Garran Oration

The Sir Robert Garran Oration was established by the ACT Division of IPAA to honour the memory of the first, and one of the greatest Commonwealth public servants.

On the inauguration of the Commonwealth on January 1 1901, Sir Robert Garran became the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department and Parliamentary Draftsman. Alfred Deakin was his first Ministerial chief and together they set about laying the statutory basis of Federal Government.

The first Garran oration on Leadership in the Public Service was delivered by Mr HFE Whitlam LLB in 1959 and the event has since remained a significant component of the annual IPAA National Conference.


Key, Rt Hon Sir John, GNZM
2017 IPAA National Conference, Canberra

The 2017 Garran Oration – Sir John Key

2017 Garran Oration – Video


Baird, The Honourable Mike, MP
2015 IPAA National Conference, Sydney


Pearson, Mr Noel, 

2014 IPAA National Conference, Perth

2014 Garran Oration


Banks, Professor Gary, AO

2013 IPAA National Conference, Canberra

2013 Garran Oration


Tharoor, Dr Shashi

2012 IPAA National Congress, Melbourne

2012 Garran Oration (starts at 10 mins)


Gillard, The Honourable Julia MP

2011 IPAA National Conference, Hobart

2011 Garran Oration


Spigelman, The Honourable James Chief Justice AC

Public Law and the Executive

2010 Garran Oration


Rudd, The Honourable Kevin MP

The Future for Public Administration as the Nation Responds to Global Developments and Changing Community Expectations

2009 Garran Oration


Davis, Glyn

One Big Conversation: the Australia 2020 Summit

2008 Garran Oration


Sanderson AC, Lieutenant General John

Western Reflections – Conversations On the place of Australian public services in a changing world

2007 Garran Oration


Vardon, Sue

Does Size Really Matter

2006 Garran Oration


Nossal, Prof Sir Gustav, AC CBE FAA FRS

Building a Better World

Australian Journal of Public Administration 63(1): 3-10, March 2004


Hetzel, Hon Dr Basil, AC

Powerful Connections and the Challenge of Change

Australian Journal of Public Administration 62(1): 3-8, March 2003


Bashir, Prof Marie, AC

Paper not available


Malcolm, Hon David, QC AC

The Garran Oration

Australian Journal of Public Administration 60(3): 3-10, Sept 2001


Conn, Dr Neil, AO

Restoring the Federation

Australian Journal of Public Administration 59(3): 3-10, Sept 2000


Brennan, Hon Sir Gerard, AC KBE QC

The Mechanics of Responsibility in Government

Australian Journal of Public Administration 58(3): 3-11, Sept 1999


Howard, Hon John, MP Prime Minister of Australia

A Healthy Public Service is a Vital Part of Australia’s Democratic System of Government

1997 Garran Oration



Turner, Patricia, AM

Public Policy in Indigenous Affairs: No Miraculous Solutions

Australian Journal of Public Administration 56(2): 3-11, June 1997

Patricia Turner holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Canberra. She worked as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1991-92) and was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (1994-98). She took the position of Deputy CEO of Centrelink in 2002.


Ayers, Tony, AC

Not like the Good Old Days

Australian Journal of Public Administration 55(2): 3-11, June 1996

During his years of public service, Tony Ayers was Secretary of the Department of Community Services and Health, Aboriginal Affairs, Social Security and Health.


Beazley, Hon Kim, MP

The Public Sector and Change

Australian Journal of Public Administraiton 54(3): 291-298, Sept 1995

Kim Beazley received a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 1973. He was first elected to Parliament in 1980. He has held numerous Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial positions since 1983 and was Deputy Prime Minister (1995-96). He is currently the Leader of the Opposition.


Button, John

Public Service A La Mode

Australian Journal of Public Administration 53(3): 437-442, Sept 1994

John Button was elected to the Australian Senate in 1974. He was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Shadow Minister for Communications (1980-83) and a member of the Labor Executive. He was Minister for Industry and Commerce (1983-93) in the Hawke Government.


