Faultlines - is Westminster cracking up?

The theory and practice of our Westminster-style system of government is based on a model developed before cars and telephones were invented, and the contemporary world is putting unprecedented pressures on that model. In this session, we explore some of the biggest challenges to our current system of government in a ground-breaking discussion with senior public sector leaders.

Is it realistic to continue to hold minsters accountable for the actions of departments with thousands of staff – many of who work face-to-face with the public and complex systems and services – particularly when ministerial portfolios and departmental structures become unaligned? And if ministers aren’t accountable, then who is?

In the last Thought Leadership session of the week, three of Victoria’s most respected and farsighted State Government leaders will take on one of the most daunting challenges facing Australia’s system of governance. As well as questioning how Westminster institutions support service delivery and citizen engagement, the panellists – former Deputy Premier John Thwaites, and former Secretaries Fran Thorn and Yehudi Blacher – will analyse a number of scenarios involving the planning of complex cross-sectoral programs and the coordination of multiple government agencies, alongside new systems for place-based planning and programming.

What happens when public policy levers, regulatory tools and funding sources are spread across different tiers and departments of government? Do major policy initiatives, such as the NDIS and family violence reforms, demonstrate that large service delivery departments surrounded by a range of agencies with varying degrees of autonomy are no longer fit for purpose?

Around the world there is evidence of unprecedented levels of distrust in traditional political structures and processes. Can the uncodified principles and practices of Westminster – and the privileged position that the public sector holds – survive this latest wave of discontent and apathy?

9.00am-10.15am: Session part one
10.15am-10.45am: Morning tea break
10.45am-12.00pm: Session part two
12.00pm-1.00pm: Lunch

Friday 18 Aug

9:00AM - 1:00PM


Yehudi Blacher PSMJohn ThwaitesFran Thorn

Grand Ballroom 1 and 2


Corporate Member $375
Personal Member $350
Non-Member $500


Arrival tea and coffee

Morning tea


Thought Leadership


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