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Successful Public Policy


This book swims against the currents of scepticism, negativism and disillusionment with politics and government that beset many nations today. It looks purposefully at the ‘bright side’ of public policy in Australia and New Zealand, and provides detailed case studies of instances in which governments by and large got it right and made positive differences to the lives and wellbeing of countless citizens, to the strength of their economies and, sometimes, to their country’s standing in the world.

In selecting the public policies to study as success cases, we sought advice from two panels—one in Australia and one in New Zealand. These panels comprised senior academics with deep knowledge of public policy and practitioners with many years of experience in and around government at the highest levels. We wish to thank Guy Beatson, Jonathan Boston, Jennifer Curtin, John Daley, Michael Di Francesco, Grant Duncan, Meredith Edwards, Derek Gill, Arthur Grimes, Brian Head, Ken Henry, Girol Karacaoglu, Terry Moran, Mark Prebble, Graham Scott, Peter Shergold, Gary Sturgess, Anne Tiernan and Sally Washington for generously sharing their thoughts. As well as providing initial nominations of success cases, many also offered further comments on our shortlists of cases and helped in the identification of potential chapter authors.

We could not have produced this book without the expertise, hard work and enthusiasm of our contributing authors. When we invited them to participate, many confessed to feeling a sense of joy to be given the opportunity to grapple with a story of positive accomplishment. We thank them for their exemplary work.

This book is one product of the Successful Public Governance (SPG) research program at Utrecht University. The program has been made possible by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant Agreement No. 694266). The ERC’s support is gratefully acknowledged. In addition to the present study, readers interested in case studies of policy successes are advised to consult this project’s ‘twin’—also available in open-access form online—containing 15 similar case studies of policy success from around the world (Mallory Compton and Paul ’t Hart, eds, Great Policy Successes, Oxford University Press, 2019). Other activities and outputs from this program can be found at Joannah Luetjens and Paul ‘t Hart would like to thank their SPG team colleagues for their support and feedback throughout the making of this book.

Professor Ken Smith, Dean and Chief Executive Officer of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), has been a staunch supporter of this book project. We gratefully acknowledge ANZSOG’s financial and logistical assistance for the authors’ workshop held in Melbourne in June 2018. As the premier provider of public sector executive education in Australia and New Zealand, ANZSOG will be a key ally in ensuring that the case studies in this book play their part as intended. For one, several of the case studies will be abridged and adapted into very concise teaching tools and will be published in ANZSOG’s John L. Alford’s case library (—aptly named in acknowledgement of our former colleague Professor John Alford, whose leadership on case teaching has inspired us.

Special thanks go to Madeline Thomas, Research and Administrative Officer at ANZSOG, who cheerfully and effectively contributed at every stage to the logistics and editing activities associated with the project. We also wish to thank John Wanna and Sam Vincent, who provided extensive support in getting the book from manuscript to publication with ANU Press. Any omissions or errors of course remain entirely our responsibility.


November 2018

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