Ex-Treasury boss Ken Henry to head public policy body

Ken Henry served as Treasury Secretary for 10 years. AAP/Alan Porritt

Former Treasury boss Ken Henry is headed to the Australian National University, where he will lead a new public policy institute modelled on Harvard University’s renowned Kennedy School of Government.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young announced today that Dr Henry, who is overseeing a white paper on “Australia in the Asian Century” for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will be the part-time executive chair of the Australian National Institute of Public Policy. The new body will bring together the Crawford School of Public Policy and other related research, teaching and outreach programs of the university.

Those programs would also be designed to boost the professional development of the Australian public service and public sector more generally, Professor Young said.

Building works now under way will join together in a single precinct the former Crawford School of Economics and Government, the recently established National Security College, HC Coombs Policy Forum and Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, Australian and New Zealand School of Government, and a new Public Policy Fellows Program drawing on wider ANU and public sector expertise.

The Australian Centre on China in the World, now in the process of construction, will also be included.

Dr Henry was appointed Treasury Secretary in 2001 and retained in the position until March last year. In June, he was appointed as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister.

“I am delighted Dr Henry will join us from mid-year in his role as Executive Chair of the new Institute,” Professor Young said. “He brings significant credibility in both academic circles and the Australian public service to this position.

"Along with Dr Ian Watt, Dr Don Russell and Professor Allan Fels - the external members of the new ANU Public Policy Advisory Board to be established to guide the new arrangements - he will bring the Australian public service and ANU closer together, and assist ANU in becoming a major international player in public policy.”

“The new Public Policy Fellows Program will recognise that enormous public policy expertise already exists elsewhere within ANU. The inaugural Fellows have been selected for their already very significant contributions to public policy and public understanding in areas as diverse as environment, health, finance and economics, defence, Indigenous affairs, population and international law,” Professor Young said.

ANU Chancellor, Gareth Evans, said: “As all the elements of the new public policy structure come together, we believe that ANU will be second to none in Australia, and in the top tier in the world, in the contribution it makes to public policy research and development, teaching and outreach.”