Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration: report

Local government Policy Public sector Australia
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This the final report of a 1974-1976 Royal Commission which examined how to reshape government administration in Australia.

This is the first time a digitised version of this report, known as the 'Coombs report', has been made publically available.

The Commission was tasked with examining:

"(i) the purposes, functions, organization and management of Australian Government Departments, statutory corporations and other authorities and the principal instruments of co-ordination of Australian Government administration and policy; and

(2) the structure and management of the Australian Public Service,

and to make recommendations for improving efficiency, economy, adaptability and industrial relations and the despatch of public business."

This Royal Commission was launched as part of the reform push by the Whitlam government, but was completed during the era of the Fraser government. It was not initially given a favourable reception, but over the following decades many of its recommendations were implemented, including:

  • abolition of the divisional structure
  • statutory expression of the merit principle
  • enhancement of EEO arrangements and enactment of anti-discrimination legislation
  • elimination of permanent officer/temporary employee distinctions
  • special employment arrangements for Ministerial staff
  • a separately defined senior executive category
  • all Australian Government employment to come within the industrial jurisdiction of the (then) Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
  • statutory expression of rights and obligations for APS employees
  • simplification of review processes.
  • a redesigned Public Service Act, reflecting the significant changes recommended by the Commission and incorporating a new central personnel authority charter.

The Commission consisted of H. C. Coombs (Chairman), P. H. Bailey (Commissioner), Enid Campbell (Commissioner), J. E. Isaac (Commissioner) and P. R. Munro (Commissioner).


Part of the Policy History Collection. Digitisation of this report has been supported by the National Library of Australia.

Reproduced with permission of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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