Movers & shakers: eight assistant secretaries, electoral commissioner reappointed

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday August 23, 2019

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Late update: Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has been reappointed for another five years starting from December 15.

“He came to the role with extensive experience in planning for and managing elections,” said Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. “Under his leadership the Australian Electoral Commission has implemented significant electoral reforms and delivered two smooth-running Federal Elections in 2016 and 2019. Mr Rogers’ reappointment will ensure continued organisational stability for the Australian Electoral Commission over the period to the end of 2024.”

Commonwealth senior executive appointments

Band 1

Emma Cotterill

The Attorney-General’s Department has promoted Emma Cotterill to Senior Assistant Ombudsman in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office. She held the role of Director of the Ombudsman’s Disability team since 2005, and joined the office in 2004. Meanwhile, Steven Burggraaff has been named the department’s Chief Financial Officer for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Department of Home Affairs has appointed three new Assistant Secretaries. Joseph Feld has obtained the role in the Regional Processing and Resettlement Contracts division, with Alice Stanley in the Traveller Branch.

David Brightling

David Brightling has moved over from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to be Assistant Secretary in the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Branch. He has also worked in the Attorney-General’s Department and has served as a diplomat in Washington DC. Samantha Patuto has also joined Home Affairs in the role of Regional Director, Western Australia.

Gemma Preston has been appointed Principal Adviser in the Department of the Treasury.

There are three new appointments in the Department of Human Services. Anita-Lee Summers has been named National Manager for Central Queensland, while Denise Craig is the National Manager for Smart Centres Central and West. Elise Poiner has taken the role of General Counsel.

Over in the Department of Social Services, Katrina Jocumsen has been appointed to Branch Manager, People Services, Executive.

Andrew Staines has been named First Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Contracting in the Department of Defence. He was formerly Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Businesses.

The Department of the Environment and Energy has three new Assistant Secretaries. Ilse Kiessling has taken the position after working as Director of Wildlife Trade Regulation, while Travis Bover moved up from Director of Budget Strategy. Tim Wyndham, formerly Director at Australian Energy Security, also obtained the role.

Magistrates Court WA

Lynette Dias, Martin Crawford, Erin O’Donnell and Linda Keane have been named magistrates of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.

The new magistrates are all highly regarded in the legal profession and will bring a wealth of experience to their roles, according to Attorney-General John Quigley.

Dias was admitted to practice in WA in 1997 and has appeared as counsel in a variety of jurisdictions and roles at the State Solicitor’s Office, Legal Aid WA, WA Police and with the Northern Territory Department of Justice.

Martin Crawford

Crawford was admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor in Australia in 2003, after migrating from Zimbabwe. Also that year, he joined Arns & Associates. He has appeared as counsel at the Magistrates Court many times.

O’Donnell began practising in 2003, and worked in criminal law at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in senior roles between 2005 and 2018. She commenced as Assistant State Counsel at the State Solicitor’s Office earlier this year, where she undertook a mix of counsel and advisory work in the litigation team.

Keane began practice in WA in 2003. Between 2002 and 2004, she was an articled clerk and then State Prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Keane was appointed as a Senior State Prosecutor in 2018, and has taken on several serious criminal matters.

Australian Energy Market Commission

Kate Degen

Kate Degen has joined the AEMC as a Senior Adviser, coming from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. She previously worked at the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, the former NSW Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability, and for the NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities.

Declan Kelly, one of AEMC’s first graduates, has been promoted to Senior Adviser, while 2018 graduate Orrie Johan is now an Adviser.

The AEMC reports to COAG and is one of three market bodies responsible for energy in Australia.

Victorian energy

Sitesh Bhojani has been appointed to the board of the Essential Services Commission, joining Kate Symons and Simon Corden.

Bhojani has previously worked as a legal practitioner and in commissioner roles, including such at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Trade Practices Commission.

