Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health


Speech at the Public Sector Innovation Awards

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Innovation in the public service

Speech at the Public Sector Innovation Awards

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Thank you Gordon and good afternoon everyone.

I had the pleasure of working with Gordon in my capacity as Minister for the Environment.

And after almost three years working together, I had hoped on taking up my new role last week that it wouldn’t be the last I would see of Gordon.

Little did I know we’d be sharing the stage only a week later!

So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Gordon for his outstanding support as Secretary of my former department as well as his leadership as President of the IPAA’s ACT Division.

I also thank Glenys Beauchamp, the secretary of my new department, for the very warm welcome I’ve received and for her hard work in making the transition as seamless as possible.

I have a deep personal interest in industry, innovation and science, and I am delighted to have been appointed to the position of minister with responsibility for these areas.

In only my second week in the job, I can think of no more fitting place to be than right here—celebrating the best of the best when it comes to innovation in the public service.

1. Importance of Innovation

My new portfolio is first and foremost about jobs—about long-term job security and job creation.

Innovation is not about setting up a binary struggle between what some people call the ’old’ economy versus the ’new’ economy.

It is about supporting individuals and businesses in our economy to transition and help us to become more competitive in the global environment.

We need to make sure Australians have well-paying jobs today, tomorrow and into the future.

It’s in this context that innovation is so important—not just for app developers, start-up experts and venture capital entrepreneurs, but for Australians of all ages and from all walks of life.

2. Innovation in the private sector

Innovation is the critical driver of productivity in Australia, accounting for around 60 per cent of our productivity growth.

It occurs in businesses of all sizes and in all sectors of the economy, not just in a few high-tech start-ups or global companies like Uber, Google and Facebook that often grab the headlines.

Businesses that innovate perform better than those that don’t; they make more sales, they generate more profit and they employ more people.

That’s why we need to make sure the policy environment is right for existing and new businesses to innovate.

The Prime Minister’s National Innovation and Science Agenda is fundamental to this and one of my portfolio priorities is to continue to implement its measures.

The Agenda is helping people with good ideas to create new businesses and helping existing businesses make the changes they need to drive down costs and be more competitive.

It is also helping to build the skills we need for our emerging and future industries and fostering greater collaboration between industry and the science and research sectors.

The Agenda recognises that innovation has never been more important for Australia.

It’s important to businesses in sectors as diverse as agriculture, retail and manufacturing—it’s happening on our farms, at our supermarket checkouts and on our factory floors.

3. Innovation in the public sector

And, as today’s awards highlight, it’s absolutely essential in the public service.

In my previous Environment portfolio, I was proud to be involved in the development of a number of key innovative policies, including:

• the establishment of the Emissions Reduction Fund
• the introduction of a Threatened Species Commissioner, and
• the establishment of the $210 million Reef Trust and $1 billion Reef Fund.

The Prime Minister expects government to be a catalyst for the broader Australian community when it comes to innovation.

That’s why one of the key pillars of the National Innovation and Science Agenda is government as exemplar — that is, government leading by example by embracing innovation in everything it does.

• Data: For example, we’re requiring all Australian Government bodies to make non-sensitive high value data open by default so the private sector can use it to create innovative products. We’re also going to be challenging small and medium businesses to solve difficult policy and service delivery problems through a $19 million Business Research and Innovation Initiative.
• Bizlab: Inside my own department, Bizlab is driving this change by developing innovation skills and behaviours, and building programmes with a user centred design focus.
• Digital Transformation Office: We’ve already established the Digital Transformation Office.

And the DTO is now building a new Digital Marketplace to make it easier for small and medium businesses to sell technology services to government.

I won’t go into each of these measures in detail right now.

But I do want to emphasise that innovation is at the heart of the Government’s agenda.

And it must be at the core of everything the public service does.

Whether we’re talking about the challenges of digital disruption or data transparency or public expectations for faster and more personalised services, the APS must harness innovation.

It can be tempting to resist change but the reality is that the public service must, just like any other sector, grasp the enormous opportunities presented by these transformations.

As the Prime Minister said in his address to the APS earlier this year:

“The key to success for a 21st century APS is to embrace innovation and technology—to think big and bold and to be committed to learning and leadership at every level.”


I am pleased that so many people have taken this message to heart and been nominated for one of the inaugural Public Sector Innovation Awards.

I congratulate in particular all the finalists here today whose new ideas, methods and initiatives set the benchmark for innovation across the entire APS.

I thank the ACT Division of IPAA and particularly its CEO, Drew Baker, for holding these awards in partnership with my department and the Public Sector Innovation Network.

And I thank all of the judges, sponsors, and other individuals and organisations, who have contributed to the success of this event.

As I said at the outset, I can think of no more fitting event for a new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science to attend, and I look forward to working with you all in this capacity.

Thank you.

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