review, the Australian Government explicitly supported investigating cost-reflective road pricing as a long-term reform option, and has committed to establishing a study chaired by an eminent Australian to look into the potential impacts of road pricing reform on road users. The challenges we face in this space are manifold and complex, and we still have a long road ahead of us. However, with advocacy for reform coming from interest groups as diverse as governments, private transport companies, peak industry bodies, policy think tanks and state motoring clubs, there is now more support than ever before for changing the way we provide for and fund our roads. This book seeks to advance the road reform agenda by presenting some of the latest thinking on road pricing and provision from a variety of disciplinary approaches—researchers, economists and public sector leaders. It stresses the need for reform to ensure Australians can enjoy the benefits of efficient and sustainable transport infrastructure as our population and major metropolitan cities continue to grow. Traffic congestion is avoidable, but we must act soon. The works presented here all point to the need for change—the expertise and the technology are available, and the various reform options have been mapped out in some detail. It is time for the policy debate to shift to how, rather than if, road reform should progress.

Opening Government »

Transparency and Engagement in the Information Age

Publication date: April 2018
Transparency and citizen engagement remain essential to good government and sound public policy. Indeed, they may well be the key to restoring trust in government itself, currently at an all-time low in Australia. It is ironic, then, that this has occurred at a time when the technological potential for information dissemination and interaction has never been greater. Opening Government: Transparency and Engagement in the Information Age explores new horizons and scenarios for better governance in the context of the new information age, focusing on the potentials and pitfalls for governments (and governance more broadly) operating in the new, information-rich environment. Its contributors, a range of international and Australian governance academics and practitioners, ask what are the challenges to our governing traditions and practices in the new information age, and where can better outcomes be expected using future technologies. They explore the fundamental ambiguities extant in opening up government, with governments intending to become far more transparent in providing information and in information sharing, but also more motivated to engage with other data sources, data systems and social technologies.

Value for Money »

Budget and financial management reform in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia

Publication date: January 2018
The Greater China Australia Dialogue on Public Administration has held annual workshops since 2011 on public administration themes of common interest to the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Australia. This book presents and discusses a selection of papers developed from the Dialogue’s fifth workshop held in late 2015 hosted by the National Taiwan University in Taipei. The theme, ‘Value for Money’, focused on budget and financial management reforms, including how different nations account for the relative performance of their public sectors. All governments face the challenge of scarce resources requiring budgetary management processes for identifying the resources required by and available to government, and then for allocating them and ensuring their use or deployment represents value for money. Such budgetary and financial management processes need to inform decision-making routinely and protect the integrity of the way public resources are used – with some public accountability to indicate that their uses are properly authorised and reflect the policies of legitimate government leaders. The chapters in this book explore budgeting and financial management in three very different jurisdictions: Australia, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan). These activist and at times innovative countries are keen to analyse and reflect upon each other’s policy achievements and patterns of public provision. They are keen to learn more about each other as their economic and social engagement continues to deepen. They are also conscious that fundamental differences exist in terms of economic development and global strategic positioning, and levels and philosophies of political development; to an extent these differences are representative of differences amongst countries around the globe.

Sharpening the Sword of State »

Building executive capacities in the public services of the Asia-Pacific

Publication date: November 2016
Sharpening the Sword of State explores the various ways in which 10 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific enhance their administrative capabilities through training and executive development. It traces how modern governments across this region look to develop their public services and public sector organisations in the face of rapid global change. For many governments there is a delicate balance between the public interest in promoting change and capacity enhancement across the public service, and the temptation to micro-manage agencies and be complacent about challenging the status quo. There is a recognition in the countries studied that training and executive development is a crucial investment in human capital but is also couched in a much wider context of public service recruitment, patterns of entry and retention, promotion, executive appointment and career development. This empirical volume, authored by academics and practitioners, is one of the first to chart these comparative differences and provide fresh perspectives to enable learning from international experiences.

Managing Under Austerity, Delivering Under Pressure »

Performance and Productivity in Public Service

Edited by: John Wanna, Hsu-Ann Lee, Sophie Yates
Publication date: October 2015
Contemporary public managers find themselves under pressure on many fronts. Coming off a sustained period of growth in their funding and some complacency about their performance, they now face an environment of ferocious competitiveness abroad and austerity at home. Public managers across Australia and New Zealand are finding themselves wrestling with expenditure reduction, a smaller public sector overall, sustained demands for productivity improvement, and the imperative to think differently about the optimal distribution of responsibilities between states, markets and citizens. Given ever-shrinking resources, in terms of staffing, budgets and time, how can public managers and public services become more productive, more outcome-driven and more agile? How can we achieve better alignment between ever-growing citizen expectations and the realities of constrained service provision? What can we learn from the best combination of innovation and austerity already being delivered in other countries and sectors, including harnessing the grounded wisdom of frontline service delivery practitioners? This book focuses on practical ways public managers at home and abroad are dealing with these shared dilemmas. It brings together renowned scholars in the fields of public sector productivity, performance management, ‘frugal innovation’ and budget stringency, with leading international and Australasian practitioners sharing their successes and challenges.