Bhojani will help the ESC set and enforce billing and marketing practices to promote fairer contract terms. His position was announced as part of the Victorian government’s Energy Fairness Plan, which gives the commission investigatory powers to monitor and report on the state’s retail energy market and crack down on retailer misconduct.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said Bhojani is an “energy cop” who will “crack down on retailers who do the wrong thing”.

The government is also seeking a new full-time commission chairperson, with Symons acting in the role.

Experts appointed to decriminalise drunkenness

The Andrews Government plans to establish an Expert Reference Group to provide advice about the decriminalisation of public drunkenness in Victoria and the development of a health-based response.

Nerita Waight

The group will consist of Helen Kennedy, Chief Operating Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation; Tony Nicholson, former Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence; Jack Blayney, former Assistant Commissioner and Chief Information Officer of Victoria Police; and Nerita Waight, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

The group will provide advice in consultation with the Aboriginal community, health services, alcohol and other drugs experts, local government and operators of licensed premises. It will work with the government and Victoria Police to ensure police can maintain community safety and help drunk people at risk of harm.

Victorian Multicultural Commission

Vivienne Nguyen

Vivienne Nguyen has been appointed Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, starting the four-year term on 26 August 2019.

Nguyen has more than 25 years experience in the corporate, community and public sectors. She was a Victorian Multicultural Commissioner from 2005 to 2008, and has a background in promoting the social, cultural and economic benefits of multiculturalism.

Nguyen has also served as president of the Vietnamese Community of Australia’s Victorian Chapter and worked with a range of other culturally and religiously diverse communities. She has helped local African communities engage with state and local governments, and worked with organisations and community members to support the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

As Chair, Nguyen will ensure the commission addresses issues faced by diverse groups, will encourage communities to express and preserve their heritage and advise the minister on community issues. The commission promotes the social, cultural and economic benefits of cultural diversity, oversees a network of Regional Advisory Councils, and delivers the state’s Cultural Diversity Week.

Tassie’s local businesses

In partnership with AusTrade and the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bede Clifton has been appointed as the northern-based TradeStart adviser. He will work closely with Sally Chandler, who has been providing trade advice across Tasmania for more than 15 years.

The TradeStart advisers will help local enterprises develop their export skills and increase trade.


Ryan Winn

The Australian Council of Learned Academies has appointed Ryan Winn as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Ryan has held various executive roles across the federal government over the last decade, including in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and most recently the Department of Education.

He has worked closely with all levels of government, academic and industry stakeholders to prioritise and scope the research infrastructure critical to enabling world-class research in Australia.

Ryan’s policy experience ranges from higher education, research and innovation systems, to early childhood, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and remote service delivery, domestic and family violence, family payments, the use of data, research careers and emerging technologies.

Professor Hugh Bradlow, Chair of the ACOLA board, welcomed the appointment.

“Ryan’s strong background in government will be a valuable asset for ACOLA in helping us future enhance our engagement with Australian governments, both federal and state, and I look forward to working with him to strengthen ACOLA’s contribution to Australia and the world’s big challenges,” Bradlow said.

Infrastructure Commission NZ

The inaugural board of the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission has been appointed and is expected to start work by October.

The commission will develop a long-term infrastructure plan and pipeline, with a focus on helping governments make decisions to improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

Former NZ Reserve Bank governor Dr Alan Bollard will chair the board. He is a Professor of Practice at Victoria University of Wellington, and has extensive experience as a senior public servant. He has previously served as the Executive Director of NZ’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, and Secretary of the NZ Treasury.

Jon Grayson, currently Deputy Secretary for matters commercial and financial at the NZ Treasury, has been named Chief Executive. He has a background in capital markets and major infrastructure investment management and has held senior executive roles within the public and private sectors.

The other board members are: David Cochrane, Special Counsel at Simpson Grierson; Raveen Jaduram, Chief Executive of Watercare Services Limited and former Managing Director of Australian water company Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited; Sarah Sinclair, member of the Expert Review Panel for the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission; Stephen Selwood, Chief Executive of Infrastructure New Zealand; and Sue Tindal, experienced banker and Chief Financial Officer.

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