Lessons in Governing is a unique contribution to the study of Australian policy, politics and government institutions. It examines the position of Chief of Staff to the Australian Prime Minister from the perspective of key individuals who have held it. Exploring the support needs of Australian political leaders, it traces the forces that have shaped the growth and specialisation of the Prime Minister's Office since Gough Whitlam first formalised the appointment of a trusted senior person as head of his private office in 1972.
Individuals in successive PMOs have long been recognised as key players, but their role has come under greater scrutiny as the link between prime ministerial effectiveness and the performance of their private offices has become more widely understood.
While insights and advice have been passed from one incumbent to the next, there has been no systematic attempt to understand and document the evolution of the chief-of-staff position. Lessons in Governing addresses this critical gap in our understanding of the contemporary practice of Australian political leadership, reporting the findings of a project designed to develop an empirically informed understanding of the role of prime ministerial chiefs of staff as seen by those who held the post.