A Dissident Liberal »

The Political Writings of Peter Baume

Edited by: John Wanna, Marija Taflaga
Authored by: Peter Baume
Publication date: September 2015
In the ‘broad church’ of the Australian Liberal Party, rarely has there been a maverick so unrelenting in his commitment to personal principles as Senator Peter Baume. Over a parliamentary career spanning 17 years, three ministerial portfolios and five party leaders, Baume was increasingly pitted against his own party room. In A Dissident Liberal: The Political Writings of Peter Baume, we learn of personal threats, crises, constitutional confrontation and the tension between conservatism and classical liberalism—and between ideology and toeing the party line. This collection of personal observations, speeches and commentaries on contentious policy issues presents a valuable resource for students of Australian political history.

New Accountabilities, New Challenges »

Publication date: April 2015
This important and challenging volume of essays draws on insights from leading academics and public servants from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere. It provides an excellent series of critiques of both the systemic accountabilities and the policy processes of government by drawing on meticulously researched, topical and real-world case studies of governance. Its contribution to the understanding of the applied processes of government in this way is exemplary. Topics covered include: restoring trust in government, parliamentary scrutiny of the APS, administrative law and FOI, budgetary reforms, implementation issues, competition policy, indigenous administration, collaboration with the NGO sector, educational reforms and the changes to the Auditor- General’s mandate.

Abbott's Gambit »

The 2013 Australian Federal Election

Publication date: January 2015
This book provides a truly comprehensive analysis of the 2013 federal election in Australia, which brought the conservative Abbott government to power, consigned the fractious Labor Party to the Opposition benches and ended the ‘hung parliament’ experiment of 2010–13 in which the Greens and three independents lent their support to form a minority Labor government. It charts the dynamics of this significant election and the twists and turns of the campaign itself against a backdrop of a very tumultuous period in Australian politics. Like the earlier federal election of 2010, the election of 2013 was an exercise in bipolar adversarial politics and was bitterly fought by the main protagonists. It was also characterised (again) by leadership changes on Labor’s side as well as the entry of new political parties anxious to deny the major parties a clear mandate. Moreover, the 2013 election continued the trend whereby an increasing proportion of the electorate chose not to vote for one of the main two political parties. While the 2013 election delivered a clear victory to the Coalition in the Lower House, it simultaneously produced a much more mixed outcome in the Senate, where the Greens managed to record their largest ever representation and a new party, the Palmer United Party, initially secured three Senate positions at its first attempt (together with the election of Clive Palmer to a Queensland seat in the House of Representatives). With minor and micro parties also winning Senate seats amounting to a total of 18 Senators on the cross-benches, the Abbott government’s ability to govern and pass legislation was placed in some doubt. The 2013 election result suggested that far from ending the preceding tumultuous period of Australian politics, it merely served to prolong this era indefinitely. The 2013 campaign was one of the longest on record, arguably commencing when the besieged Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the date for the election in late January 2013 – then over seven months away. This unconventional tactic overshadowed the election from that date onwards – providing a definite timeline for Labor infighting, influencing the largely negative tactics of the Opposition, and encouraging new parties to proliferate to contest the election. This volume traces these formative influences on the campaign dynamics and explains the electoral outcome that occurred (including the 2014 re-election for the Western Australian Senate seats ordered by the High Court). Abbott’s Gambit includes insightful contributions from academic experts, campaign directors and electoral watchers, political advisers and professional psephologists. Contributors utilise a wide range of sources and approaches, including the Australian Election Survey, to provide a detailed analysis of this important federal election.

Future-Proofing the State »

Managing Risks, Responding to Crises and Building Resilience

Publication date: May 2014
This book focuses on the challenges facing governments and communities in preparing for and responding to major crises — especially the hard to predict yet unavoidable natural disasters ranging from earthquakes and tsunamis to floods and bushfires, as well as pandemics and global economic crises. Future-proofing the state and our societies involves decision-makers developing capacities to learn from recent ‘disaster’ experiences in order to be better placed to anticipate and prepare for foreseeable challenges. To undertake such futureproofing means taking long-term (and often recurring) problems seriously, managing risks appropriately, investing in preparedness, prevention and mitigation, reducing future vulnerability, building resilience in communities and institutions, and cultivating astute leadership. In the past we have often heard calls for ‘better future-proofing’ in the aftermath of disasters, but then neglected the imperatives of the message. Future-Proofing the State is organised around four key themes: how can we better predict and manage the future; how can we transform the short-term thinking shaped by our political cycles into more effective long-term planning; how can we build learning into our preparations for future policies and management; and how can we successfully build trust and community resilience to meet future challenges more adequately?

