home       biography       publications       speeches       organisations       images       @contact

Celebrating the Australian National Internships Program

Opening Remarks to Australian National Internships Program 25th Anniversary Celebration, ANU House, Melbourne, 28 March 2018

As ANU Chancellor, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to ANU’s home in Melbourne. I acknowledge and celebrate the first Australians on whose traditional lands we meet, and pay respects to the elders of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation past and present.

This is the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of ANIP, the Australian National Internships Program, and we are proud to kick off the national celebrations here in Melbourne. The program was established in 1993 by Professor John Power, whom we are delighted to have here with us tonight, to enable university students from Canberra, Australia and the rest of the world to undertake internships with leading national institutions in our nation’s capital.

Over its proud 25 year history, nearly 2,000 students, 1,836 to be exact, have undertaken the ANIP program – around 1,000 of them ANU students, with the rest drawn from other interstate and overseas universities. And over that period there have been an extraordinary 507 different hosts – parliamentarians from all sides of politics, government departments and agencies, diplomatic missions and peak industry bodies, think-tanks and other major non-governmental organizations.

As you all know – and the former interns here will no doubt bask in being reminded – interns are selected based on outstanding academic performance, research skills and public engagement commitment, making ANIP not just another internship program, but one of the world’s most highly regarded.

During their semester placements, for thirteen weeks or so, ANIP interns complete a significant piece of research on a long term policy topic with their host institution, earn course-credit, have an unparalleled workplace experience and, for the non-Canberra natives, the experience of living and working in our nation’s capital. What makes the program really unique is not just the quality of the participants, but the way in which the research conducted by interns makes a significant contribution to public policy making.

Research reports written by ANIP interns have been used in debates in the Parliament of Australia, the International Court of Justice, diplomatic discussions, policy briefings and published in leading academic journals. We are very proud of the contribution ANIP makes to public policy and research of our nation and capital: the program is one of the finest assets of Australia’s finest university.

The founding agreement for ANIP in 1993 was between ANU and the Parliament of Australia’s Presiding Officers, and placements with Commonwealth Parliamentarians have been the spine of the program ever since, with 1,024 interns placed there over the last 25 years, including in the offices of every Prime Minister since John Howard.

But it has broadened out to include initially the ACT Legislative Assembly and public sector, and then a number of other Commonwealth entities (with 371 placements in total), since 2003 a number of embassies and other diplomatic missions (with 96 interns placed there over the last fifteen years) as well as a variety of non-government bodies. Our exceptionally close association with DFAT has resulted in interns taking on research topics with an international focus.

Under the very active leadership of ANIP’s current Director Laurence Brown, who has been in the role just 18 months, 2017 represented a significant increase in the program due to demand from hosts and new university initiatives, with 150 students completing the program. Our hosts have also greatly expanded in 2017, with either new hosts coming forward or established ones increasing their intake: we have had more legislators from all major parties, minor parties and independents; more placements in Embassies, High Commissions and foreign delegations including Argentina, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Ecuador, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Timor-Leste, the US, Indonesia and Palestine; more host invitations from government departments and agencies such as DFAT, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Education and Training, Australian Institute of Criminology and Sea Power Centre; and more from non-government bodies like the Australian Conversation Foundation, United Nations Association of Australia, and Centre for International Economics.

Like everything at the ANU, what makes ANIP so special is the quality of our alumni community. Each and every one of you has made an important and significant contribution to the quality of this program. Some of our prominent ANIP alumni include Michael Kennan MP, Federal Minister for Human Services; Ben Morton MP, Federal Member for Tangney; Cong Peiwu, Director-General of Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, Chinese Foreign Ministry; and Brendan Nyhan, Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.

And here in Melbourne, our alumni community includes Alexandra Gartmann, CEO and Managing Director of Rural Bank; Jacinta Allan MP, Minister for Public Transport, Minister for Major Projects and Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly, Parliament of Victoria; Ben Rimmer, CEO of Melbourne City Council; and, not least, my own Executive Officer Jieh-Yung Lo, who is making his voice increasingly heard wider afield, importantly in the present rather fraught environment, as a prominent young member of the national Chinese-Australian community.

I am delighted that we have this opportunity to join you all in this important celebration and milestone. I want to acknowledge in particular the presence here of ANIP’s longest serving Director, from 2001 to 2011, Associate Professor Robert Campbell, but above all the program’s founder and first director, my old friend John Power – whose brainchild this Program was. John has many other strings to his academic bow, some of which he may or may not wish to acknowledge, like teaching both of the current presiding officers of the Parliament of Australia Scott Ryan and Tony Smith. But above all his legacy is to have built from the ground up one of the world’s most prestigious internship programs, one that has given previous and future students a practical pathway and opportunity to make a serious contribution to public policy making.

Congratulations to former Directors John Power and Robert Campbell and current Director Laurence Brown for your inspiring leadership over the years; and to all those who have worked so hard to bring this celebration together – including Laurence, Jieh-Yung and Christina Rose. And thanks to all the former interns in the room who have been able to join us tonight, whose quality and credibility have done so much to win the continuing support of our army of hosts. Please join with me as I propose a toast to the success of ANIP in its first 25 years – and the next!