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ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith made an Officer of the Order of Australia

15 June 2021

News and media


image of ANZSOG Dean and CEO Ken Smith

ANZSOG’s Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his distinguished service to public administration, and to public sector leadership and education.

Professor Smith became ANZSOG Dean and CEO in May 2017, after a long career as a senior public servant, which included serving various governments and particularly for over 25 years working for the Queensland Government as Director-General of several major Queensland departments, including the Department of the Premier and Cabinet from 2007-2011, and as Queensland Agent-General and Trade and Investment Commissioner for Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa from mid-2011.

Professor Smith said it was an honour to receive the award, and a privilege to have been able to contribute to the public service and the broader community for more than 40 years.

“It has been a real honour to come to ANZSOG after serving in the Queensland Government both in Australia and overseas. ANZSOG is a relatively new organisation but has had a major impact on developing the public service both in Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand and internationally,” Professor Smith said.

“What we have done through our programs such as the Executive Master of Public Administration, Executive Fellows Program and other leadership programs, as well as our work we’ve done with specific jurisdictions and agencies is to ensure really positive impact and influence and lifted the quality of public services in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand.”

He said that the Australian and Aotearoa-New Zealand public services’ response to the COVID 19 pandemic had shown the value of high-quality public services that could develop policies to protect the community based on a solid evidentiary base.

“It is a heartening sign that trust in governments in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand has increased during the pandemic,” he said.

“From my experience in co-ordinating the Queensland Government’s response to various natural disasters such as the 2010/11 floods and cyclones, the big challenge we face is how do we take that goodwill from an emergency and translate that into our day-to-day work in improving the services and delivering public value?”

Professor Smith has undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in social work majoring in social policy and began his public service career in the mid 70’s while completing his first degree. In the late 80’s he worked in the Northern Territory initially in the child protection and juvenile justice areas. He has gone on to work in a range of positions across departments and policy areas including housing, urban affairs, infrastructure, social welfare and education. All of this work has involved extensive work within and across the Federation.

Professor Smith said that in his pre-ANZSOG career two experiences particularly stood out for him.

“The first was the honour of leading the Queensland Department of Education, and I retain a very strong interest in education policy and the importance of education outcomes for the whole community.

“I have also worked at a national level to introduce greater consistency of assessment and curriculum across Australia, and the introduction of Prep and Kindergarten arrangements and improving transition pathways from senior school to further education and work.”

Professor Smith is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and Australian College of Educational Leadership, and is a foundation member of the National School Resourcing Board.

“The second was leading a central agency in state government in a time of major reform of the federation (2007-2011).

“Our federation can sometimes be really frustrating, but it can also oversee long lasting positive and innovative reforms and when it performs really well, it produces reforms of the kind that lead the world. Things like gun law reform in the 1990s or our response to HIV-AIDS in the 80’s are great examples of this.”

Professor Smith said that the role of the public service was always changing but remained crucially important for the quality of democracy and society in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand.

“The last ten years has seen a major change in the role of the public service in providing evidence-based advice to governments. Public servants were operating in an increasingly contestable, complex and demanding environment, even before COVID,” he said.

“I’ve always believed in what we in ANZSOG call ‘public value’: that when we get alignment between the authorising environment, a clarity of purpose and properly lead and develop government agency’s capability to deliver we can do amazing things.”

“Public servants are a crucial part of our democratic infrastructure, they must provide support to the government of the day, offer the frank and fearless advice that governments need to hear, and take stewardship of public institutions for the benefit and interests of the whole community.”

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