Movers & shakers: Social Services’ new group manager

By Melissa Coade

April 1, 2022

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country

Senior Executive Service 

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Tarja Saastamoinen

Tarja Saastamoinen has been promoted to families group manager in the Department of Social Services. 

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Harjit Singh

The ATO has promoted Perth-based Harjit Singh to assistant commissioner for the tax counsel network.

IP Australia’s Andrew Wilkinson is a new general manager in the patent examiner group. 

Leading researchers to advise government on science matters 

Emeritus professor Cheryl Praeger and associate professor Jeremy Brownlie will be scientific expert members of the National Science and Technology Council for the next three years. They replace former members professor Barbara Howlett and professor Geordie Williamson, whose terms finished in 2021.

The council is responsible for providing advice to the prime minister and other ministers on national science and technology issues.

In a statement, science and technology minister Melissa Price said the internationally recognised mathematician and a distinguished research scientist would be an asset to the council.

Cheryl Praeger

Commenting on Praeger’s expertise, the minister said she would broaden the council’s policy analysis and modelling advice. 

“Professor Praeger’s work in pure and applied mathematics, and the algorithms she developed, are used in technology around the world, such as secure digital communication and encryption for the web,” Price said.

“She was the first woman to serve as president of the Australian Mathematical Society, and the first woman to be awarded the Australian Academy of Science’s Lyle Medal,” she added.

The minister also acknowledged Brownlie’s extensive policy analysis experience.

“Associate professor Brownlie is a research scientist in environmental and agricultural sciences and deputy head of the School of Environment and Sciences at Griffith University.

“He is a former president of Science and Technology Australia from 2019-2021 and served with distinction through bushfire recovery and pandemic. His appointment will bring extensive policy analysis experience to the council,” Price said. 

Former public servant and WA MP joins state water board

Janine Freeman

Janine Freeman has been appointed to a three-year position on the WA Water Corporation board. She was previously the member for Mirrabooka in the state parliament before stepping down from her political career last year. 

The Water Corporation is a publicly owned body that works for the state’s citizens. As such, the board must make decisions taking into account a diverse range of perspectives, experiences and insights.

WA water minister Dave Kelly said Freeman’s appointment started on March 9, 2022. 

“Throughout her career in both public service and private enterprise, Ms Freeman has been a staunch advocate for fairness and equal opportunity for all.

“I have no doubt her breadth of experience will help build on the important work Water Corporation is undertaking around Aboriginal empowerment and equitable service delivery, in line with its core values,” Kelly said. 

Queensland appoints legal luminary for historic Justices Act review

Retired district court judge Michael Shanahan has been chosen by the Queensland government to lead a comprehensive review of the Justices Act 1886 for the first time in a century. 

Shanahan previously served as president of the Queensland Children’s Court from 2011-2018. In 2018, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to the judiciary and legal profession and as an advocate and mentor for juvenile and Indigenous justice issues.

Queensland attorney-general Shannon Fentiman said the Act was utilised daily and was fundamental to the state’s criminal justice system. The review would be used to create a new framework for contemporary and effective criminal procedure laws in Queensland’s Magistrates Courts, she added. 

“While the Justices Act has been amended and added to over the years, it has not been comprehensively reviewed, and many of its provisions carry the form and style of another era,” Fentiman said. 

“The government has committed to introducing new Magistrates Court criminal procedure legislation that supports a modern, fair and timely criminal justice system before the end of this term,” she said.

NSW Hospitality and Racing names new CEO

Anthony Keon

Anthony Keon has been appointed the new CEO of Hospitality and Racing by the NSW Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade. He takes on the role having worked for the state resources regulator within the Department of Regional NSW for the past four years.

Hospitality and racing minister Kevin Andrews said the Keon was uniquely placed to lead the newly created regulator of the liquor, gaming and racing industries as a former government regulator and former hotel licensee.

“The hospitality industry employs over 300,000 people in NSW and this Government remains focused on supporting and growing this critical sector of the economy to create more employment opportunities,” Andrews said. 

