Bonus episode: Sue Vardon AO - inaugural CE of Centrelink (1997-2004)

The Westminster Tradition

26-12-2023 • 1 hr 31 mins

In this special holiday bonus, inaugural CE of Centrelink Sue Vardon AO joins Danielle and Caroline to talk through her submission to the Robodebt Royal Commission. Her submission outlines the changes in Centrelink that made Robodebt possible - as well as the things that have stayed the same.

She also takes us through her career, from being the only social worker in Wagga Wagga through to leading the establishment of Centrelink.

Along the way, she covers the difference between being a 'customer' and a 'recipient', the snap back of bureaucratic and hierarchical cultures, the value of operational experience and much more.

Grab at around 1 hr 6 min is Commissioner Holmes and Kathryn Campbell AO CSC and Bar, November 11 2022.

This podcast was recorded on Kaurna land, and we recognise Kaurna elders past and present. Always was, always will be.

Sue Vardon AO has 23 years of experience as a public sector Chief Executive, including CE of the Office of Public Sector Reform, the Public Service Commissioner and the CE of the Department for Correctional Services in South Australia. She was inaugural CE of Centrelink in 1997, a position she held until 2004.  She finished her full-time public service career as CE of the South Australian Department for Families and Communities. She was the first Telstra Businesswoman of the Year.

Now for some appropriately bureaucratic disclaimers....

Those of us in the employ of the State Government speak in a strictly personal capacity, consistent with the Public Sector Code of Ethics that permits public servants to promote an outcome in relation to an issue of public interest - in this case, the betterment of the public service.

Nothing we say should be taken as representing the views of the Government or our employers.

While we have tried to be as thorough in our research as busy full time jobs and lives allow, we definitely don’t guarantee that we’ve got all the details right.

If you want rigorous reporting on Robodebt, we recommend the work of Rick Morton at the Saturday Paper, Chris Knaus and Luke Henriques-Gomes at the Guardian, Ben Eltham at Crikey, Julian Bajkowski at The Mandarin, and of course, the Robodebt Royal Commission itself.

Please feel free to email us corrections, episode suggestions, or anything else, at thewestminstertraditionpod@gmail.com.

Thanks to PanPot audio for our intro and outro music.

'Til next time!

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