Movers & Shakers: new ambassadors, promotion at Services Australia, judge joins Federal Court

By Melissa Coade

March 25, 2022

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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Home Affairs has promoted Kylie Donovan to assistant secretary of people services.

Foreign minister announces new ambassadors, consuls-general

The Australian government has named a number of new top diplomats to represent national interests abroad. 

Maree Ringland

Foreign minister Marise Payne has announced Maree Ringland will replace Diana Nelson as Australia’s ambassador to Peru and Bolivia.

“In Canberra, she served in a wide range of corporate, consular and regional trade roles within DFAT,” Payne said.

Ringland is a career Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) diplomat and was most recently director of Australia’s Afghanistan consular support unit. She previously served overseas in Beijing, and with the Australian Embassy, Santiago de Chile, as its deputy head of mission. 

“Australia and Peru have a strong and growing relationship, including collaborating in multilateral forums such as the United Nations and World Trade Organisation,” the minister said. 

“Australia enjoys a cooperative and friendly relationship with Bolivia, with shared interests in mining, agriculture and empowering women and Indigenous people,” she added.

Andrew Barnes is Australia’s new ambassador to Lebanon, replacing Rebekah Grindlay. Also a career DFAT officer, Barnes has served as deputy head of mission in Hanoi, High Commissioner to Ghana and in Ottawa and Stockholm. 

In her announcement, the foreign minister referenced the many challenges Lebanon is currently facing, including ongoing economic pressures, COVID-19, and the aftermath of the devastating Beirut Port explosions of August 2020.

“Australia has a proud history of supporting humanitarian action in Lebanon, with a $105 million commitment as part of our response to the Syria crisis and the Beirut Port explosions, including $15 million in 2020-2021,” Payne said.

“We have also delivered planeloads of emergency relief supplies, most recently in November 2021, to assist households in need.”

Josh Riley

Josh Riley will be Australia’s consul-general and senior trade and Investment commissioner in Toronto, Canada. He replaces Grayson Perry overseeing the Consulate-General in Toronto and Consulate in Vancouver.

Riley was involved in the creation of the Australia-Canada Indigenous Economic Partnership as a former director, innovation and entrepreneurship of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business in Toronto.

John Prowse will take up the role of consul-general and senior trade and investment commissioner in São Paulo, Brazil. He replaces Greg Wallis, and will use his commercial experience to help showcase Australia as a premium supplier of goods and services and as an attractive investment destination in South America.

Prowse is a former DFAT employee and has a broad professional background spanning government and the private sector. Prior to joining Austrade, he worked in government relations in the energy sector, including time in Canberra and as country manager in Timor-Leste. 

In a statement, the foreign minister said both men would lead Australia’s trade promotion and investment attraction priorities in their respective posts. 

“The appointments demonstrate the Australian government’s commitment to promoting Australian exports and attracting foreign investment critical to the nation’s continued economic growth and prosperity,” Payne said.

Chief Health Radiation Scientist to lead ARPANSA

Gillian Hirth

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) will be led by Dr Gillian Hirth who will replace retiring agency CEO Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson.

Hirth is a member of the Commission on Safety Standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a member of the Main Commission of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).

In a statement, Hirth said she was committed to overseeing the implementation of important national projects such as the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, and contributing to the development of strong stewardship arrangements for an Australian nuclear-powered submarine capability.

“It is an honour to be appointed CEO of ARPANSA, which represents independent regulation in radiation protection and nuclear safety,” she said. 

“I am committed to ARPANSA’s broad and interesting program of work that contributes to the health and wellbeing of the Australian community.”

Hirth takes over from Larsson, who stepped up to lead the agency from the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority in 2010.

“I am proud of what the agency has achieved during my 12 years as CEO,” Larsson said. 

“This is a credit to the competence and dedication of staff across the organisation, and their willingness to take on new challenges.”

Federal Court appointment for Victorian lawyer 

Lisa Hespe

Lisa Hespe SC will replace the Hon Justice Paul Anastassiou as a judge of the Australian Federal Court in the Victorian registry. A former Mallesons Stephen Jaques (now KWM) lawyer, Hespe specialised in income tax, tax disputes and advising on mergers and acquisitions. She went on to serve as a part-time senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. 

Commonwealth attorney-general (A-G) Michaelia Cash congratulated Hespe on her appointment to the bench.

“On behalf of the Australian government, I congratulate Ms Hespe […] and thank her for her willingness to serve the people of Australia as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia,” senator Cash said. 

Former Australian government solicitor made new FOI commissioner

Leo Hardiman

Leo Hardiman QC PSM will join the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to help progress the agency’s freedom of information (FOI) work.

A-G Michaelia Cash said the Canberra-based barrister had more than 30 years of experience advising commonwealth ministers and government agencies.

“Mr Hardiman was previously deputy chief general counsel and national leader of the Office of General Counsel with the Australian Government Solicitor,” Cash said. 

“In 2020, Mr Hardiman’s work was recognised with a Public Service Medal for outstanding public service through the provision of legal services to the Commonwealth.”

Australian information commissioner and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk also welcomed Hardiman’s appointment.

“We look forward to welcoming Mr Hardiman to the OAIC and advancing the important work to promote public access to information held by Australian Government agencies and ministers,” she said.

Payment Systems Board gets part-time member 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the appointment of KWM lawyer Scott Farrell as a part-time PSB member for five years. The PSB is responsible for the Reserve Bank of Australia’s payments system policy.

