Relationships between ministers and officials are fundamental to our system of government. The foundation of those relationships, like any relationship, is trust and mutual respect. It needs to be based on honesty, openness, and an understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities. ANZSOG ran a series of events to explore both the supply and the ‘demand side’ of good policy and good decision making, and the crucial relationships at the political administrative interface.
The ANZSOG series of conversations involved politicians and public servants, and were designed to shed light on what both sides can do to ensure the relationship is working at its best. They provided an opportunity to:
- Get the real oil from people on the demand and supply side of the relationship as well as those working at the interface, like ministerial chiefs of staff,
- Discuss challenges and opportunities for building relationships across the political administrative divide,
- Unpick key capabilities, skills, and behaviours for ensuring that good relationships lead to good decision making (like free and frank advice and having political nous).
This document brings together the themes and insights from the three conversations and includes material from previous ANZSOG research. It offers some practical advice and tips on what it means to have political nous and how to build and maintain good relationships at the political administrative interface. As Australia responds to the Robodebt Royal Commission and Aotearoa heads into a general election, it is an opportune time to reflect on ‘Ministers and Officials – how to get the relationship right’.
These articles contain further practical information on building the relationship between ministers and officials:
- Ministers and officials building the relationship with political nous
- The “Demand side” – Helping Ministers to be intelligent customers of policy services
- Ministers and officials: how to get the relationship right
TITLE: Ministers and Officials: How to Get the Relationship Right
AUTHORS: Sally Washington
SERIES: ANZSOG Research Insights
DATE: August 2023
PUBLISHER: Australia and New Zealand School of Government/Institute of Public Administration New Zealand
CITATION: Washington, Sally. Ministers and Officials: How to Get the Relationship Right: ANZSOG Research Insights No. 29. Melbourne: Australia and New Zealand School of Government, August 2023.
- Published Date: 3 August 2023