Lawrence, Hon Dr Carmen, MP

Representing the Labor Party, Dr Lawrence was first elected to the WA Legislative Assembly in 1986. She acted in a number of ministerial roles until 1990 when she made history by becoming the first female Premier in Australia. In 1994 she entered Federal politics and held various ministerial positions, before returning to the backbench. She was President of the Australian Labor Party 1994-95.


O’Donoghue, Prof Lowitja, AC CBE

Ending the Despair

Australian Journal of Public Administration 51(2): 214-222, June 1992

Professor O’Donoghe is a member of the Yunkunytjatjara people of north west South Australia. She was the the first indigenous person to be appointed Regional Director of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (1975-76) and the inaugural Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (1990-96). She is a Trustee of the Rio Tinto Aboriginal Foundation. She was 1984 Australian of the Year and named as a National Living Treasure in 1998.



Gleeson, Gerald, AC

Decade for Debate

Australian Journal of Public Administration 50(1): 1-16, March 1991

Gerald Gleeson was Secretary of the NSW Premier’s Department under the Wran Government. He was a Chairman of the Catholic Education Commission and the first Chairman of the Sydney Harbour Authority. He was bestowed an IPAA National Fellowship in 1983.


Loton, Brian, AC

Advance Australia – Where?

Australian Journal of Public Administration 49(3): 205-210, Sept 1990

Brian Loton joined BHP as a Cadet in 1954, eventually becoming CEO in 1984 and Chairman in 1992. He has also been been a Director of many other corporations including National Australia Bank, Amcor Ltd, Woodside Petroleum and Elders IXL.


Hawke, Hon Robert, AC

Challenges in Public Administration

Australian Journal of Public Administration 48(1): 7-16, March 1989

Bob Hawke attended Oxford University (1953-56) on a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1958 he joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) as a researcher and subsequently became President (1969-80). In 1971 he was elected to the Federal executive of the Australian Labor Party, becoming President in 1973 for a five year term. Hawke joined Federal Parliament in 1980, was elected Labor Party Leader in 1983, becoming Prime Minister the same year. He became Australia’s longest serving Labor Prime Minister with eight years in office.


Bannon, John

Overcoming the Unintended Consequences of Federation

Australian Journal of Public Administration 46(1): 1-9, March 1987

John Bannon was elected to the SA House of Assembly in 1977 and became Opposition Leader of the Labor Party in 1979. In 1982 he became Premier and Treasurer, resigning in 1992.



Sackville, Hon Justice Ronald

The Process of Reform: Barriers and Pathways to Change in a Conservative Society

Australian Journal of Public Administration 45(1): 40-46, March 1986

Justice Ronald Sackville was a Professor of Law and subsequently Dean of the University of NSW Law School (1979-81). He was Chairman of the NSW Law Reform Commission (1981-84). He is currently a Federal Court Judge, having been appointed in 1994.


Dawkins, John

Reforms in the Canberra System of Public Administration

Australian Journal of Public Administration 44(1): 59-72, March 1985

John Dawkins was Minister for Finance (1983), Minister for Trade (1984-87) and Minister for Employment, Education & Training (1987-91) under the Hawke Government. He was Treasurer in the Keating Government (1991-93), resigning from politics in 1994.


Leslie, Jim

The Greatest Union

Australian Journal of Public Administration 43(1): 1-10, March 1984

Jim Leslie was Chairman of Qantas Airways Ltd from 1980-90 during which time the airline was partly privatised. He was previously Chairman and Managing Director of Mobil Oil Australia.


Stephen, Sir Ninian, KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE

Constitutional Change in Canada: Lessons and Analogies from across the Asia Pacific

Australian Journal of Public Administration 42(1): 173-186, March 1983

Sir Ninian Stephen was appointed a Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1970. He served as Governor General from 1982-1989 under the Fraser and Hawke Governments.


