Movers & shakers: CSIRO names chief scientist

By Shannon Jenkins

June 18, 2021

Movers & Shakers
The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

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Lionel Riley

Lionel Riley has been appointed first assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

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Also at DAWE, Victoria Fischer and Thomas Black have been appointed as assistant secretaries.

The Department of the Treasury has gained four assistant secretaries: Nu Nu Win, Ineke Redmond, Yiyong Cai, and Mary Jeffries.

John David Brown and Louise Buchanan have been named as senior executive lawyers at the Australian Government Solicitor.

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


Professor Bronwyn Fox has been appointed as CSIRO’s chief scientist.

Bronwyn Fox

Fox has taken on the role almost 30 years after she began her career with CSIRO as a research assistant.

“It is wonderful to return to CSIRO as chief scientist after starting as a 22-year-old research assistant, and to be able to champion science research and capability, working with industry and fostering STEM careers,” she said.

“The depth of scientific research at CSIRO and its committed people are a unique and special national treasure and I look forward to taking up the role.”

Fox is currently deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at Swinburne University of Technology. A materials and engineering scientist, Fox was the founding director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.

She is also chair of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (Victorian Division), a fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall noted that Fox has experience in uniting researchers from across multiple scientific domains and institutions, leveraging digital science, and helping industry to translate brilliant ideas into real world solutions.

“Bronwyn exemplifies the CSIRO way – driven to deliver, brilliant but humble, leading by listening, and a generous collaborator,” he said.

Wage Inspectorate Victoria

Robert Hortle has been appointed as the inaugural commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria for a five-year term, ahead of the inspectorate officially becoming an independent statutory authority on July 1.

Hortle is an accomplished government executive with more than 20 years’ regulatory experience in the industrial relations field at state and federal levels. His past roles include senior executive and management positions at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Robert Hortle

He was most recently director of Wage Inspectorate Victoria within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. In that role, Hortle oversaw the rollout of compliance functions relating to owner driver and forestry contractor laws, new long service leave legislation, and the enforcement of Victoria’s child employment framework.

From July 1, under the Wage Theft Act 2020, it will be a crime for Victorian employers to deliberately underpay employees or dishonestly withhold employee entitlements. Hortle will lead Wage Inspectorate Victoria’s work to protect vulnerable employees from exploitation and hold employers to account if they commit wage theft.

Industrial relations minister Tim Pallas said Hortle’s regulatory experience would be ‘invaluable’ in his new role.

“Mr Hortle has championed progress and change within Wage Inspectorate Victoria, with a focus on ensuring that regulation contributes to fairer, safer and more cooperative workplaces,” he said.

“Our reforms and the work of the Wage Inspectorate will protect workers from unscrupulous employers. Mr Hortle’s leadership will ensure employers who do the wrong thing are held to account.”

Vic advisory panel for zero-emissions transport

The Victorian government has appointed an Expert Advisory Panel tasked with helping the state meet its target for half of all new light vehicle sales to be zero-emissions by 2030.

Peter Harris

The panel will be led by former Productivity Commission chair Peter Harris. Monique Conheady, Bruce Mountain, Natasha Santha and John Thwaites will join Harris, a former senior federal and state public servant, on the panel.

The appointees have ‘a broad range of skills and experience across the economics, procurement, energy and transport sectors’, the state government said. Reporting to the public transport and climate change ministers, they will advise the government on policies, programs and investments to ensure Victoria meets and exceeds its 2030 target, with a six-month program of research and analysis. The panel will deliver a final report in December.

Public transport and roads minister Ben Carroll said he was excited to see the panel ‘provide innovative ideas on how we can continue to make Victoria the home of zero-emissions travel’.

mRNA Victoria advisory group

The Victorian government has appointed nine global vaccine experts to mRNA Victoria’s new Scientific Advisory Group, where they will provide advice on mRNA manufacturing capability in the state for an initial two-year term.

Dr Amanda Caples

The group will be chaired by the Victorian government’s lead scientist Dr Amanda Caples. Group members include Dr Barney Graham, who played a key part in the creation of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and Melbourne-based infectious disease experts Professor Sharon Lewin and Professor Brendan Crabb.

mRNA Victoria will work with industry associations such as AusBiotech and BioMelbourne Network to establish a panel of industry experts and service providers to complement the expertise of the advisory group.

Innovation, medical research and digital economy minister Jaala Pulford said the ‘brilliant experts’ in the group would provide the state with an unparalleled understanding of mRNA.

“This body will ensure that Victoria is at the forefront of mRNA research and it’s fantastic to see Dr Graham join our mRNA program. His knowledge led to incredible vaccine development in the United States and will be invaluable,” she said.

