Representative Bureaucracy in Action
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Representative Bureaucracy in Action

Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia

Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter

Taking a comparative and analytical perspective, the authoritatively, yet accessibly written, country chapters show how salient the politics of representativeness have become in increasingly diverse societies. At the same time, they illustrate the wide variety of practice based on different political systems, administrative structures, and cultural settings.
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Chapter 15: Representative bureaucracy in Australia: a post-colonial, multicultural society

Rodney Smith


Given its status as a former British colony, it is not surprising that Australia has developed a public sector that belongs within the anglophone or Westminster family. Over the past 40 years, Australia’s bureaucratic structures and traditions have undergone reform in response to changing political, economic, and ideological imperatives. Over the same period, governments have responded to Australia’s increasing social diversity by deliberately attempting to create socially representative public sector agencies. These efforts are analysed in this chapter, with particular attention given to the representation of minority immigrant ethnic groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the latter group will also be referred to as Indigenous Australians in this chapter). The argument in the chapter is that while the Australian public sector has made great strides toward representing social diversity within its ranks, the deeper implications of Australia’s status as a multicultural, post-colonial society for bureaucracy have not been fully recognized or acted upon.

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