Erik Finger

Interviewed by
Roger Scott & Brian Head
Feb 25 2011
Erik Finger
Time Summary Keywords
00:00:05 Erik Finger summarises his early history, including his birth in Boonah and primary education in nearby Kalbar, secondary education at St Peter's Lutheran College in Indooroopilly, and tertiary education at the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales. He discusses being the son of a Lutheran minister, his family's long association with St Peter's and his decision to study engineering.
00:03:44 Erik Finger outlines the ease of finding employment after graduating in 1961, his decision to work in highway and traffic planning and design at Main Roads, and his progression through the department over the subsequent 27 years. Ernie Hogan, Evan Fells, Main Roads, Sydney Schubert
00:07:14 Erik Finger outlines learning the work of public sector management while at Main Roads, and his role as Commissioner for Main Roads. Bill Gunn, Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Commissioner for Main Roads, Main Roads, Russ Hinze
00:09:30 Erik Finger speaks about his time as Commissioner for Main Roads, focusing particularly on his relationship with the Minister and the Premier. Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Commissioner for Main Roads, corruption, Main Roads, Russ Hinze
00:12:53 Erik Finger discusses the relationship between Main Roads and other departments, particularly Treasury and Transport, and the impact of the 1987 Savage Review of the public service. Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Leo Hielscher, Main Roads, Savage Commission of Inquiry, Sydney Schubert, Transport, Treasury
00:19:09 Erik Finger discusses the introduction of merit-based appointments under Mike Ahern, taking up the role as the head of Premier's Department in 1988, and his relationship with Premier Ahern. Ahern Government 1987-89, Fitzgerald Inquiry, merit based selection, Premier's Department, Savage Commission of Inquiry
00:25:36 Erik Finger discusses Mike Ahern's failed attempt to introduce reforms such as a code of conduct for ministers, and the foundations this laid for the later Goss Government reforms. Ahern Government 1987-89, corruption, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Goss Government 1989-96, public sector reform
00:28:57 Erik Finger recalls becoming Coordinator General in 1989 in addition to the head of Premier's, and the difficulty of balancing the two roles in the context of the governmental upheavals stemming from the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Ahern Government 1987-89, Coordinator General, Fitzgerald Inquiry, John Mulherin, Premier's Department
00:32:11 Erik Finger discusses the change of government at the end of 1989, being one of the few chief executives to keep his position, and the expansion of his role into policy development and advice under Goss. Coordinator General, Goss Government 1989-96, Kevin Rudd, Premier's Department
00:38:15 Erik Finger outlines the PSMC review of the Premier's Department, and the resultant introduction of the policy division and rethinking of departmental responsibility. Goss Government 1989-96, Premier's Department, Public Sector Management Commission
00:41:25 Erik Finger recalls the creation of the Office of the Cabinet in 1991 to absorb most of the policy and advice responsibilities of the Premier's Department. Cabinet Office, Goss Government 1989-96, Kevin Rudd, Premier's Department
00:44:45 Erik Finger outlines his changing but still amicable relationship with Goss after the creation of the Office of the Cabinet, and the way different departments responded to the new directions and challenges of the Goss Government. Goss Government 1989-96, Public Sector Management Commission, Wayne Goss
00:49:03 Erik Finger discusses the greater capabilities and added responsibilities borne by CEOs under the Goss Government, and changes to the way policy was developed. Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, directors general, Goss Government 1989-96
00:51:09 Erik Finger outlines what he views as some of the greatest successes of his career, including the improvement of rural roads and being able to keep the Premier's Department functioning during the turmoil of the late 1980s. He reflects on his regrets, including not being able to fully meet the policy challenges of the Goss era. Goss Government 1989-96, Main Roads, Premier's Department
00:54:54 Erik Finger describes the position of head of Premier's as the pinnacle of his public service career, and discusses his decision to retire, partly due to ill health. Goss Government 1989-96, Premier's Department
00:58:33 Interview ends