Arrive at work. I cycle to work each morning and the 15 min travel time cuts down my previous Melbourne commute by a fair bit. While the bike lanes aren’t quite to a Fitzroy standard, they’re not too bad and are improving across the ACT. The main AGD building has excellent end of trip facilities with a towel service thrown in, so fortunately I don’t need to worry about showering or choosing an outfit until I get to work.
I get to my desk and read through any new emails, including looking through the daily news clips to see whether the two regulatory schemes that my section takes care of have been mentioned in the media. Given that both of these schemes are topical and high profile, these might have an effect on the section’s work for the day. I continue drafting a response to some correspondence received a few days earlier from a person who has recently held a senior government position who has requested assistance in understanding their potential obligations under one of our transparency schemes. I take a few phone calls throughout the morning to assist stakeholders to navigate the online registration systems, and break up my morning completing a few discrete research tasks which might form the basis of a briefing where a person may have failed to comply with their reporting obligations.
I head next door to get coffee with my grad buddy who completed the program the year before. The café at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is the choice option thanks to being the best compromise between cost and quality, although I note that this is a point of substantial controversy. My buddy is always a wealth of knowledge on the grad experience, and is able to lend an ear and provide advice on any issues I’m having at work, as well as how to effectively navigate the graduate program.
I head to one of the many training sessions that are part of the graduate program, this time about Cabinet and Legislative processes. One of the directors in the department takes us through some examples of past legislative projects and funding proposals that he has been involved with, including the recent legislation which places obligations on internet hosting providers to report and remove unacceptable violent content posted online. We learn how to best support the Attorney-General and his office throughout this process to ensure that new legislation and other government priorities best reflect the intentions of government.
I take lunch out in the sun with some of the other graduates to share weekend plans and chat about our work. Once a week, rather than eating with the grads, I take my lunch over to DFAT for free German conversation classes, which have vastly improved my German language skills over the past few months.
I spend some of my afternoon finalising the response to the correspondence I had been working on earlier, which involves analysing the enabling legislation and explanatory materials to understand the policy context of how the legislation might work in this particular case. Again, coming to the graduate program as a non-legal Arts graduate has not prevented me from taking on technical legal work with the support of my colleagues, which has the added benefit of helping me to develop these soft skills. I find out in the early afternoon that the Minister is due to introduce a piece of legislation later in the week for which I wrote part of the second reading speech, so I get permission to take some time out of the office and visit Parliament House to see it introduced. I get back just before 5pm and start pulling together some points for a meeting brief that my director needs for a meeting with stakeholders early the following week.
I make sure to get out of work on time today to walk over to the National Gallery of Australia and attend a talk on the state of Australian foreign relations with a former senior career diplomat. Employees of AGD can attend events with the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) for free, so the canapes on offer are all the more delightful.
I cycle home and spend the remaining daylight checking up on the veggie garden that I’ve just set up and made sure that my composting worms are getting on with producing good compost. Over dinner, I watch that day’s Question Time highlights because there is always more time in the day to pay attention to politics.