Movers & shakers: DFAT names six new first assistant secretaries

By Shannon Jenkins

April 17, 2020

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

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Michelle Chan

Michelle Chan has been promoted to deputy secretary in the Office of National Intelligence. She has held various senior positions within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including the prime minister’s senior international advisor, and ambassador roles.

Jeremy Hirschhorn has been appointed as a second commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office. He has been acting in the role of since December 2018. Hirschhorn has previously held the position of deputy commissioner for public groups at the ATO from 2015 to 2018, and was the ATO’s chief tax counsel from 2014 to 2015. He has been working closely with the government in the implementation of the COVID-19 measures the ATO is responsible for administering. Prior to joining the ATO, Hirschhorn spent almost 20 years at KPMG.

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Minoli Perera, Paul Myler, Rodney Hilton, Gary Cowan, Helen Stylianou and Lyndall Sachs have all been named first assistant secretaries with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Helen Stylianou

Jason Stott has been appointed chief operating officer of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission. He worked at the former Department of Human Services for more than 15 years before joining the NDIS in 2018.

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David Stevens has been engaged by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in the role of assistant commissioner dispute resolution, investigations and review.

Dr Boris Kelly-Gerreyn

The Bureau of Meteorology has appointed three new general managers. Anthony Leggett has taken the role in national production services, Jeff Perkins is general manager, environmental prediction services, and Boris Kelly-Gerreyn has been named general manager, data.

Over in the Australian Taxation Office, Rebecca McGirr has been appointed assistant commissioner, engagement and assurance, Brisbane, while Kate Wilson has been named assistant commissioner, finance service delivery.

From Cardinal to Carnival

Bret Walker

Barrister Bret Walker will lead a special commission of inquiry into the events surrounding the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

The appointment was made just days after Walker successfully appealed against George Pell’s conviction in the High Court.

As the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported, Walker has also represented former prime minister Kevin Rudd in the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program, was appointed by the Gillard government as Australia’s first Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, and, in 2017, defended then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce amid dual citizenship claims.

In the role of special commissioner, Walker will have the “extraordinary powers” to examine all matters involving the cruise ship, including its departure and arrival, and the actions of all agencies and parties involved, according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“As I have said before, we will leave no stone unturned until we find out exactly what happened,” she said.

“Discussions with the police commissioner and the state coroner have made clear to me their expected investigation timelines, and I have decided that the quickest path to answers is through a powerful and independent inquiry.”

Walker will report back to the government in three to four months. Police and the state coroner will continue their respective investigations.

Australian Business Growth Fund

Will Hodgman

Former Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has been named the inaugural chair of the $540m Australian Business Growth Fund (BGF).

The federal government is committing $100m in funding to establish the BGF and partnering with other financial institutions to provide equity funding to small and medium-sized businesses. The major banks ANZ, CBA, NAB, and Westpac will each commit $100m to the BGF. HSBC and Macquarie Group will contribute $20m each.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Hodgman’s experience makes him the ideal candidate to lead the BGF, which would “play an important role in supporting the recovery and investing in Australian businesses to create jobs and increase productivity”.

ACT work safety commissioner

Greg Jones

Work safety commissioner Greg Jones has announced his retirement from the ACT Public Service.

Jones held a number of senior leadership positions in the ACTPS, including head of the former Casino Surveillance Authority, and chief executive officer of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission. He has a total 40 years’ service.

The ACT government will announce Jones’ replacement in the coming weeks.

Jones said it has been a challenge and a pleasure to serve as ACT’s work safety commissioner over the past four years.

“I’m proud of the ongoing focus of government on industrial work, health and safety and the enhanced awareness of employers of their responsibilities through the Work Health and Safety Act,” he said.

“As a result of our active engagement with all stakeholders and our enforcement activities, more workers returned home safely, and I am pleased to have led this important work … I’m also delighted that more employers are now focusing on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace as well as on the more traditional physical health.

“I would like to pass on my appreciation to my dedicated team over the years who have worked tirelessly to: prevent work health and safety incidents; to educate employers and workers; to hold employers and workers to account through WHS Legislation; and to provide support to all parties if incidents occurred. I’d also like to thank industry representatives and unions for their support.”

NSW contributions reform

Peter Achterstraat

As part of its plans to reform developer levies and contributions, the NSW government has appointed productivity commissioner Peter Achterstraat to undertake a review of the current contributions and provide recommendations for a new system by the end of the year.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet welcomed the appointment. He said the overhaul of the system would help boost the NSW economy at a critical time.

“We are facing unprecedented health and economic challenges at the moment, and we need to ensure we best position NSW to rebound,” he said.

“This is a great opportunity to undertake reform which will help boost investment and create jobs and enhance prosperity for the state.”

Victims of Crime Consultative Committee

Jennifer Coate

Former commissioner of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Jennifer Coate has been named the new chair of the Victims of Crime Consultative Committee.

With a legal career spanning 35 years across five court jurisdictions, Coate has a deep understanding of the legal system and its impact on victims of crime. Throughout her career, she has volunteered and contributed to a range of legal causes and reforms, including sexual assault, family violence, youth justice and children’s rights.

Coate will begin her new role from April 17, following replacing Supreme Court Justice Bernard Teague, who has served as chair of the committee since 2015.

The committee brings together victim representatives, the Victims of Crime Commissioner, Victoria Police, the Office of Public Prosecutions, the judiciary, the Adult Parole Board, and victim service agencies.

WA recovery controller for COVID-19

Sharyn O’Neill

Western Australia’s public sector commissioner Sharyn O’Neill has been appointed as the state’s recovery controller for the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Neill will lead the state’s efforts recovering from the virus. She will report to the minister for emergency services Fran Logan and Premier Mark McGowan.

McGowan said O’Neill has significant experience in leading large-scale reform and has played an “integral role” in National Cabinet. He noted it was the first time in WA’s history someone had been appointed to the role.

“Ms O’Neill is well positioned to take on the critical role of state recovery controller and to lead the state through the challenges that are ahead of us,” he said.

O’Neill was appointed as public sector commissioner in 2018 following 12 years as director general of the Department of Education. She was the first woman to undertake the role.

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