Putting Citizens First »

Engagement in Policy and Service Delivery for the 21st Century

Publication date: August 2013
This book explores the ways in which governments are putting citizens first in their policy-making endeavours. Making citizens the focus of policy interventions and involving them in the delivery and design is for many governments a normative ideal; it is a worthy objective and sounds easy to achieve. But the reality is that putting citizens at the centre of policy-making is hard and confronting. Are governments really serious in their ambitions to put citizens first? Are they prepared for the challenges and demands such an approach will demand? Are they prepared to commit the time and resources to ensure genuine engagement takes place and that citizens’ interests are considered foremost? And, more importantly, are governments prepared for the trade-offs, risks and loss of control such citizen-centric approaches will inevitably involve? The book is divided into five parts: setting the scene: The evolving landscape for citizen engagement drivers for change: Innovations in citizen-centric governance case studies in land management and Indigenous empowerment case studies in fostering community engagement and connectedness case studies engaging with information technology and new media. While some chapters question how far governments can go in engaging with citizens, many point to successful examples of actual engagement that enhanced policy experiences and improved service delivery. The various authors make clear that citizen engagement is not restricted to the domain of service delivery, but if taken seriously affects the ways governments conduct their activities across all agencies. The implications are enormous, but the benefits to public policy may be enormous too.

With the Benefit of Hindsight »

Valedictory Reflections from Departmental Secretaries, 2004–11

Publication date: April 2012
Secretaries of government departments in Australia are the bureaucratic leaders of their generation. They are ambitious, highly-talented executives who have risen to the very pinnacle of their chosen vocation – public service to the Australian nation – usually after having spent most, if not all, of their professional careers dedicated to the public service. They serve governments as their top advisers and in policy terms are often some of the most important decision-makers in the country. This collection brings together the valedictory speeches and essays from a departing group of secretaries (and one or two other equivalent agency heads) who left the Australian Public Service between 2004 and 2011. Over this period of time it gradually became accepted that departing secretaries and heads of significant agencies would present a valedictory address to their peers at a public farewell function. The first two speeches in this collection were initiated informally and given at functions organised by their agencies; in 2005 the process was formalised with the Australian Public Service Commission acting as organiser. These contributions contain reflections, commentaries, occasional fond memories or key turning-points in careers, critiques of changes that have occurred and an outline of the remaining challenges their successors will face as the public administrators of tomorrow. From the outset it is clear that there is no uniform message, no single narrative levelled either in praise or in criticism, other than pride in the public service and strong belief in the contribution it makes to the Australian community. They have their own personal ‘takes’ on how the public service looks to them, on its performance and on the challenges confronting public administration into the future. Most spend some time looking back, reflecting on the extent of change that has occurred over the length of their careers; but equally importantly they look forward, anticipating future policy dilemmas and capacity challenges.

Julia 2010: The caretaker election »

Publication date: February 2012
This book provides a comprehensive coverage of one of Australia’s most historic elections, which produced a hung parliament and a carefully crafted minority government that remains a heartbeat away from collapse, as well as Australia’s first elected woman Prime Minister and the Australian Greens’ first lower house Member of Parliament. The volume considers the key contextual and possibly determining factors, such as: the role of leadership and ideology in the campaign; the importance of state and regional factors (was there evidence of the two or three speed economy at work?); and the role of policy areas and issues, including the environment, immigration, religion, gender and industrial relations. Contributors utilise a wide range of sources and approaches to provide comprehensive insights into the campaign. This volume notably includes the perspectives of the major political groupings, the ALP, the Coalition and the Greens; and the data from the Australian Election Survey. Finally we conclude with a detailed analysis of those 17 days that it took to construct a minority party government.

Delivering Policy Reform »

Anchoring Significant Reforms in Turbulent Times

Publication date: April 2011
Predictable and unpredictable challenges continually confront the policy settings and policy frameworks of governments. They provide a constantly changing dynamic within which policy-making operates. Governments at all levels are asking their public services to identify innovative and workable reforms to anticipate and address these challenges. Public service leaders around the world are struggling not only to better anticipate emerging demands but also to address reform backlogs. However, time and time again, major policy reforms can prove tough to implement – especially in turbulent environments – and even tougher to anchor over time. This leads to considerable uncertainty and inefficiency as governments and policy communities try to keep pace with change. Policies that unravel or are dismantled are costly and represent wasted opportunities. They lead to cynicism about the effectiveness of governments and public service advice more generally, making it more difficult to deal with other emerging challenges. This volume of proactive essays on delivering policy reform offers an intriguing blend of strategic policy advice and management insight. It brings together a diverse range of highquality contributors from overseas as well as from Australia and New Zealand – including national political leaders, public service executives, heads of independent agencies, and leading international scholars.

