Movers & Shakers: New safe work chair and diplomats appointed

By Jackson Graham

February 4, 2022

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country 

Senior Executive Service 

Agnieszka Nelson

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The Australian Taxation Office has promoted Fiona Knight to litigation and legal services commissioner, and Alexander Affleck to deputy chief tax counsel. 

Patrick Burford has been named as communities group manager at the Department of Social Services

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Timothy Huggins

The Department of Social Services has named Agnieszka Nelson as families and payment support branch manager. 

Timothy Huggins has become an assistant secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has appointed Matthew Coleman as general manager of applied science and Jacqueline Knowles as communications, engagement and strategic policy general manager. 

New Safe Work Australia chair

Joanne Farrell is the next chair of Safe Work Australia, joining after four decades in the mining industry.

Joanne Farrell

Farrell has been Australian managing director and group executive of health, safety and environment at Rio Tinto, while currently serving as non-executive director at the Royal Flying Doctor Service and WA Museums. 

She replaces the outgoing chair of six years, Diane Smith-Gander, whom the government credits with guiding safety working practices during the pandemic, implementing responses to a Model Work Health and Safety Laws Review, and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Attorney-general Michaelia Cash thanked Smith-Gander for her service and congratulated Farrell on the appointment. 

“Ms Farrell brings to the role a wealth of experience in industry and WHS, and will ensure that Safe Work Australia continues to make an important contribution to the safety of Australian workplaces,” she said. 

Government’s diplomatic appointments 

Ian Biggs will be Australia’s second ambassador for arms control and counter-proliferation.

Briggs has held various diplomatic positions, including as Australian ambassador to Iran, Turkey and to Saudi Arabia, deputy head of mission at embassies in Vienna and Damascus and the high commission in New Delhi. 

He was head of secretariat at the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and has been in several Canberra-based roles for arms control and disarmament issues. 

Briggs was the assistant to the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. 

He replaces Australia’s inaugural ambassador, Amanda Gorely, who is now Australia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva. 

Christine Clarke

In another key appointment, Christine Clarke will be Australia’s next ambassador for women and girls.

Clarke has served as a defence adviser in the Australian High Commission, New Zealand. She was head of the Australian Defence Force’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office, as well as being in a number of senior roles in the Royal Australian Navy.

Her role will involve working to make gender equality and empowerment of women and girls a central focus of Australia’s diplomatic, development, and regional security efforts. 

Meanwhile, Heidi Bootle will be Australia’s next high commissioner to Vanuatu.

She has been the pacific partnerships and development branch assistant secretary at DFAT, has served overseas in Noumea, Honiara, and Paris and was a senior adviser to the foreign affairs minister. She replaces outgoing high commissioner Sarah de Zoeten.

Edward Russell

Edward Russell will be Australia’s next representative to the Palestinian Territories.

Russell will support the Middle East Peace Process, which includes advocacy for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist in peace and security.

He has been assistant director, levant section of Australia’s Middle East and Africa Division. He has previously served overseas in Lebanon and Solomon Island and replaces outgoing representative Mark Bailey, who served in the post since 2019. 

CSIRO executive stands in as ARC chief 

Judi Zielke

Judi Zielke, the CSIRO’s chief operating officer, will act as chief executive of the Australian Research Council while a process is underway to find a new chief executive. 

As reported in The Mandarin this week, Zielke is in the role following former chief executive Sue Thomas finishing her time as ARC chief after almost five years at the end of January.

“[Zielke] has extensive experience in the public sector in areas of policy advice, and implementation with positions held in Trade, Attorney General’s, Industry and Innovation and Infrastructure,” an ARC statement said.  

Library director-general reappointed

Dr Marie-Louise Ayres will remain director-general of the National Library of Australia for a second five-year term. 

She joined the library in 2002 and has worked in research libraries for nearly 30 years, after completing a PhD in Australian literature at the Australian National University.

Her most recent work has focused on providing digital access to cultural resources throughout Australia, and overseeing a redesign of Trove. 

Ayres is an immediate past chair of National and State Libraries Australasia, and vice chair of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries.

Her next five-year term begins on  March 2, 2022.

State’s local jobs commissioner

Victoria has appointed Moana Weir as its new local jobs first commissioner, replacing inaugural commissioner Don Matthews

Weir is a lawyer and chair of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. 

Her new role will be to advocate on behalf of Victorian small and medium-sized enterprises and promote the employment of Victorian apprentices, trainees and cadets on government construction projects.

“I look forward to working closely with industry and across government to help drive economic recovery and promote opportunities for local workers through Victorian government procurement,” Weir said. 

Matthews left the role after retiring last year. 

New judge joins Court of Appeal 

Cameron Macaulay has become a judge in the Court of Appeal. 

Justice Macaulay, who in 2010 was appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of Victoria, has a professional career spanning criminal and civil matters. 

He has also been chair of the Supreme Court Library Committee, Law Library of Victoria Committee, Council of Law Reporting of Victoria, and Consultative Council of Australasian Law Reporting.

The appointment of Justice Macaulay fills the vacancy created when Justice Stephen Kaye retired from the Court of Appeal in December. 

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