In a statement, Frydenberg said Farrell led a number of reviews for the Australian government, including the Review into Open Banking in Australia in 2017, the Inquiry into Future Directions for the Consumer Data Right in 2020, and the Review of the Australian Payments System in 2021. 

“Mr Farrell is also currently on the Board of Industry, Innovation and Science Australia and a member of the Government’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Free Trade Agreements,” he said. 

The treasurer added that Farrell’s position on the PSB would maintain the high level of skills and experience on its board.

Trial division administrator appointed for Queensland Supreme Court 

Justice Glenn Martin AM has been appointed a senior judge responsible for the administration of the Supreme Court’s trial division, replacing Justice Helen Bowskill, who has been appointed chief justice. His Honour has served on the Supreme Court bench for nearly 15 years and took silk in 1998. 

Queensland attorney-general Shannon Fentiman said the judge’s service to national legal organisations showed the esteem in which he was held locally and across the country. 

“It is worth noting His Honour’s role as President of the Australian Judicial Officers Association – a national representative body drawn from all levels of the Australian court system, dedicated to maintaining a strong and independent judiciary in our country,” Fenitman said.

“It is heartening to see the wealth of experience, dedication and sharp intellect Justice Martin will bring to this additional position within Queensland’s justice system,” she added.

Federal government names members of new Great Artesian Basin Stakeholder Advisory Committee 

Gail Godwin-Smith will chair a new 13-member committee (GABSAC) established to advise on policies and initiatives for the Great Artesian Basin – one of the world’s largest underground freshwater resources. 

The Basin spans nearly 1.7 million square kilometres, which is more than one-fifth of the Australian continent. The committee will work closely with the Great Artesian Basin Senior Officials Committee to also implement a strategic management plan.

Resources and water minister Keith Pitt announced Godwin-Smith’s appointment on World Water Day (22 March), noting that the members of the GABSAC would each serve three-year terms. 

“The basin generates nearly $13 billion per year in income for Australia and is a vital resource, sustaining around 180,000 people, 7,600 businesses and 120 towns. For many, groundwater from the Basin is the only water they have access to,” Pitt said.

“Stronger water security means primary producers can put Australian grown produce on tables across the nation and around the world. This means more jobs, economic activity and opportunities for our communities.”

The minister said Queensland-based Godwin-Smith’s experience as a pastoralist as well as extensive corporate and civic leadership experience would place her well to lead the group responsible for championing the views of industry, communities and other stakeholders.

The other committee members are Scott Mason and Cathy White (also from Queensland); Dr Robin Gregory from the NT; NSW representatives David Johnson, professor Cameron Holley, Charlee-Sue Frail and Fred Hooper; associate professor Bradley Moggridge from the ACT; Victorian professor Matthew Currell; and South Australians Dr Ellen Litchfield, Michael Mayrhofer and Sharon Oldfield. 

SA public servant appointed to step up as National Archives head

Simon Froude has been named the new director-general of the National Archives of Australia (NAA).

The Mandarin reported last week that the current director of state records in South Australia will replace incumbent NAA director-general David Fricker on 23 May. His tenure will be for a five-year term. 

A-G Michaelia Cash said Froude’s leadership experience and strategic skills would help guide the NAA ‘through the next phase of its transformation’.

“I congratulate Mr Froude on his appointment to the important role of overseeing the National Archives which carries out the valuable work of managing government records,” Senator Cash said. 

Victorian mental health reforms to be guided by regional chairs

Grass-roots advice for the state’s mental health and wellbeing priorities will be led by the chairs of eight interim regional Victorian bodies. 

The new chairs are Jim Williamson (western metropolitan region), Malcolm Hopwood (north-east metropolitan region), Tass Mousaferiadis (south-east metropolitan region), Paul O’Neil (Loddon Mallee region), Emma Reid (Hume region), Kellie O’Callaghan (Gippsland region), Melissa Field (Grampians region), and Kathy Wilson (south-west region).

Mental health minister James Merlino named the new chairs this month, in response to a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

“Our new Mental Health and Wellbeing Interim Regional Bodies will help guide us as we continue to reform the mental health and wellbeing system from the ground up, ensuring it is more responsive, accessible and safe,” Merlino said.

“It’s critical we have local voices and people with lived experience to help shape the future of our mental health and wellbeing services and tailor them to the specific needs of local communities across Victoria.”

WA puts Wheatbelt Development Commission Chief in bushfire recovery role

Rob Cossart

Rob Cossart, WA’s Wheatbelt Development Commission CEO, has been named as a recovery coordinator for the region. It is the state’s first appointment of this kind, and the role has been designed to assist local governments with recovery efforts in the aftermath of catastrophic bushfires last month. 

On February 6, three separate fires blazed through WA agricultural regions. Overall, more than 60,000 hectares of farmland was scorched, killing livestock in the local government areas of Corrigin, Cuballing, Narrogin, Bruce Rock and Wickepin.

Emergency services minister Stephen Dawson issued a statement explaining that in Cossart’s current rule, he had an intimate understanding of the issues affecting each shire impacted by WA’s recent fires. 

“Rob Cossart is a community leader with considerable knowledge of the region, especially its agriculture, and he has a strong understanding of local recovery efforts.

“He is the ideal candidate to take on this challenging, yet important role,” Dawson said. 

Cossart’s recovery coordinator role will be responsible for chairing a new District Recovery Coordination Group to ensure targeted support is delivered to fire-affected communities.

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