The Ayes Have It »

The history of the Queensland Parliament, 1957–1989

Publication date: July 2010
‘The Ayes Have It’ is a fascinating account of the Queensland Parliament during three decades of high-drama politics. It examines in detail the Queensland Parliament from the days of the ‘Labor split’ in the 1950s, through the conservative governments of Frank Nicklin, John Bjelke- Petersen and Mike Ahern, to the fall of the Nationals government led briefly by Russell Cooper in December 1989. The volume traces the rough and tumble of parliamentary politics in the frontier state. The authors focus on parliament as a political forum, on the representatives and personalities that made up the institution over this period, on the priorities and political agendas that were pursued, and the increasingly contentious practices used to control parliamentary proceedings. Throughout the entire history are woven other controversies that repeatedly recur – controversies over state economic development, the provision of government services, industrial disputation and government reactions, electoral zoning and disputes over malapportionment, the impost of taxation in the ‘low tax state’, encroachments on civil liberties and political protests, the perennial topic of censorship, as well as the emerging issues of integrity, concerns about conflicts of interest and the slide towards corruption. There are fights with the federal government – especially with the Whitlam government – and internal fights within the governing coalition which eventually leads to its collapse in 1983, after which the Nationals manage to govern alone for two very tumultuous terms. On the non-government side, the bitterness of the 1950s split was reflected in the early parliaments of this period, and while the Australian Labor Party eventually saw off its rivalrous off-shoot (the QLP-DLP) it then began to implode through waves of internal factional discord.

Critical Reflections on Australian Public Policy »

Selected Essays

Edited by: John Wanna
Publication date: May 2009
This collection of ‘critical reflections’ on Australian public policy offers a valuable contribution to public discussion of important political and policy issues facing our nation and society. These essays are important not only because of the reputation and position of the various contributors, but because they are incredibly ‘content rich’ and brimming with new ideas.

Collaborative Governance »

A new era of public policy in Australia?

Publication date: December 2008
Collaboration has emerged as a central concept in public policy circles in Australia and a panacea to the complex challenges facing Australia. But is this really the cure-all it seems to be? In this edited collection we present scholarly and practitioner perspectives on the drivers, challenges, prospects and promise of collaboration. The papers, first presented at the 2007 ANZSOG Conference, draw on the extensive experience of the contributors in either trying to enact collaboration, or studying the processes of this phenomenon. Together the collection provides important insights into the potential of collaboration, but also the fiercely stubborn barriers to adopting more collaborative approaches to policy and implementation. The collection includes chapter from public servants, third sector managers, and both Australian and international academics which together make it a stimulating read for those working with or within government. It adds considerably to the debate about how to address current challenges of public policy and provides a significant resource for those interested in the realities of collaborative governance.

A Passion for Policy »

Essays in Public Sector Reform

Edited by: John Wanna
Publication date: June 2007
This collection of papers is concerned with issues of policy development, practice, implementation and performance. It represents a range of views about diverse subjects by individuals who are, for the most part, in the public eye and who have the capacity to influence the shape and the reality of public policy. Each has a story to tell, with insights that can only be drawn by those working at the ‘sharp end’ of policy.

Improving Implementation »

Organisational Change and Project Management

Edited by: John Wanna
Publication date: February 2007
The business of government is necessarily diverse, changing and of considerable scale. A focus on improving the implementation of government programs and initiatives is important because the community expects the Government to deliver on its policies, as does the Government. The papers included in this collection address numerous aspects of improving implementation. They were initially presented at the Project Management and Organisational Change conference held in Canberra in February 2006, the first annual research conference organised by ANZSOG in conjunction with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This collection represents a comprehensive drawing together of experience and insight from both practitioners and academic researchers, with speakers including top public sector executives from the Australian jurisdictions as well as representatives from the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

Australian Political Lives »

Chronicling political careers and administrative histories

Edited by: Tracey Arklay, John Nethercote, John Wanna
Publication date: October 2006
This monograph brings together some of the best practitioners of the art and craft of political biography in Australia. They are simultaneously some of our best scholars who, at least in part, have turned their attention to writing Australian political lives. They are not merely chroniclers of our times but multidisciplinary analysts constructing layers of explanation and theoretical insight. They include academic, professional and amateur biographers; scholars from a range of disciplines (politics, history, sociology, public administration, gender studies); and politicians who for a time strutted the political stage. The assembled papers explore the strengths and weaknesses of the biographical approach; the enjoyment it can deliver; the problems and frustrations of writing biographies; and the various ways the ‘project’ can be approached by those constructing these lives. They probe the art and craft of the political biographer.