The New South Wales government is on the hunt for a new secretary to head its transport agency in 2021.
Transport minister Andrew Constance on Wednesday announced that Rodd Staples would be leaving his role as chief of Transport for NSW in February.
The resignation has come shortly after Constance referred a $53.5 land purchase made by Transport for NSW in 2016 to the auditor-general and the state corruption watchdog. Staples was not in charge of the agency at the time of the purchase, having only served in the role for three years.
Constance said the agency would be moving in a new direction in 2021, with a greater focus on technology and innovation.
“Rodd has had an important role over the past three years, stewarding the NSW government’s $50+ billion transport capital works program — the largest of any government agency in Australia,” he said.
“Rodd has seen the agency through the toughest of days, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the summer’s bushfires, but now is the time for a new focus on delivering our record infrastructure program and innovation as NSW emerges from recession.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Staples told staff of the shock decision in an email on Wednesday afternoon.
“Transport is in my blood and is part of my family’s story, with my grandfather helping to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now almost 100 years later, I’ve had the privilege of being part of this great organisation for over 15 years,” he wrote.
Prior to his role as secretary, Staples spent almost two decades as an engineer, and has held numerous public sector roles including as chief executive of Sydney Metro.
Regional transport minister Paul Toole thanked Staples for delivering better transport outcomes for the people of NSW.
“Rodd recognises that every community is unique and the importance of projects and programs delivering on the specific needs of the communities they serve,” he said.
“He’s driven structural change to Transport that’s put a stronger focus on the regions and cultural change that’s ensured projects are more than just about building infrastructure – they’re about connecting people and creating opportunity.”
The NSW government will launch a local and international search for a new secretary, with a successful candidate to be appointed in early 2021.