Understanding the divergent development of the ministerial office in Australia and the UK

Maria Maley*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Large, politicised and separate ministerial offices are a feature of Australian government, while the UK ministerial office remains a hybrid unit which is part of the civil service. Using an historical institutionalist lens, and focusing on institutional factors, the article analyses why the separate partisan model evolved in Australia. It argues the Australian innovation was an historical compromise made in an unsuccessful attempt to move towards US-style political-administrative institutions. By contrast, the UK ministerial office has remained unified and hybrid, and, despite experimentation, resilient to structural and ideational change. There is ongoing pressure for more committed support for British ministers but strong forces have prevented moves towards larger offices, seen in the collapse of Extended Ministerial Offices. The article argues explanations for these divergent paths can be found in concepts such as critical junctures, path dependency and institutional resistance. The article contributes to an emerging comparative literature on advisory institutions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)320-335
    Number of pages16
    JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


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