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Promiscuously partisan? Public service impartiality and responsiveness in Westminster systems


Grube, DC and Howard, C, Promiscuously partisan? Public service impartiality and responsiveness in Westminster systems, Governance, 29, (4) pp. 517-533. ISSN 0952-1895 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc

DOI: doi:10.1111/gove.12224


Public servants in Westminster countries are being drawn into the limelight by demands from their political masters that they publicly defend policies. Critics suggest these conditions undermine the capacity and willingness of senior public servants to manage the enduring Westminster tension between serving elected governments and remaining nonpartisan. Interviews with senior officials from Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom challenge this pessimistic view, showing that officials consistently stress the importance of not "crossing the line" when dealing with their elected masters. Two exploratory case studies are presented - one of an Australian ministerial department (Treasury) and another of a Canadian quasi-autonomous agency (Statistics Canada) - in which public servants faced pressure to defend controversial government policies. These cases show how contemporary public servants actively interpret, establish, and defend the line between appropriate responsiveness and inappropriate partisanship in Westminster systems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public administration
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Public services policy advice and analysis
UTAS Author:Grube, DC (Associate Professor Dennis Grube)
ID Code:110271
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-07-22
Last Modified:2018-03-19

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