Tange, Sir Arthur, AC CBE

The Focus of Reform in Commonwealth Government Administration

Australian Journal of Public Administration 41(1): 1-14, March 1982

Sir Arthur Tange was Secretary of the External Affairs Department (1954-65) and Defence (1970-79). He was Australian High Commissioner to India (1965-70).



Parker, Robert Stewart

Statesmen in Disguise

Australian Journal of Public Administration 40(1): 1-11, March 1981

Prior to becoming Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University in 1963, Robert Parker held a number of teaching and research positions in Canberra and Wellington NZ. He is a National Fellow of IPAA.


Wheeler, Sir Frederick

The professional career public service: some reflections of a practitioner

Australian Journal of Public Administration 39(2): 162-179, June 1980

In 1939 Sir Frederick Wheeler joined the Treasury as a Research Officer, eventually becoming Secretary to the Treasury (1971-79). He was at the helm during some of the departments most turbulent years, including the 1974-75 Budget which followed the double dissolution election. He became a National Fellow of IPAA in 1984.


Evatt, Hon Justice Elizabeth, AC

The Administration of Family Law

Australian Journal of Public Administration 38(1): 1-12, March 1979

The first woman to present the Garran Oration, Elizabeth Evatt was Chief Judge of the Family Court of Australia (1976-88), Chancellor of the University of Newcastle (1988-94) and has served as part-time Commissioner to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1995-98) and as President of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1988-93). She was a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (1984-92) and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (1993-2000).


Fraser, John Malcolm, AC CH

Responsibility in Government

Australian Journal of Public Administration 37(1): 1-11, March 1978

An Oxford graduate, Malcolm Fraser became the youngest member of the 22nd parliament in 1955. He was a backbencher for 10 years under Menzies before taking a number of Ministerial positions. In 1975, as Leader of the Opposition he became Caretaker Prime Minister after the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government. Fraser’s Coalition government was returned a month later, remaining in office until 1983.


Sawer, Prof Geoffrey, AO

Seventy Five Years of Australian Federation

Australian Journal of Public Administration 36 (1): 1-11, March 1977

Geoffrey Sawer was the founding Professor of Law at the Australian National University. His expertise in consitutional law and government was widely acknowledged. He was Chairman of the Press Council from 1982-84.



Bland, Sir Henry, CBE

Public Administration – Whither

Sir Henry Bland was head of the Department of Labour and National Service from 1952-66. He was Secretary to the Department of Defence when Malcolm Fraser was Minister. He was knighted in 1965 and retired from the public service in 1970. He served a brief term as Chairman of the ABC in 1976-77.


Kerr, Rt Hon Sir John Robert, KCMG, LStJ, PC, AK, GCMG, GCVO

Ethics and Public Office

In 1964, Sir John Kerr was President of the Law Council of Australia. He was appointed Chief Justice of NSW in 1972 and was the Governor-General of the Commonwealth from 1974-77. He is the only person to have given two Garran Orations (1964 & 1974).


Whitlam, Hon Gough, AC QC

Australian Public Administration under a Labor Government

Gough Whitlam was Prime Minister from December 1972 until November 1975 when his government was famously dismissed by the Governor General Sir John Kerr.

Whitlam joined the Australian Labor Party in 1945, unsuccessfully contested the new State seat of Sutherland in 1950 and won the Federal seat of Werriwa at a by-election in November 1952. He was Deputy Leader of his party (1960-67) and thereafter Leader until 1977, a record term for his party.

Whitlam was invited to deliver the Sir Robert Garran Oration 14 years after his father delivered the inaugural Oration.


