Public service chief Lloyd attacks unions

Matt Coughlan
Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has taken aim at the ACTU in his final speech

One of Australia's top bureaucrats has fired a parting shot at unions, warning Labor's plan to abolish the construction watchdog would be seriously retrograde.

Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd quit in June after scrutiny over his links to right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

In his final speech in the job, Mr Lloyd took aim at the Australian Council of Trade Unions' push to overhaul workplace laws, saying the system was already was too regulated and inflexible.

"There is a risk this will be only amplified if the ACTU agenda of more and deep regulation gains traction," he said on Monday night.

"In that case I think employment prospects for Australia would be damaged."

Speaking at the Institute of Public Administration Australia, Mr Lloyd joked he might make Labor Senate leader Penny Wong unhappy if he dropped the second 'A' in the acronym, a reference to his IPA links.

He said the investigation into whether he breached the public service code of conduct over his ties to his former employer, the IPA, was "most unsatisfactory".

Mr Lloyd also targeted a deluge of "do-gooders" telling people how to live their lives.

"Virtue signalling is rampant in some quarters and this concerns me," he said.

"I think there's a danger the diversity of views and opinions that go to good policy advice could be stifled by a pervasive groupthink dictated by what is politically correct."

He reflected on his time as head of the Australian Building and Consumer Commission, labelling the industry corrupt and ruthless when he took the job in 2005.

"I learnt of the shocking exposures and treatment at the hands of the unions and the head contractors," Mr Lloyd said.

"I believe it would be a seriously retrograde step to abolish the ABCC."

The departing public service commissioner reserved special praise for former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett.

"In my view the Kennett government was the best organised and most reformist government I've worked for," Mr Lloyd said.

He said the job as commissioner, which ends on Wednesday, would likely be his last full-time role.