From Postbox to Powerhouse

A centenary history of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Patrick Weller, Joanne Scott and Bronwyn Stevens
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The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is the heart of government in Australia. Its history reveals the growing sophistication in the way politics and government are managed, and provides fascinating glimpses of the day-to-day workings of the most important institution in the country.

Now a century old, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is at the heart of government in Australia. From Postbox to Powerhouse tracks its history, from its very humble beginnings as a department that did little more than circulate papers between other government departments.

Since the start of World War I, the federal government has extended its activities. As prime ministers became involved in all areas of government, so, decade by decade, the department became increasingly influential in its own right. Prime ministers have required talented and dedicated people to advise them. Today, the department is the centre of government, a powerhouse which not only serves prime ministers but in doing so must address the major national issues of the day, including climate change, capacity constraints, terrorism and skills shortages.

Through this history of a government department, we have a bird's-eye view of the radical changes in the way politics and government have been managed over a century, and many fascinating glimpses of the day-to-day workings of what is now one of the most important institutions in the country.

Author bio:

Professor Patrick Weller, AO, is Director of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University. Joanne Scott is Professor in History and Bronwyn Stevens is Program Leader for the BA (International Studies) at the University of the Sunshine Coast. They are authors of The Engine Room of Government: The Queensland Premier's Department 1859-2001.

Category: Politics & Government
ISBN: 9781742375144
Awards: Winner, The Australian Society of Archivists' Mander Jones Award, 2011
Table Of Contents: A Note On Sources


Introduction: The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in context


1. A separate department: Shepherd and Deane, 1911-1928

2. The three clerks: McLaren, Starling and Strahan, 1929-1949

3. Cerebral reaction: Brown, Bunting and Hewitt, 1949-1974

4. A second opinion: Menadue, Carmody and Yeend, 1974-1986

5. Policy driving: Codd and Keating, 1986-1996

6. Making it happen: Moore-Wilton, Shergold and Moran, 1996-2010


7. Working in the department

8. Supporting external and international affairs

9. Servicing the Cabinet

10. Federal-state relations

11. Policy advice

12. Leading the Australian Public Service

13. Reinvention and renewal



Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: August 2011
Page Extent: 360
Format: Hard Cover
Subject: Politics & government

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