|00:00:17||Brian Head recounts his early history, including his birth in Fiji, his early education at state schools in rural and urban Victoria, and his high-school education at Scotch College in Melbourne. He summarises his undergraduate and graduate degrees in politics at Monash University and his PhD at the University of London, and discusses his early academic positions in Melbourne, at Murdoch University in Perth, and then at Griffith University.||Fiji, Griffith University|
|00:01:56||Brian Head recalls his arrival in Brisbane in 1982, and the concern with the apparently unassailable Bjelke-Petersen regime. He briefly discusses the eventual downfall of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, and the election of the Goss Government on a reform platform. He discusses his position as the first head of policy in the Premier's Department in 1990, and discusses the selection process in the context of the post Bjelke-Petersen merit-based appointment system. He also mentions the gulag to which many senior Bjelke-Petersen public servants were sent by the Goss Government.||1989 election, Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Commonwealth Games 1982, Erik Finger, Glyn Davis, Goss Government 1989-96, Gulag, merit based selection, Mike Ahern, Premier's Department, Public Sector Management Commission|
|00:05:41||Brian Head discusses the public service gulag, and what he calls the political brutality of the early Goss years. He describes the policy limbo which he faced at the Premier's Department, noting that the new government did not trust the existing public servants, and discusses the reshaping of the section under Kevin Rudd in 1991.||Beattie Government 1998-2007, Cabinet Office, Goss Government 1989-96, Gulag, Kevin Rudd, Premier's Department|
|00:09:22||Brian Head discusses his job in the Queensland Premier's Department in the context of the changes wrought by Prime Minister Bob Hawke's new federalism, as well as his position as Cabinet Secretary and the reshaping of the Cabinet Office.||Bob Hawke, Bob Smith, Cabinet Office, Cabinet Secretariat, COAG, Erik Finger, federalism, Gary Sturgess, Kevin Rudd, Nick Greiner, Premier's Department|
|00:12:24||Brian Head describes his reluctant decision to leave the Cabinet Office to head up the Public Sector Management Commission in 1994 and the work of the commission, including strategic human relations and industrial relations.||Beattie Government 1998-2007, Bob Marshman, Cabinet Office, Goss Government 1989-96, Industrial Relations, Peter Coaldrake, Public Sector Management Commission, unions|
|00:16:20||Brian Head discusses his work at the PSMC in the context of the public service's discontent with constant restructuring, and their disquiet with the failing Goss Government in late 1995. He comments that while the Goss Government was an excellent reformer, it was seen as less effective in day-to-day service delivery.||Courier mail, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Goss Government 1989-96, human services, Public Sector Management Commission, Tom Burns, Wayne Goss|
|00:21:08||Brian Head discusses the decline in the Goss Government's popularity and loss of votes in 1995 in terms of its technocratic approach and its inability to respond to public opinion. He talks about his desire to change the aims and reputation of the Public Sector Management Commission.||Gold Coast, Gold Coast Motorway, koala habitat, Mundingburra by-election 1996, Public Sector Management Commission, Springwood|
|00:23:13||Brian Head discusses the public service in the dying days of the Goss Government, and the disruption and restructuring wrought by the incoming Borbidge Government in 1996.||Borbidge Government 1996-98, Goss Government 1989-96|
|00:25:10||Brian Head discusses the sacking, redeployment and kitchen leave of senior public servants at the start of the Borbidge Government. He notes that because he could not be sacked, he was re-deployed to the Department of Main Roads at a lower pay level in 1996. He discusses Borbidge's re-appointment of many Bjelke-Petersen era public servants, and the public discontent with these actions.||Beattie Government 1998-2007, Borbidge Government 1996-98, Gulag, Kevin Wolfe, Main Roads, Mineral Resources, Public Sector Management Commission|
|00:29:15||Brian Head describes being made the Public Service Commissioner in the new Beattie Government in 1998, and negotiating the employment of a number of CEOs under the changed (and perhaps weakened) definitions of merit based employment.||Beattie Government 1998-2007, merit based selection, Public Sector Management Commission, Public Service Commissioner|
|00:32:40||Brian Head contrasts the Beattie Government with the Goss Government in terms of their impact on the public service. He states that while the Goss Government carried out large-scale, modernising reforms, the Beattie Government made much smaller scale, mainly political changes. He discusses his position as Public Service Commissioner in the Beattie Government, including the conflict with the Premier which eventually lead to his redeployment to the Environment Department in 2000.||Beattie Government 1998-2007, Crime and Misconduct Commission, Environment and Heritage, Goss Government 1989-96, Peter Beattie, Public Service Commissioner|
|00:35:54||Brian Head comments on his years in the public service, reflecting that he counts his own learning curve and the establishment of Premiers Conferences (which became COAG) as two of his greatest achievements. He discusses his work with leadership programs in the public service, particularly given the resistance to these initiatives. He remarks on the influence that working in a variety of postings in government has had on his own research into good governance since he left the public service in 2003.||COAG, Goss Government 1989-96|
|00:40:05||Brian Head discusses the disappointments of his career, dwelling on the endings of things, particularly the decline of the Goss Government from 1995, and his move from the Office of the Public Service Commissioner in 2000.||Goss Government 1989-96, Public Service Commissioner|
|00:42:09||Brian Head describes his life after leaving the public service in 2003, including applying for a range of jobs before accepting a research chair at Griffith University, the challenge of re-establishing himself as a senior academic after having been in the public service for 13 years, and his subsequent move to the University of Queensland.||Griffith University, University of Queensland|
|00:45:02||Brian Head describes the hostility towards him when he joined the public service and his frustration when the suitability of his appointment was discussed in parliament and other public fora. He discusses the renewed scrutiny that accompanied his direct appointment to the Office of Public Service Commissioner in 1998.||Public Service Commissioner|
Brian Head worked as a senior public servant in both the Goss and Beattie governments, working on the reconfiguration and management of the public service and in the Cabinet Office.
Brian Head has had a long career both in academia and as a public policy practitioner. He was born on 16 January 1948 in Fiji and moved to Australia. His family settled in Victoria and he attended a series of state schools before winning a scholarship to Scotch College where he finished his education. Head then undertook further study, eventually completing his doctoral research at the University of London before returning to Australia. He worked in a range of academic positions before moving to Brisbane in 1982.
In 1990 Head moved from a position at Griffith University to became the first head of policy within the Premier's Department. During the Goss years Head held a number of positions. From his initial appointment he migrated to the newly formed Office of the Cabinet in 1991. In 1992 he was offered the position of Cabinet Secretary. He negotiated an arrangement where he would run the secretariat for fifty percent of the time and run the inter-governmental relations agenda for the other half of the time. In 1994 he then shifted to head the Public Sector Management Commission (PSMC), while the Goss Government undertook substantial reform of the public service and the machinery of government. Merit based selection criteria for the public service was introduced and new agencies, such as the Office of Cabinet and the PSMC, were established.
During the Borbidge Government Head was moved to the Main Roads Department at a lower pay level and spent several months on ‘kitchen leave’ (see glossary) in the lead up to the 1998 election. Labor’s return to office signalled Head’s return to public sector management. Premier Beattie appointed Head to the role of Public Service Commissioner where he was involved in the appointment of a number of department heads. In 2000 he took up a role in the Environment Department. After 13 years in the Queensland public service Head returned to academia to a Chair in the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Queensland.
Copyright © The Centre for the Government of Queensland, the University of Queensland, 2011.
The copyright holder of this material grants users permission to access the material on this website for the following purposes only: research and study, education, other non-commercial and non-public uses.