Peter Varghese remarks to the Institute of Public Administration Australia

9 June 2016

Outgoing DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese shared his reflections on more than 38 years as a public servant and offered advice to the next generation of public service leaders.

In a valedictory speech to the Institute of Public Administration Australia in Canberra on 9 June, Mr Varghese spoke about the institutions which make our democracy and the challenges facing the Australian public service. 

‘One of the points I wish to emphasise is the need to move away from the tyranny of the current’, he said.

Achieving lasting change can only come if it is embedded in an organisation’s culture, through persuasion and vision, and the hard yards of incremental improvements in pursuit of a bigger agenda.

‘I am a convert to radical incrementalism. It is radical in that it sets out a clear vision, clear principles and clear values, and recognises that translating vision into reality requires a series of smaller steps,’ Mr Varghese said.

The IPAA invited Mr Varghese to speak in the tradition of asking departing departmental Secretaries to reflect on issues in public administration.

His speech made clear that the remarks should not been seen as a comment on the present Federal election nor on the position of any individual or political party.

Full text of Secretary Varghese’s speech: Parting Reflections - Secretary’s speech to IPAA.

Last Updated: 9 June 2016
Peter Varghese