Senior SA public servants step down

By Shannon Jenkins

March 10, 2020

people coming in and out of a revolving door
Out with some, in with others. (bluraz/Adobe)

Two senior mandarins in South Australia have stepped down from their roles, adding to the string of executives who have left their jobs under Premier Steven Marshall’s government.

On Friday it was revealed the Department of Human Services chief executive Tony Harrison and Primary Industries and Regions SA chief executive Scott Ashby would be leaving their positions.

Harrison’s contract has not yet expired. His job will be temporarily filled by the current chief executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Jim McDowell.

Prior to moving to DHS in 2016, Harrison served as chief executive of the Department for Education and Child Development, and director-general of Community Safety. He also headed the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission, and was an assistant commissioner for SA Police.

Ashby has also departed his top job, which he held for seven years. Marshall said he would be replaced by Michelle Edge, who has held senior government roles in Victoria at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Primary Industries.

“Mrs Edge is an experienced and accomplished chief executive with more than 15 years of experience in Agriculture and Primary Industries,” the premier said in a statement.

Ashby’s position was advertised on Seek.com in December, despite his contract expiring in April.

The departures follow the sackings of four chief executives in 2018, during Marshall’s first week in office. They included the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Don Russell, Attorney-General’s Department boss Ingrid Haythorpe, Michael Deegan from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, and Sandy Pitcher from the Environment department.

“We don’t envisage any other terminations of chief executives in the immediate future,” Marshall said at the time.


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SA Health boss Vickie Kaminski also left her role shortly after the 2018 dismissals. She was replaced by Chris McGowan, who was recently investigated over conflicts of interest but remains in the job.

Last year, Veterans SA director Rob Manton was unsuccessful in reapplying for his job, Mike Hnyda from Trade, Tourism and Investment retired early, and the contract of Renewal SA chief John Hanlon was not renewed after 10 months on leave.


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