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Movers & shakers: state department secretary cleared of code breach over relationship

Following up on earlier stories in the Mandarin: what happened to the PM&C deputy secretary who vanished from the organisation chart? And what about the Tasmanian departmental boss whose minister stepped down over their personal relationship?

Dept head cleared over relationship with minister

A review following the revelation that Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney had started a relationship with the head of her department, Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Secretary John Whittington, has cleared Whittington of breaching the code of conduct under the State Services Act.

The secretary will now return to his role.

Courtney, on the other hand, was found to have committed a “minor” breach of the ministerial code of conduct by disclosing the relationship a month after she should have. She has been counselled by the premier, who says she “made an error of judgement”. Courtney accepts that while no conflict of interest arose, there was potential for a perception of conflict of interest.

However, the reviews conducted by DPAC Secretary Jenny Gale, and former public servant Damian Bugg QC found that there was no inappropriate decision making by Courtney and that all official duties, decisions and actions of the minister followed appropriate protocols and procedures.

Courtney has been removed from her former portfolio and instead been sworn in as Minister for Resources and Minister for Building and Construction.

Guy Barnett is to replace her as Primary Industries Minister, and Elise Archer will take on the racing portfolio.

What Allan McKinnon did next

Two weeks ago we noted Allan McKinnon had left his role as Deputy Secretary, National Security at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as part of a broader national security shakeup.

Now we know where he’s off to, with the government announcing this week McKinnon has been appointed Ambassador to Thailand. He takes over from Paul Robilliard, who has held the position since 2014.

McKinnon has previously served overseas as deputy head of mission and counsellor at the embassy in Tokyo.

Senior executive service promotions

Among the Band 2 promotions…

Adrian D’Amico has been appointed Head Defence Legal, moving up from Assistant Secretary Defence General Counsel. Before that job he spent 23 years working in law in the private sector.

Andrea Pavleka is now Deputy Director at the Director of Public Prosecutions in Sydney, moving up from Assistant Director.

Among the Band 1 promotions…

Emily Grant is now Assistant Secretary at the Department of Home Affairs. Before that she was Director of the Office of Water Science at the Department of the Environment and Energy, and has held various other positions in Environment and PM&C.

Esther Bogaart is moving to the job of Assistant Secretary, Office for Women and Indigenous Affairs Group at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Before this she was Acting Assistant Secretary of the Family Safety Branch at the Attorney General’s Department, which is responsible for improving how the federal family law system interacts with the state and territory child protection and family violence systems

Michael Webb takes up the role of Chief Information Officer at Treasury. Before this he was CIO at the National Museum, and has held other IT roles at Industry and the Australian Sports Commission.

Tim Luxton is moving to National Judicial Registrar and District Registrar at the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne. He was previously Deputy District Registrar.

Also one new Band 1 external hire…

Jodie Chamberlain has been appointed Branch Manager — Assurance Coordination at the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

See the last movers and shakers update here.

Author Bio

The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.