Movers & shakers: Scott Morrison’s former chief of staff named COO at Department of Health

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday February 26, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Band 3

Charles Wann

Charles Wann has been appointed chief operating officer at the Department of Health. He was previously acting in the role. Past roles include leading the Aged Care Reform and Compliance Division, first assistant secretary of the financial management division, and chief of staff to then-social services minister Scott Morrison.

Band 2

Gabrielle Vivian-Smith has been named Australian chief plant protection officer at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. She was previously assistant secretary, plant science and risk assessment.

Band 1

Gabrielle Vivian-Smith

The Department of Defence has appointed Candice Meszes, Colin McKenna and Sally-Anne Bulkeley to Band 1 roles.

Lisa Collett has been named senior assistant ombudsman at the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Lisa Kearney has been appointed national manager at Services Australia.

Cassandra Ireland has taken on the role of executive secretariat director at the Agriculture department.

James Robinson has been appointed assistant secretary at the Department of Home Affairs.

At the Department of Social Services, Mike Websdane has been named branch manager, cashless welfare engagement and support services.

Do you know a senior public servant who has recently taken on a new role? Email [email protected] to let us know.

New job for Finkel

Alan Finkel

Dr Alan Finkel has been appointed as special advisor to the Australian government on Low Emissions Technology.

In a statement released this week, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources said Finkel assumed the role in January at the end of his term as Australia’s chief scientist — a position he has held since 2016.

As special advisor, Finkel will “spearhead the Australian government’s efforts to accelerate development and commercialisation of the next generation of low emissions technologies”, the department said.

“Dr Finkel will drive this work through his role as the chair of the Technology Investment Advisory Council, and through building international relationships and partnerships to expand practical collaboration on Australia’s priority low emissions technologies.”

Crown royal commission

Raymond Finkelstein

The Victorian government has appointed Raymond Finkelstein as commissioner and chair of the royal commission into Crown Melbourne.

Finkelstein has served more than 40 years at the Victorian Bar and has been a Queen’s Counsel since 1986. He was appointed a judge of the Federal Court in 1997, and retired as a judge of the Federal Court and President of the Competition Tribunal in 2011 before returning to private practice at the Victorian Bar.

In his new role, he will assess Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold its Victorian casino licence, as well as the suitability of its associates. He will hand down his recommendations by August.


Craig Colvin

The Australian Law Reform Commission has appointed Justice Craig Colvin as part-time commissioner for the review of the legislative framework for corporations and financial services regulation. The inquiry is part of the government’s response to the banking royal commission.

A Perth-based Federal Court Judge, Colvin has extensive experience in commercial and civil disputes, particularly in the areas of economic regulation.

ALRC president Justice Sarah Derrington said the appointment would bring additional expertise to the Financial Service Legislation Inquiry.

“As part-time Commissioner, Justice Colvin will oversee the ALRC’s examination of the complexity of financial services laws, and recommendations for improved clarity and transparency,” she said.

“The review of financial services legislation provides a timely opportunity to ensure Australian laws are fit for purpose – effectively balancing consumer protection with support for a vibrant and innovative financial services sector.”

Vic International Education Body

John Brumby

Former Victorian Premier John Brumby has been named chair of the state’s International Education Advisory Council.

Brumby is chancellor of La Trobe University and chair of the Advisory Board for the University of Melbourne School of Government. In his new role, he will provide independent advice on issues relating to Victoria’s international education sector.

Trade minister Martin Pakula has thanked outgoing chair Jane den Hollander and welcomed Brumby.

“John’s qualities are well known to the Victorian community and his understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for international education providers will be invaluable,” he said.

Brumby said he looked forward to working with the state government and education providers on the best ways of supporting and maintaining international education through the COVID era.

“International education enriches our society, supports the funding of university research and brings real diversity to the student population. It is Victoria’s largest export earner and a huge driver of jobs,” he said.

Queensland taskforce into coercive control

Margaret McMurdo

The Palaszczuk government has appointed Margaret McMurdo as chair of an independent taskforce charged with examining coercive control.

She was formerly president of the Queensland Court of Appeal, and a Judge of the District Court of Queensland. In her new role, she will recommend how best to legislate against coercive control as a form of domestic and family violence.

Attorney-general Shannon Fentiman said a range of survivors, domestic and sexual violence service providers, legal and domestic violence experts and the community would be consulted on the issue, including Hannah Clarke’s parents.

There will also be a focus on training first responders and domestic and family violence case workers to recognise and respond to coercive control, as well as developing a community awareness campaign.

National Competition Council

Katrina Groshinski

Michael Borsky and Katrina Groshinski have been named part‑time councillors of the National Competition Council, each for a three-year period.

Borsky was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel at the Victorian Bar in 2016 and has practised as a barrister since 2005, with a specialty in competition law and litigation. Meanwhile, Groshinski specialises in competition and regulatory law and has been a partner at Minter Ellison since 2010. She was previously a partner and associate at Clayton Utz from 2003.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the appointments would ensure the council “continues to have a high level of skill and experience to call on in fulfilling its role in relation to the regulation of third-party access to monopoly infrastructure services including those related to railways, ports and aviation”.

Vic Wildlife Act review

Dr Deborah Peterson

Dr Deborah Peterson, visiting fellow of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, has been appointed as chair of an independent expert advisory panel tasked with reviewing the Victorian Wildlife Act.

Peterson is an eminent agricultural and natural resource economist, and has extensive experience working in both the private and public sector.

She will be joined by panel members, including:

  • Ngaio Beausoleil, Massey University’s co-director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre and an expert in wildlife welfare and ethics,
  • Jack Pascoe, a Yuin man living in Gadabanut country who has extensive experience working with Traditional Owners and an expert in ecological research and conservation land management,
  • Monash University’s Arie Freiberg, who has extensive experience and expertise in regulatory reform.

The panel will engage with the Victorian community about what changes to the act are necessary to establish a modern, best-practice wildlife regulatory framework, and will look at how the act benchmarks against wildlife legislation in other jurisdictions.

The state government said it would be the most comprehensive review of the act since its introduction more than 45 years ago. The panel will report on its findings and recommendations by mid-2021.

Diplomats and rumours

Nick Greiner

As previously reported in The Mandarin, former New South Wales premier Nick Greiner has been appointed as Australia’s consul-general in New York, John Donnelly has been named Australia’s next high commissioner to Nigeria, and Roger Noble is Australia’s next ambassador for counter-terrorism.

Meanwhile, former small business minister Bruce Billson — who was censured in 2018 — is rumoured to be the next Small Business Ombudsman.

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