Movers & shakers: New deputy secretary for Education

By Melissa Coade

Friday September 3, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Brenton Philp

Band 3

Brenton Philp has been promoted as deputy secretary of early childhood and child care within the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Band 1 

A number of new assistant secretaries have been named, including David Higgins from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Vera Holenstein with the Department of Treasury, and Natasha Ploenges at the Department of Health

The Department of Home Affairs’ latest assistant secretary promotion is Brett Liebich, and Bjon Roberts has been named as a commander.

Mikaela James has been elevated to a senior executive Band 1 position within the Department of Defence.

Amanda Rice is the new national manager strategy and planning at the Australian Financial Security Authority based in Adelaide. 

Peter Johnstone

NSW government picks new Chief Magistrate

Peter Johnstone, President of the Children’s Court of NSW, has been named as the state’s new Chief Magistrate. 

Johnstone commenced his legal career in 1973 and went on to become the national chief operating partner of one of Australia’s largest law firms (then known as Dawson Waldron) in 2001. 

In 1997 Johnstone first served as an acting district court judge, and in 2006 was appointed as a full-time judge. He has led the Children’s Court since 2012.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said Johnstone brought a wealth of experience to the role and highlighted his compassion to vulnerable children as being an asset to his approach to the administration of justice.

“This wealth of leadership experience, including as head of a jurisdiction crucial to steering young people away from a life of crime, will be invaluable as Judge Johnstone becomes responsible for the busiest jurisdiction in Australia. 

“So too, his previous roles as a part-time NSW Law Reform Commissioner and Deputy Chair of the Medical Tribunal of NSW,” Speakman said.

Judge Graeme Henson retired as NSW Chief Magistrate last month after 15 years in the position. Speakman thanked Henson for his distinguished service on the bench of the Local Court for 33 years.

“I thank him for his dedicated service to the people of NSW through his valued work in the justice system and for being a tireless advocate for his court,” Speakman said. 

The attorney general acknowledged Henson’s efforts to ‘keep court users safe’ and the ‘wheels of justice moving’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his role implementing complex criminal justice reforms more broadly. 

Six new members for Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council (BHTAC) 

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that six new members will join the BHTAC to help shape economic recovery, job creation and improved road safety through upgrades to Queensland’s longest road.

Among the new council members are civil engineers Ellie Pearson and Anita

Anita Mumford

 Mumford, Julie Boyd whose background is in local government and regional development, roads and highways engineer Robert Dorgelo, architect and urban designer Tania Dennis, and former road safety advisor Brian Hughes.

In a statement on Wednesday, Palaszczuk said the new members would join RACQand representatives from the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) to work on the future development of the 1,700km Bruce Highway. 

“My government established the Bruce Highway Trust to take the politics out of funding the Bruce to make sure the funding was going to where it’s needed most,” the premier said. 

“Our long-term Bruce Highway upgrade program is critical in making sure all motorists who use it – get to their destination safely and is a pivotal part of our Economic Recovery Plan providing a steady pipeline of jobs for Queenslanders during very uncertain times,” she added.

Council chair Peter Garske welcomed the announcement of the new members and said they would help to develop a 15-year vision and three five-year rolling Action Plans, as well as the Safer Bruce 2030 Action Plan.

“We welcome the six new members and the unique regional perspectives they bring,” Garske said. 

Public sector leaders among Chief Executive Women (CEW) new members

Jeanette Young PSM, Queensland’s chief medical officer and incoming governor of the state, and Frances Adamson AC, former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary and incoming governor of South Australia are among a record 194 new members of CEW.

Chief scientist Catherine Foley PSM from the CSIRO and E-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant were also named among the group, which has influenced and engaged all levels of Australian businesses and government to achieve gender balance since 1985. 

CEW president Sam Mostyn said that the group’s members comprised women leaders who have been instrumental in helping Australia through the pandemic and an ‘extraordinary’ 12 months. 

“Women leaders are connected and influential across business, politics, academia, sport and the not for profit sector. Our voices and experiences have played a significant role during this challenging time, and we look forward to continuing to participate in the discussions and decisions in our future,” Mostyn said. 

Among the new senior executive women joining the group were 30 women from government, 15 women from the Not-for-Profit sector, 26 from financial services, 11 from education, 14 from mining and resources and 26 from other sectors across the community.

“CEW members represent a broad cross section of Australian society, and bring great insight to many of Australia’s critical debates about our future. All 194 new members are exceptional leaders and I look forward to welcoming them to CEW,” Mostyn said. 

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