Secretary's Speech: APS Centenary
Following is the text of a speech by the Secretary at
a ceremony to launch the DFAT centenary display and to present, on behalf
of the Institute of Public Administration, APS Centenary medals to ten DFAT
recipients. The Secretary delivered the speech on 19 June 2001 in the
atrium of the R G Casey Building, Canberra.
Colleagues will know that this year marks the centenary of our Federation.
Less well-known is that it also marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian
Public Service. In fact the key antecedents of our department - the
Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of External Affairs - were
two of the seven original Commonwealth departments created at Federation in
1901. So this year is also our centenary.
As part of the departmentï¿½s contribution to the week of celebrations marking
the centenary of the Australian Public Service, I have great pleasure in launching
a display on the department's first hundred years. While we have also
presented here a selection of photographs covering some of the more traditional
images associated with foreign and trade diplomacy, the focus of the display
is more on our people and less on our role in the great events of Australian
foreign and trade policy over the last century.
A number of themes emerge from the display. First is the importance
of the Department of Trade in shaping our emerging presence in the world in
the first decades after Federation. At a time prior to the Second World
War when our foreign policy was still closely tied to that of Great Britain,
the trade department promoted vigorously our separate commercial interests
and our national identity through participation in trade exhibitions and,
from 1934, through the establishment of a trade commissioner service.
The second theme is the breadth of areas handled by the agencies that preceded
this department: from the obvious - foreign relations, trade negotiation and
promotion, cultural and public diplomacy and consular affairs; to areas as
diverse as promoting immigration, overseeing foreign aid, managing off-shore
fisheries, customs and quarantine, administering Papua New Guinea and other
external territories, and exploring Antarctica.
Third, the display provides a corrective to the stereotypes about our work
that are too readily portrayed in the media. It reveals a picture that
is in some ways closer to the reality of overseas service than any number
of cocktail parties. The fact is overseas service is often personally
and professionally demanding on our people and sometimes places them in harm's
way. For example, covered here is the tragic death of our trade representative
in Singapore - Vivian Bowden - at the hands of the Japanese in 1942, reporting
from our mission in Nanking of bombing attacks on the city by Nationalist
forces during the Chinese civil war in 1949 and the expulsion of our embassy
from Cairo during the Suez Crisis in 1956. The display also draws attention
to the DFAT tradition of volunteering for election monitoring and peacekeeping
roles in Africa, South-East Asia and the Pacific. For example, since
1998, over 100 DFAT officers have served alongside their defence force colleagues
in the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville. And since late last year,
we have led an international peace monitoring group in the Solomons.
The fourth theme of the display draws attention to what is, in my view, the
acid test for the department. That is, the work that we do providing
passports for Australians to travel overseas and helping Australians who run
into problems abroad. To put this in perspective, in 1999-2000 3.3 million
Australians travelled abroad. Over the same period, we issued almost
1.15 million passports. Thatï¿½s one every 27 seconds. Each year
DFAT assists more than 20,000 Australians in serious difficulty through our
consular network of more than 150 points of service throughout the world.
And over the past three years alone, DFAT staff in Canberra and on the ground
have coordinated major efforts to ensure the safety of Australians affected
by civil unrest in Indonesia and East Timor, Fiji, the Solomons and Papua
The ten colleagues that I have selected for the Institute of Public Administration's
APS centenary medals are all examples of this great tradition of service in
this department over the past hundred years. In keeping with the Institute's
intention, the recipients represent a range of current and retired colleagues
who have performed a variety of roles in an exemplary fashion.
Susan Begley: for over 20 years, Susan has been at the heart of our
statistical services area. Her client focus is a model of public service.
Few colleagues who have written a brief have not at some time relied on Susan
to get a key trade or GDP growth rate figure at short notice. Invariably
they have been struck by her calmness, grace and competence under pressure.
By example she encourages high levels of professionalism among her colleagues.
Billie Burke: through over 25 years and nine postings with the department
prior to her retirement in 1987, Billie showed great dedication as a personal
assistant in a series of very demanding positions. Billie was not only
good at what she did, she was quick to share her experience with junior staff.
This, together with her enthusiasm and positive attitude, helped set the tone
for the posts she served in. Retirement has not slowed Billie down:
we had to tear her away from the golf course to come here today.
Ken Devlin: Ken has been at the forefront of the introduction of secure
information technology to this department. In 1987, he established the
fledgling PC unit and by 1991 had managed to place a PC on every desk and
introduce the first cable dispatch facility at the desktop. He had a
leading role in the introduction of the ADCNET system and is currently playing
a management role in the migration to the new SATIN platform. Throughout
his career, Ken has been a model of cheerful, responsive service.
Jim Dollimore: For much of his time between joining in 1975 and retiring
in 1998, Jim was the unflappable, genial and ever-reliable public face of
the department. His integrity, helpfulness and unfailing courtesy earned
him the trust of the Canberra press gallery and other journalists here and
overseas. He was also generous in passing on his experience to others.
While Jim could not be here today he has asked that his son, James, accept
the medal on his behalf.
Peter Field: Peter had a long and distinguished career in the Department
of Trade and was a founding Deputy Secretary of DFAT. Peter served in
both Washington and Geneva and was Australia's lead negotiator throughout
the formative stages of the Uruguay Round. He also played a prominent
role in the development of the Cairns Group.
Gloria Hughes: while Gloriaï¿½s formal position prior to her retirement
in 1994 was that of filing clerk in South and South-East Asia Division, her
personality and longevity made her a key player in the department. For
example, she was on first name terms with a series of secretaries whom she
knew as trainees. Gloria was one of those key people who gives life
and spirit to an institution.
John McAnulty: John has shown exceptional courage and resilience on
at least two notable occasions. The first was when he evacuated the
Beirut embassy during the crisis there in 1984. His second contribution
has been as Senior Administrative Officer in Jakarta during the recent turbulent
times. For example, he was responsible for the security of the embassy
during the East Timor crisis in late 1999 when it was subject to some fifty
demonstrations, some very violent. As Consul, he was charged with the
safety of over 9,000 Australians in Indonesia. He performed these duties
in a fashion which brought credit to the department and the government.
Dawn Poke: For the past nine years in staffing, Dawn has been the
first point of contact for many junior new starters, helping them find their
feet and setting the tone for a positive experience in the department.
She also played a hidden but pivotal role in steering us through a period
of rapid reform, particularly as we faced the challenge of our first certified
agreement. Her dedication and steady professionalism make her a valued
colleague and unique asset.
Richard Rowe: Over a career spanning 30 years, Richard has made a
major contribution to the departmentï¿½s work on international legal issues.
He has served in a number of overseas posts and was a key player in the development
of the international law of the sea which protects our maritime interests.
More recently he played an instrumental role in negotiations leading to the
establishment of the International Criminal Court and has been heavily involved
in negotiations on the Timor Gap Treaty.
and finally, Doug Woodhouse: Throughout his career, Doug has brought
energy and dynamism to the jobs he has done. In New Delhi in the late
1980s, he made big improvements to the missionï¿½s property, administration
and consular services; a decade later he implemented major cultural change
reorienting and improving our information management area; and as head of
our Sydney office during the Olympic Games, Doug played a key role in delivering
the departmentï¿½s successful contribution to the Games.
That ends proceedings. I encourage colleagues to take a look at the