PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia


Prime Minister - Howard, John

Media Release - 20 December 2002

The Secretary of my Department, Mr Max Moore-Wilton AC, is resigning with effect close of business Friday, 20 December 2002. Until then, he will be off-line to finalise personal matters. Mr Moore-Wilton intends to take up a position in the private sector.
Mr Moore-Wilton was appointed Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in May 1996 after a distinguished career in both the Commonwealth Public Service and the private sector. He has served at the senior executive level in the trade and primary industries portfolios and as General Manager of the Australian Wheat Board. He also managed the Australian National Line and was Director-General of the NSW Department of Transport. Prior to re-joining the Australian Public Service in 1996, Mr Moore-Wilton worked at the Australian Stock Exchange.
I take this opportunity to record my deep appreciation for Mr Moore-Wilton';s outstanding leadership of the Australian Public Service since 1996. He has been my closest public service adviser and contributed significantly to all the major decisions of the government. I have particularly valued his unique combination of high level policy skills, business experience and knowledge of Commonwealth-State relations which has given him original insights in dealing with issues.
He has oversighted a remarkable period of change for the Public Service which has radically improved its efficiency, effectiveness and relevance. The introduction of a more decentralised financial, employment and industrial relations framework has encouraged a focus on individual performance and agency accountability. This framework is underpinned by the establishment of a service wide set of rules and code of conduct. Mr Moore-Wilton';s initiatives have included greater use of Secretary-level or senior-officer task forces to address whole of government issues, including the government';s ‘Tough on Drugs'; strategy, Coastal Surveillance, bilateral economic relations with New Zealand and People Smuggling.
He has made an important contribution to the government';s economic reform programme, including fiscal consolidation and inter-governmental aspects of the New Tax System. His business knowledge was very useful in recasting the government';s industry and investment policies and programmes.
Other notable achievements include Mr Moore-Wilton';s coordination of the Commonwealth';s involvement in the 2000 Olympic Games and his active and effective chairmanship of the senior officers Committee that provides advice to the Council of Australian Governments. He has strongly supported me in my capacity as Chairman of the Commonwealth, including in the review of Commonwealth objectives and coordinating the preparations for the highly successful 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Coolum, Queensland. I have particularly valued Mr Moore-Wilton';s advice on international relations, trade, defence and security policy. He has performed very effectively as Chairman of the Secretaries Committee on National Security which supports the National Security Committee of Cabinet. He was a key adviser in shaping the Government';s response to East Timor, the 2000 Defence White Paper and counter-terrorism measures.
While Mr Moore-Wilton has received general approaches about working in the private sector over some months, he indicated to me in recent weeks that he had been offered a specific position subject to decision by the relevant company board.
I sought advice from the relevant area in my Department regarding this matter. On the basis of that advice I am satisfied that in relation to his responsibilities and activities as Secretary to my Department, there are no issues which give rise to potential conflict of interest regarding his prospective employment. Mr Moore-Wilton has also provided me with an assurance that he is not aware of any conflict of interest in relation to his current position and the position he will take up. Since informing me of the conditional offer, arrangements were put in place to ensure that he did not receive material potentially relevant to his new position.
Janette and I wish Max and Jan the very best for the future. He has served Australia well and I have no doubt will be successful in all his future endeavours.
Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Executive Coordinator, Government and Corporate Group, will act as Secretary until further notice.