Movers & shakers: new chief at NSW local government agency

By Shannon Jenkins

June 4, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Band 1

Kathryn Elliott has been appointed as branch manager, CDP Strategy Branch at the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

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

NSW Office of Local Government

Kiersten Fishburn has been appointed as chief executive of the New South Wales Office of Local Government.

Kiersten Fishburn

She was most recently coordinator general, Planning Delivery Unit at the state Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). Prior to that, she was CEO of Liverpool City Council.

In a statement released by Local Government NSW, DPIE secretary Jim Betts said Fishburn would combine the local government portfolio with her management of planning delivery.

Fishburn replaces Tim Hurst, who came under fire last year over his role in administering a state government grant program for councils. Of the $252 million allocated during the second round of the grant program, 95% were found to have gone to councils in coalition-held or marginal electorates.

An inquiry into the program also heard that one of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s staff had shredded documents that had shown the premier had played a role in approving the grants.

Staff were reportedly told that Hurst would be ‘pursuing further career opportunities’ last month.

Read more: NSW government slammed for using grants to pork-barrel and ‘punish’

EPA Victoria

Professor Mark Patrick Taylor has been appointed as Victoria’s new chief environmental scientist.

He replaces Andrea Hinwood, who has taken up the role of chief scientist of the UN Environment Programme.

Mark Patrick Taylor

Commencing in the role in late July, Taylor will provide expert advice to the state Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) leadership team, while ensuring science underpins the entity’s regulatory function. He will also advise senior decision makers such as the environment minister and the chief health officer.

EPA governing board chair Professor Kate Auty noted that Taylor was a strong advocate for environmental health.

“He was a leading advocate for the lowering of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s national blood lead intervention level and has supported thousands of Australians in understanding and addressing trace metal exposure risks in their homes and gardens via his citizen science programs,” she said.

“His work regarding the management of contaminated sites with a focus on the management of PFAS (perfluorinated chemicals) will ensure EPA Victoria remains at the forefront of emerging contaminant science.”

Taylor said he was excited to support the Victorian community in attaining better human and environmental health outcomes.

“My life’s work has been focused on the prevention of harm to the community by reducing environmental health risks,” he said.

“The commencement of the General Environmental Duty and the new prevention-based legislation in Victoria is a huge step in the right direction and I am looking forward to contributing to this progressive change.”


Julieanne Alroe and Kee Wong have been appointed to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) board as independent directors.

Julieanne Alroe

Alroe is a professional director, chair and senior executive, as well as an Australian aviation industry leader with more than 40 years’ experience. She is the current chair of Infrastructure Australia and the Queensland Ballet.

Wong is an entrepreneur, investor, advisor and non-executive director with qualifications in engineering, information technology and business. He has been an adviser to the Victorian government in the past, and is currently a member of the state government’s Ministerial Advisory Council on International Education, Ministerial Innovation Taskforce and Transform Reform Board (Victorian Department of Transport).

AEMO chair Drew Clarke said the members were of ‘high calibre’.

“The experience and skills of these two respected business leaders will complement the depth and diversity of knowledge on the board as AEMO works to enable and support the energy transition in the interests of Australian consumers,” he said.


Former finance minister Mathias Cormann has officially commenced as the sixth secretary-general of the OECD.

Mathias Cormann

Ministers and senior officials of the organisation’s 38 member countries and outgoing secretary-general Angel Gurría have this week welcomed Cormann in a handover ceremony at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Cormann said he was ‘deeply honoured and humbled’ by the appointment, which was announced in March.

“I am ambitious for the OECD and what it can achieve with members, for members, and most importantly, for the people in member countries. You can count on me to give it my absolute best as we work towards a better future, together,” he said.

Cormann has been appointed for a five-year term. He was the federal finance minister from 2013-2020, and was leader of the government in the Senate from 2017-2020.

Earlier this year the leaders of dozens of Australian and international organisations, including Greenpeace and Oxfam Australia, signed a letter calling on OECD member countries to reject Cormann as a candidate for the top job, due to his ‘public record of participation in thwarting effective climate action’.

Meanwhile, AFR Street Talk columnist Tim Boyd has reportedly taken on a role in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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