I began my PhD at the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU) in February 2021, after a 15 year career in the Australian Public Service. I spent a significant amount of time reading and responding to letters from members of the public, on behalf of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. I saw letters from pensioners, seeking changes to means testing arrangements; letters from parents unable to afford school supplies for their children; and letters from people wishing the Prime Minister good luck at the next election. I saw how Ministers and their offices engaged with these letters, how they informed policy development and perceptions of public opinion. This experience drives my research.
My PhD research examines who writes; why they write; and the impact of the letters on public policy and the political agenda. I am studying this by examining the letters of members of the public to Prime Minister Howard. This includes developing the first dataset of the volume and topic of letters to a Prime Minister, on a fortnightly basis, coded against the internationally-recognised Comparative Agendas Project topic list. Currently, this dataset covers from March 1996 (when Mr Howard was elected) to December 2000. This dataset allows for a much finer-grained analysis of public opinion than traditional annual datasets.
My main research interests include responsiveness of political elites to public opinion, political participation, public opinion, and how the political and public agenda is set. I also have research interests in freedom of information; archival research; and the structure of doctoral programmes and the training of doctoral candidates.
Prior to academia, I had an extensive career in the Australian Public Service, working across central agencies and social policy agencies. I worked on the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the rollout of digital TV. I have also worked for Members of Parliament and peak non-government organisations in the health sector.
To keep up with Daniel's research, follow him on Twitter (@DanielCasey_CBR).
“Punctuated equilibrium and the dynamics of political participation: the case of letter writing” Policy Studies (Accepted – forthcoming)
“An Isolating experience aggravated by COVID”: Disconnection between political science PhD candidates and supervisors in the wake of COVID-19 PS: Political Science and Politics (with Serrin Rutledge-Prior) (2023)
“Hard Work and You Can’t Get it: An International Comparative Analysis of Gender, Career Aspirations, and Preparedness Among Politics and International Relations PhD Students” PS: Political Science and Politics (Lead author, with Serrin Rutledge-Prior, Lisa Young, Jonathan Mally and Loleen Berdahl) (2023)
“Proudly ‘disinterested’ – A public administration career for social science PhD graduates.” In Non-Academic Careers for Quantitative Social Scientists: A Practical Guide to Maximizing Your Skills and Opportunities, edited by Natalie Jackson. Springer. (Lead author, with Mark Fletcher)(forthcoming)
“How letters to leaders can improve our understanding of public opinion” – ECPR The Loop, September 2022.
“Dear John…’: Letters from the Public to Prime Minister Howard – Policy Perspectives Series, John Howard Prime Ministerial Library (UNSW) (2022)
“Accessing Documents of Former Ministers – Plugging the Accountability Gap” Public Law Review 33: 91-96 (2022)
“Book Review: Dear Prime Minister: Letters to Robert Menzies 1949–1966. By Martyn Lyons (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2021), pp. vi+ 266. AU $39.99 (pb)”. Australian Journal of Politics and History 67: 533-534 (2022)
“Managing and sustaining the APS workforce: a graduate perspective” Public Administration Today 6: 35-36 (2006).
Responsiveness, Representation, Political participation, Letters to political executive, Agenda setting, Doctoral education