AusTrade veteran takes the reins at SA Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment

By Stephen Easton

Tuesday July 2, 2019

The South Australian government has appointed long-serving AusTrade commissioner Leonie Muldoon as head of its Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment.

Muldoon was previously senior trade and investment commissioner in Singapore and spent five years in similar roles in Japan. SA Premier Steven Marshall said this and her “wealth of experience in the trade and investment sectors throughout India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh” made her a good fit for the chief executive role.

Leonie Muldoon. Image: LinkedIn.

Marshall is confident this expertise will qualify her to lead the South Australian Growth Agenda, which came out of a March review of the state’s “international and interstate engagement” activities and agencies by New Zealand’s former Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, who also recently reviewed the vocational education and training system for the federal government.

The SA department’s role is all about encouraging growth of exports from the state, and attracting investment and visitors to come in the other direction.

“Ms Muldoon’s in-depth knowledge of export markets in Asia, which are a crucial pillar of our state’s economic growth, will be invaluable as we strive to further strengthen our export and investment opportunities into the future,” said the Premier.

“We have an ambitious agenda to grow local jobs and strengthen our economy, so much of which is done through our thriving trade and tourism sectors. Ms Muldoon’s experience and expertise in these areas – across the globe – will help us deliver growth, creating jobs and driving our economy as a whole.”

Muldoon is a lawyer who has previously been a Partner of the Mellesons Stephen Jacques banking and finance practice in Sydney and has held several private-sector leadership and chief executive roles in a range of sectors. She is also fluent in Japanese, according to her new employer in Adelaide.

Department of Premier and Cabinet chief Jim McDowell acted in the important economic role since March, when former department head Michael Hnyda retired and several other senior executives departed in what was later described as a “bureaucratic bloodbath” by SA news outlet InDaily.

The website reported in April that two senior executives had been escorted out of the building and others were told to come up with a “pitch to the chief executive” on why they should keep their jobs. McDowell confirmed that after taking over from Hnyda, who retired one day before the Joyce review came back, he decided “structural changes” were needed.

In March the Premier had said the government would “realign departmental structures and clarify the responsibilities of economic agencies” in his initial response to the review.

Marshall thanked Hnyda for his “dedicated service” and McDowell for handling the first stages of implementing the review’s recommendations.

“Mr Hnyda oversaw significant business investment in our state during his time as Chief Executive, and I again wish him all the best in his retirement,” the Premier said.

Top image: Adelaide / Douglas Barber

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