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Mr Peter Woolcott AO

Mr. Peter Woolcott AO commenced as the Australian Public Service Commissioner on 9 August 2018. 

Mr. Woolcott has had a distinguished career in the Australian Public Service, serving in senior diplomatic positions around the world.

He has served as Australia’s High Commissioner to New Zealand (2016–2017), Ambassador for the Environment (2014–16), and led the negotiations to the Paris Agreement on climate change (2016), Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Ambassador for Disarmament (2010–2014), Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues (2009), Ambassador to Italy (2004–2007), and Australian Consul‑General, Honolulu and Representative to US Commander‑in‑Chief Pacific (1998-2001).

Most recently he has served as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Chief of Staff.

Mr. Woolcott was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2017 for his distinguished service to public administration in the field of international relations, and as a lead negotiator in the non-proliferation and arms control fields.

Mr. Woolcott was Chair of the Final United Nations Conference on the Army Trade Treaty in 2013.

Role of the Australian Public Service Commissioner

The Australian Public Service Commissioner takes a leading role in ensuring that the Australian Public Service has the organisational and workforce capability to meet future needs, working collectively with Secretaries in stewardship of the APS.

The Commissioner has both statutory functions (under the Public Service Act 1999) and policy responsibilities. 

The Commissioner's overarching functions, as set out in section 41 of the Public Service Act, are:

  1. to strengthen the professionalism of the APS and facilitate continuous improvement in workforce management in the APS;
  2. to uphold high standards of integrity and conduct in the APS;
  3. to monitor, review and report on APS capabilities within and between Agencies to promote high standards of accountability, effectiveness and performance.

The Commissioner's functions also include promoting the APS Values, Employment Principles, and Code of Conduct.

The Commissioner reports annually to Parliament on the state of the service, including changes in the environment and infrastructure of the APS and emerging issues.

The Commissioner also has a number of inquiry and review functions including:

  • inquiries into allegations of misconduct by agency heads, and, in certain circumstances, APS employees and former employees;
  • systems reviews into management and structural issues within an agency, or the relationship between agencies;
  • special reviews into any matter relating to an agency or the relationship between agencies.

The systems and special reviews are undertaken at the direction of the Prime Minister.

The full list of the Commissioner's functions is set out in the Public Service Act 1999.

Last reviewed: 
28 September 2020