An introduction to politics and the institutions of government

This 3 hour introduction level course provides an overview for SA public sector officers (who are not from a political science or public policy background) of the broader political and institutional landscape within which they operate.

After completing the course, participants will:

  • have a grounding in the underlying political and institutional landscape of the Westminster system;  
  • be able locate their role (and that of their department) within the South Australian political and government ecosystem and better understand their role in the context of politics, the election cycle and the upcoming caretaker period; and
  • be more confident in dealing with challenges of government.

This seminar type course is highly interactive, with one or two break-out sessions for small group work on particular issues and reflections.

Contextualisation – both the presenters have held senior positions within the SA and Commonwealth public sector and / or Minister’s Offices and are comfortable for participants to raise “live” issues and challenges under “Chatham House” rules.

Presenters – Adam Graycar (Professor of Public Policy / Director, Stretton Institute) and Garry Goddard (Visiting Research Fellow, Stretton Institute / Director, Public Policy and Commercial Consulting).

Adam Graycar is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Stretton Institute at the University of Adelaide.  He has had careers in both academia and government. 

He has worked in universities in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia.  He acquired extensive policy experience over 22 years in the various senior level posts he has held in both the Commonwealth and the South Australian Governments.

He has two doctorates from the University of NSW, is the author of some 300 scholarly publications, and is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Garry Goddard is a professional economist, policy and regulatory analyst, and strategic commercial adviser, running his own consultancy practice.

He has over 25 years’ experience as a senior executive in both the Commonwealth and South Australian public sector and as a Ministerial Chief of Staff.  He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Stretton Institute of Public Policy at the University of Adelaide. 

Garry’s tertiary qualifications include a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Flinders University of South Australia and a Senior Executive Program in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Class Outline

  • Institutions of Government – covering:
    • An overview of structures and processes of the Westminster system (e.g. elections, political parties, policy platforms, Parliaments and the executive, the separation of powers etc.);
    • the role and powers of Parliament (incl. legislation making, regulations, tabling of documents and annual reports, the Lower and Upper Houses, Question Time, and key Parliamentary committees and examinations);
    • the role of Governors (and the Governor-General) and reserve powers under a constitutional monarchy;
    • the structure and roles of Executive Government (ministers and officials);
    • Australia’s Federal System (incl. the Commonwealth, the States and Territories, local government, inter-jurisdictional decision making (National Cabinet) and related fiscal issues); and
    • Relationship between “politics” “policy” & “administration” (illustrated through a couple of recent policy examples in South Australia). ; 
  • Small Group Session – practical examples from your experience.
  • Political parties and election cycles – covering:
    • the main political parties and where they stand on key issues;
    • Liberal – underlying ideology, key influences, factions and approach to key policy issues;
    • Labor – underlying ideology, key influences, factions and approach to key policy issues;
    • minor parties and independents;
    • interest groups and lobbying (including a discussion of the key holders of “informal power” in South Australia);
    • “election cycles” and how the mix of policy and politics can change over the cycle; and
    • caretaker conventions and the role of “blue” and “red” books.
  • Dealing with Ministers and Cabinet – covering:
    • role of Minister’s Offices (MOs) and how are they structured;
    • views of MOs from the public service (and how to manage);
    • views of the public service from MOs (and how to manage);
    • some observations on when to lead, when to follow and the effective use of key feedback loops; and
    • Ministers – a spotters guide …
  • Small Group Session – discuss how you would approach the “red” and “blue” book briefings for your portfolio.

    Register here
Tagged in events