The members of the group are:

  • Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s lead scientist, chair of the group
  • Professor Sharon Lewin, director, Doherty Institute
  • Dr Barney Graham, deputy director, Vaccine Research Center, US National Institutes of Health
  • Professor William Charman, Sir John Monash distinguished professor, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University
  • Professor Brendan Crabb, director, Burnet Institute
  • Professor Doug Hilton, director, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Professor Terry Nolan, head of infectious diseases, University of Melbourne
  • Professor John Carroll, director, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
  • Professor Andrew Steer, director of infection and immunity, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Ports Victoria Board

Former senior public servant Howard Ronaldson has been appointed to lead the board of Victoria’s new statewide ports body, Ports Victoria, which will begin operating on July 1.

The new entity brings together the Victorian Regional Channels Authority and Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) to lead the strategic management and operation of Victorian commercial ports and waterways. Its establishment is in response to findings from the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System.

Howard Ronaldson

Ronaldson is a former secretary of the state Department of Infrastructure and Department of Business and Innovation. He has also been an administrator with Ambulance Victoria. Most recently, he assessed the viability of the Port Rail Shuttle proposal for the Department of Transport.

“Victoria’s ports play a crucial role in our state’s exports and I am looking forward to leading the transition and future strategic plan of Ports Victoria,” Ronaldson said.

Former IPAA Victoria director and Labor politician Elaine Carbines has been appointed as deputy chair, as she is a ‘strong local leader who will provide critical knowledge of the Barwon region’, the state government said. Other appointees include Des Powell, Janice van Reyk, and Peter Tuohey. The members will work alongside the Department of Transport.

The entity will be located in Geelong, which the state government says recognises the city’s ‘important role in Victoria’s ports system – through GeelongPort and the future relocation of the Spirit of Tasmania’.

Ports and freight minister Melissa Horne has thanked James Cain from the Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) and Kate Roffey from the Victorian Regional Channels Authority for their ‘hard work and leadership’.

NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust

Niall Blair has been named chair of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT).

Niall Blair

Blair was previously the NSW minister for primary industries, water, lands, trade and industry, and deputy leader of the government in the Legislative Council. He is currently professor of food sustainability at Charles Sturt University, and co-chair of the NSW Circular Economy Research taskforce.

Environment minister Matt Kean said Blair’s experience and deep understanding of the agricultural sector would be ‘key in ensuring the protection, conservation and management of biodiversity on private land continues to be a priority’.

The BCT aims to support private land conservation through co-operative arrangements and promoting public awareness of biodiversity conservation. Blair said he was excited to ‘continue a legacy that has so far committed over three million hectares of private land in NSW to conservation’.

Qld commissioner Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa

The Queensland government has appointed C’Zarke Maza as the inaugural commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa).

The appointment follows the establishment of new laws that provide legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander families’ continued use of traditional child rearing practice.

Maza was most recently regional manager and legal practitioner at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. His past roles include senior criminal lawyer with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, lecturer at Southern Cross University, prosecution officer with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW), and legal practitioner at Legal Aid (ACT).

In his new role, Maza will help resolve long-standing issues faced by Torres Strait Islander people whose legal identity does not reflect their cultural identity, according to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships minister Craig Crawford.

“The commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) will make decisions on applications for the legal recognition of Torres Strait Islander traditional child rearing practices,” he said.

“As commissioner, Mr Maza will consider applications seeking legal recognition of traditional child rearing practices and make Cultural Recognition Orders which transfer the parental rights and responsibilities to cultural parents.”

Crawford noted that, as a Torres Strait Islander person, Maza also has a ‘deep understanding of the diversity and sensitivity of traditional child rearing practice’.

Maza said he was extremely humbled and honoured to be appointed to the role.

“I would like to acknowledge all the years of hard work of those many Torres Strait Islanders and other eminent people who were so critical in bringing about this process that allows for the legal recognition of our Ailan Kastom,” he said.

“This important legislation and the office are the first of their kind and I feel privileged to be a part of this significant landmark in our history. The Torres Strait culture to this day continues to be alive and strong and I am committed to fulfilling the task towards the legal recognition of our traditional child rearing practices.”


Will Luker

The South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet has appointed Will Luker as chief information security officer.

According to iTnews, Luker was appointed to the role last month after acting as CISO since David Goodman resigned from the position in January. Luker was previously deputy director at the department’s Office for Cyber Security.

Luker has worked at DPC for more than six years. Prior to that, he held roles at the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Council of the Australian War Memorial

Billionaire Kerry Stokes has been reappointed as a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial for a further 12 months.

Kerry Stokes

Veterans’ affairs minister Darren Chester said Stokes’ experience, leadership and dedication would continue to benefit the council and its ongoing stability, particularly as the Memorial progresses through the early stages of its major upgrade.

“The work of the council is crucial in raising national awareness of the service and sacrifice of our current and former Australian Defence Force members and their families, and as a member of the council and during his time as chair Kerry has done an outstanding job,” Chester said.

“Kerry is a passionate supporter and advocate for the Australian War Memorial and I thank him for his contribution to-date and congratulate him on his reappointment.”

The announcement of Stokes’ reappointment has come days after it was revealed a charity co-founded by the media mogul has been collecting donations to support the legal fees of SAS soldiers who face prosecution over the alleged murder of Afghan civilians.

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