by political reporters Jane Norman and Henry Belot
One of Australia’s most senior and highly paid public servants has resigned amid questions over his conduct.
The Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd was appointed to the role by the Abbott Government in December 2014, but has advised the Governor General he’ll be stepping down in August.
Mr Lloyd was responsible for ensuring the bureaucracy complies with its code of conduct and meets professional standards.
He has proven a controversial figure in the federal public service due to his links to the right-wing think tank, the Institute of the Public Affairs, and the Government’s unpopular wage caps.
In January, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet referred an allegation that Mr Lloyd breached the Public Service Code of Conduct to the agency’s watchdog, the Merit Protection Commissioner, Mark Davidson.
The department did not make a judgement on whether the allegation was true, but there was a view that it was serious enough to be considered by the watchdog who makes sure the code of conduct is adhered to.
When the allegation was referred, Mr Davidson was only acting in the role. Given the allegation involved one of Australia’s most senior and highly paid public servants, Mr Davidson wanted the decision to be made once a permanent commissioner had been appointed.
But by mid-March, Mr Davidson was still acting in the role and he knew it wasn’t a good look to sit on an allegation for four months, so he asked a former department secretary to help him consider whether a formal investigation was necessary.
At this stage, it is not known what the allegation is, or who made it, but Labor and the unions have been very critical of Mr Lloyd’s ongoing correspondence with members of the Institute of Public Affairs, accusing his correspondence with them as bipartisan.
Before Mr Lloyd was appointed by the Abbott Government, he was the director of work reform and productivity at the IPA.
He has repeatedly defended his ongoing correspondence with the organisation as appropriate when pressed by Labor senators during estimates hearings.
Mr Lloyd’s last day will be August 8.