Turnbull’s chief of staff appointed as new Public Service Commissioner

Turnbull’s chief of staff appointed as new Public Service Commissioner
Photo by Thennicke via Wikimedia Commons.

Following the resignation of John Lloyd after questions over conduct, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appointed the new Public Service Commissioner. Peter Woolcott, his chief of staff, will be the person to fill the role.

The previous Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, had been accused of being biased by the Labour Party after sharing information with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), of which he was formerly an employee.

Lloyd denied such allegations and later resigned. He has claimed that he had previously been planning to resign and such an action was not affected by the recent events surrounding his controversy.

The new Public Service Commissioner, Peter Woolcott, is a public servant with a history in diplomacy. He has been on leave from his role as the Department of Foreign Affair’s deputy secretary.

There is unlikely to be much controversy over this appointment. The Community and Public Sector Union has approved of the new Public Service Commissioner, believing it to be a refreshing change from the “damaging ideological agenda of John Lloyd”.

The National Secretary of the CPSU, Natalie Flood, stated it is a “much needed change” and acknowledged his experience working with the Australian public service.

Woolcott has previously served as the High Commissioner to New Zealand in 2016 to 2017, and in 2014 to 2016 as Ambassador for the Environment.

His history of diplomacy includes serving as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador to Italy, and Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues. In 2002 to 2004, he occupied the chief of staff position to Alexander Downer, the foreign minister of the time.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that an independent review of the public service is under way and vocalised his confidence in Peter Woolcott’s suitability for his new role.

In light of Woolcott’s new position, his role as chief of staff will be passed to Clive Mathieson, who was Woolcott’s deputy in the Turnbull office. Mathieson is a former editor of The Australian.