A government cannot do everything. Political capital, senior management time, public attention, and money all limit the number of worthwhile reforms that a government can pursue. And doing major reform is hard work.

Substantial reform that really makes a big difference is unlikely to emerge from either the latest thought bubble, or a kitchen-sink list of reforms. But explicit frameworks for priority-setting in the public sector are few and far between.

This presentation will explore new thinking on how to prioritise better. It will lay out the frameworks that Grattan has developed over a decade of research to prioritise policy reforms in order to maximise the public interest, while acknowledging the realities of politics.

When responding to a particular policy challenge, governments should assess and prioritise amongst alternative responses. The presentation will explore some of the frameworks Grattan has developed for prioritising reforms in response to particular policy issues.


Dr John Daley will present on the topic ‘Prioritising Reform’ for about 40 minutes; followed by a brief panel discussion, followed by general discussion and Q&A.

About the presenter:

Dr John Daley is one of Australia’s leading public policy thinkers. He has been Chief Executive of the Grattan Institute since it was founded over ten years ago.

Grattan Institute’s independent, rigorous, and practical policy work has established it as Australia’s leading domestic policy think tank. Its work ranges across education, health, energy, cities, housing, transport, budget, and tax issues.

John has published extensively on economic reform priorities, budget policy, tax reform, retirement incomes and housing affordability. A theme of the importance of government prioritisation runs through this work.

He has 30 years’ experience spanning academic, government and corporate roles at the University of Melbourne, the University of Oxford, the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, consulting firm McKinsey and Co, and ANZ Bank. John graduated LLB (Hons) and BSc at the University of Melbourne in 1990. He completed a D Phil in public law at the University of Oxford in 1999.

The panel:

Senior practitioners and academics will initiate the discussion by providing some brief comments.

Panellists will include Ms Christine Castley (Deputy Director-General, Department of Premier & Cabinet, Queensland); Professor Karen Hussey (Director, Centre for Policy Futures, University of Queensland); and Professor Brian Head (Governance and Public Policy Program, University of Queensland, who will MC this event).


Level 2, Global Change Institute, Building 20, Staff House Road, St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland
Seminar Room