Else-Mitchell, Hon Justice Rae

Justice, Administrative Law and the Citizen

Rae Else-Mitchell was called to the NSW Bar in 1939 and the Victorian Bar in 1954. He was Secretary of the Commonwealth Rationing Committee (1943-45), Editor of the Australian Law Journal (1946-58) and Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Sydney (1951-58). He was appointed QC in 1955. Appointed a Judge of the NSW Supreme Court in 1958 and a Judge of the Land and Valuation Court in 1962. After retiring from the Supreme Court in 1974, he held the position of Chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission until 1989.


Mawby, Sir Maurice, CBE

The Australian Mining Industry – Prospects and Public Policies

In 1962 Sir Maurice Mawby was appointed Director of the Riotinto Zinc Corporation and Executive Chairman of its subsidiary Conzinc Riotinto of Australia, retiring in 1974. He served three terms as President of the Australian Insitute of Mining and Metallurgy. He was appointed CBE in 1959 and knighted in 1963.



Cowan, Prof Sir Zelman, AK, GCMG, GCVO, QC

Some thoughts on the Australian Universities

Sir Zelman Cowan was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, completing a Bachelor Degree in Civil Law. He was a Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England and the Unversity of Queeensland. He was knighted in 1976 and subsequently served as Governor-General of Australia (1977-82).


Crawford, Prof Sir John, AC CBE

The University and Government

Sir John Crawford was Director of Research in the Department of Postwar Reconstruction and also headed the Departments of Commerce & Agriculture and Trade. He was Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (1968-73) and Chancellor (1976-84), was an advisor to the World Bank and President of ANZAAS. He was named 1981 Australian of the Year.


Hasluck, Rt Hon. Sir Paul, KG, GCMG, GCVO

The Public Servant and Politics

Sir Paul Hasluck joined politics in 1949, holding roles of Defence Minister and Minister for External Affairs. He served as Governor-General of Australia from 1969-74.


Kirby, Hon. Sir Richard

A New Province for Law or Order?

Sir Richard Kirby was the longest serving President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission (1956-73). He received the award of Knight Bachelor in 1960.


Irish, Sir Ronald, OBE

A Businessman’s Views on the Administration

Sir Ronald Irish presented the Garran Oration in his capacity as Chairman of the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council. He was Chairman of Rothman’s of Pall Mall Australia (later British American Tobacco Australia) and received an OBE in 1963 and the award of Knight Bachelor in 1970 for services to commerce and industry.



Gunther, Dr Sir John T., CMG OBE

The Perspective of Public Administration in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea

Australian Journal of Public Administration 25 (2): 89-103, June 1966

Dr John Gunther was Director of Public Health (Papua & New Guinea), Assistant Administrator (Papua & New Guinea), Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua & New Guinea and Director of Bougainville Copper Ltd.


Kerr, Rt Hon. Sir John Robert, KCMG, LSt.J, PC, AK, GCMG, GCVO

Uniformity in the Law – Trends and Techniques

In 1964 Sir John Kerr was President of the Law Council of Australia. He was appointed Chief Justice of NSW in 1972 and was the Governor-General of the Commonwealth from 1974-77.


Barwick, Hon. Sir Garfield, QC OAM

Administrative Features of Legislation on Restrictive Trade Practices

Sir Garfield Barwick was the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth (1958-63) and after leaving Parliament was the Chief Justice of the High Court (1964-81).


Burns, Prof Arthur Lee

Politics and Administration in the European Economic Community

Arthur Burns was an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University.


Slim, Field Marshal Sir William Joseph, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC

During World War I, Field Marshal Sir William Slim served in Gallipoli, France and Mesopotamia. He took part in the East Africa and Middle East campaigns as well as serving in Burma during World War II. After returning to England in 1948 he became Chief of the Imperial General Staff. He served as Governor-General of Australia (1953-60)while Menzies was Prime Minister.


Whitlam LLB, Mr H.F.E. (Frederick)

Robert Garran and Leadership in the Public Service

Whitlam was Commonwealth Crown Solicitor and a member of the United Nations Committees which drafted and developed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.