|00:00:05||Erik Finger summarises his early history, including his birth in Boonah and primary education in nearby Kalbar, secondary education at St Peter's Lutheran College in Indooroopilly, and tertiary education at the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales. He discusses being the son of a Lutheran minister, his family's long association with St Peter's and his decision to study engineering.|
|00:03:44||Erik Finger outlines the ease of finding employment after graduating in 1961, his decision to work in highway and traffic planning and design at Main Roads, and his progression through the department over the subsequent 27 years.||Ernie Hogan, Evan Fells, Main Roads, Sydney Schubert|
|00:07:14||Erik Finger outlines learning the work of public sector management while at Main Roads, and his role as Commissioner for Main Roads.||Bill Gunn, Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Commissioner for Main Roads, Main Roads, Russ Hinze|
|00:09:30||Erik Finger speaks about his time as Commissioner for Main Roads, focusing particularly on his relationship with the Minister and the Premier.||Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Commissioner for Main Roads, corruption, Main Roads, Russ Hinze|
|00:12:53||Erik Finger discusses the relationship between Main Roads and other departments, particularly Treasury and Transport, and the impact of the 1987 Savage Review of the public service.||Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Leo Hielscher, Main Roads, Savage Commission of Inquiry, Sydney Schubert, Transport, Treasury|
|00:19:09||Erik Finger discusses the introduction of merit-based appointments under Mike Ahern, taking up the role as the head of Premier's Department in 1988, and his relationship with Premier Ahern.||Ahern Government 1987-89, Fitzgerald Inquiry, merit based selection, Premier's Department, Savage Commission of Inquiry|
|00:25:36||Erik Finger discusses Mike Ahern's failed attempt to introduce reforms such as a code of conduct for ministers, and the foundations this laid for the later Goss Government reforms.||Ahern Government 1987-89, corruption, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Goss Government 1989-96, public sector reform|
|00:28:57||Erik Finger recalls becoming Coordinator General in 1989 in addition to the head of Premier's, and the difficulty of balancing the two roles in the context of the governmental upheavals stemming from the Fitzgerald Inquiry.||Ahern Government 1987-89, Coordinator General, Fitzgerald Inquiry, John Mulherin, Premier's Department|
|00:32:11||Erik Finger discusses the change of government at the end of 1989, being one of the few chief executives to keep his position, and the expansion of his role into policy development and advice under Goss.||Coordinator General, Goss Government 1989-96, Kevin Rudd, Premier's Department|
|00:38:15||Erik Finger outlines the PSMC review of the Premier's Department, and the resultant introduction of the policy division and rethinking of departmental responsibility.||Goss Government 1989-96, Premier's Department, Public Sector Management Commission|
|00:41:25||Erik Finger recalls the creation of the Office of the Cabinet in 1991 to absorb most of the policy and advice responsibilities of the Premier's Department.||Cabinet Office, Goss Government 1989-96, Kevin Rudd, Premier's Department|
|00:44:45||Erik Finger outlines his changing but still amicable relationship with Goss after the creation of the Office of the Cabinet, and the way different departments responded to the new directions and challenges of the Goss Government.||Goss Government 1989-96, Public Sector Management Commission, Wayne Goss|
|00:49:03||Erik Finger discusses the greater capabilities and added responsibilities borne by CEOs under the Goss Government, and changes to the way policy was developed.||Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, directors general, Goss Government 1989-96|
|00:51:09||Erik Finger outlines what he views as some of the greatest successes of his career, including the improvement of rural roads and being able to keep the Premier's Department functioning during the turmoil of the late 1980s. He reflects on his regrets, including not being able to fully meet the policy challenges of the Goss era.||Goss Government 1989-96, Main Roads, Premier's Department|
|00:54:54||Erik Finger describes the position of head of Premier's as the pinnacle of his public service career, and discusses his decision to retire, partly due to ill health.||Goss Government 1989-96, Premier's Department|
Public servant Erik Finger was Commissioner for Main Roads from 1982-86 and head of the Premier's Department from 1988-94, serving both the Ahern and Goss governments.
The son of a Lutheran Minister, Erik Finger was born in Boonah in in 1938 and completed his primary schooling in nearby Kalbar before boarding at St Peter’s Lutheran College in Indooroopilly for his secondary education. He subsequently studied engineering at the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales, and after graduating in 1961 was employed by the Queensland Department of Main Roads.
Finger remained with Main Roads for 27 years, and during this time rose through the ranks to be appointed Commissioner for Main Roads in 1982, a position he held for six years. In 1988, the Head of the Premiers Department in the Ahern Government became vacant, and in one of the first merit-based selection processes in the long history of the National Party administration, Finger applied for, and was appointed to, the role.
As a merit appointment, Finger was one of the few senior public servants to keep his position when the Labor Party ousted the Nationals the following year, and he remained Head of the Premier’s Department under Wayne Goss until his retirement from the public service in 1994. In this role he sometimes clashed with Kevin Rudd, head of the Cabinet Office. Finger was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1995.
Copyright ©Centre for the Government of Queensland, the University of Queensland, 2011.
The copyright holder of this material grants users permission to access the material on this website for the following purposes only: research and study, education, other non-commercial and non-public uses.