Predictable and safe public administration met provocative and contested Indigenous voices in Sydney this week -- nerves of steel were highly recommended.

Try this: “I don’t care if you’re racist,” declared one Indigenous professor invited by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) to an event jointly hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Yes, I heard the sudden intake of air in the room. Public servants don’t need to be true believers, or graduates of cultural competency training, Professor Steven Larkin explained, as long as they’re doing their jobs competently from nine to five.