John Wanna

John Wanna is the ANZSOG Foundation Professor for the Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration based at The Australian National University.

The author or editor of 15 books, including two national textbooks on policy and public management, John Wanna has produced a number of research-based studies on budgeting and financial management including: Budgetary Management and Control (1990); Managing Public Expenditure (2000), From Accounting to Accountability (2001), and most recently Controlling Public Expenditure (2003). He was a chief investigator in a major Australian Research Council funded study of the Future of Governance in Australia (1999-2001).

His research interests include Australian and comparative politics, public expenditure and budgeting, and government-business relations. He also writes on state politics and has been a regular state political commentator for the ABC, The Courier-Mail, The Australian, other media outlets and commercial TV.

John is also Professor of Public Policy at Griffith University and honorary Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.

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

Road Pricing and Provision »

Changed Traffic Conditions Ahead

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

Edited by: John Wanna, Sam Vincent
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

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

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
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

Authored by: Peter Baume
Edited by: John Wanna, Marija Taflaga
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 »

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

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

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

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.

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