In 1981, academic Patrick Weller teamed up with renowned political commentator and journalist Michelle Grattan to publish Can Ministers Cope?, a study of the challenges facing Australia's federal government ministers. With the federal Labor government just twenty months into its first term in office, it was time to revisit the question 'Can ministers cope?' and to broaden the focus to ask how they cope, especially as relatively young and sometimes inexperienced players, in the transition to government after a long period in opposition. Anne Tiernan and Patrick Weller draw on extensive interviews with current and former ministers, ministerial staffers and senior officials, to discover how a new ministry learns to juggle their simultaneous roles of member of Parliament and Cabinet, local constituency representative, and media spokesperson, not to mention their lives outside work. Learning to Be a Minister is an in-depth examination of the day-to-day life of Australia's federal ministers at work.
Anne Tiernan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Politics and Public Policy at Griffith University. She is author of Power Without Responsibility. Her research addresses the capacity and performance of executive advisory systems, and particularly relations between partisan and non-partisan advisers. Dr Tiernan sits on the Board of Commissioners of the Queensland Public Service Commission and regularly advises governments on public sector issues. Patrick Weller, AO, a graduate of Oxford and the ANU, is the Premier of Queensland Chair of Public Management and Director of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, where he has held a chair since 1984. He is the author, co-author or editor of some 36 books on Australian politics and comparative institutions, including Malcolm Fraser- Prime Minister, Australia's Mandarins and Cabinet Government in Australia.