Keon said he looked forward to leading the government agency as it joined the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

“I look forward to engaging with industry leaders to see how the NSW government can work with them in the most effective way to ensure a vibrant, thriving and safe sector for everyone in the state,” he said. 

State government firms up key nominees for Queensland Olympic board

Nominees for the board organising Queensland’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games were announced by premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday, with all 22 board nominees expected to go before cabinet next week.

Olympians Natalie Cook and Patrick Johnson are the latest members named to join Queensland’s premier and deputy premier on the board.

“I have said from the start that I want all of Queensland to share in the pride of hosting our own Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Palaszczuk said. 

“Nat and Patrick have regional Queensland in their DNA. They are also world-class athletes.”

Cook and her competition partner Kerri Pottharst won bronze in beach volleyball at the Atlanta Olympics and gold in Sydney in 2000.

Runner Johnson is the current Oceania and Australian record holder in the 100m, with a time of 9.93 sec – the first person of non-African heritage to break the 10-second barrier.

“The Olympic motto is ‘faster, higher, stronger, together’. The most important word is ‘together’,” Johnson said.

“The Olympics and Paralympics have always been about promoting peace and togetherness through sport.

“I’m looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the Queensland version of this amazing event,” he said. 

Minister for sport and minister assisting the premier on Olympic and Paralympic sport engagement Stirling Hinchliffe will chair the legacy committee. The 12-member committee will be responsible for looking at the long term benefits of the games. 

The government also plans to announce independent directors, agreed to by the Premier and Prime Minister, derived from an international search very soon. 

Judge joins bench of Queensland Supreme Court

Sean Cooper QC will join the trial division of the Queensland Supreme Court from 11 April.

Queensland attorney-general Shannon Fentiman said Cooper was an eminent Queen’s Counsel, with two decades of extensive experience in commercial litigation. She congratulated the barrister on his new appointment. 

“Mr Cooper’s knowledge and legal expertise has been gained from handling high-profile and often complex matters across various jurisdictions, including in the Supreme Court, the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia,” Fenitman said.

“I have no doubt his skills and experience will make him a valuable asset to the Supreme Court in helping deliver justice for Queenslanders.”

Three appointments to NSW Supreme Court

Barristers Elisabeth Peden SC and Mark Richmond SC will be appointed new judges, and Jeremy Kirk SC will join the court as a judge of appeal.

NSW attorney-general Mark Speakman said the state was fortunate to have the trio serve the people of NSW.

“Mr Richmond alone has been practising law for more than four decades with successful cases in the High, Federal and Supreme Courts,” Speakman said.

“Dr Peden has also worked on high profile cases in the High, Federal and Supreme Courts and brings with her almost three decades of legal experience, including as a professor of law at the University of Sydney.

“Mr Kirk was admitted to the Bar 20 years ago and has practised nationally, in both trials and appeals, including many notable cases. He joins the Court of Appeal, which is widely regarded as the strongest state or territory appellate court in Australia.”

New judicial officers boost NSW Local Court with ‘all-time record’  

The NSW government is boasting ‘more efficient justice’ thanks to the appointment of four new magistrates to its pool of judicial officers sitting on the Local Court bench. 

Te’res Sia, Mark Whelan, Rana Daher and Rami Attia were this week named by Speakman, taking the total number of magistrates in the state to a record 149. 

“The appointments of Ms Sia and Mr Whelan fulfil the commitment made in last year’s budget to fund eight additional magistrates to ease the pressure on the Local Court. Ms Daher and Mr Attia are replacing outgoing magistrates,” the NSW A-G said. 

“We now have a record 149 magistrates overseeing a caseload equal to 96% of criminal prosecutions and 90% of civil matters before the state’s courts.”

Daher and Attia will replace two retiring magistrates in May, while Sia and Whelan’s appointments (starting from April) were made possible by extra funding in the last year’s state budget to help alleviate the pressures in the local court jurisdiction. 

Seven new members for WA’s disability advisory council

Clare Gibellini

WA’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability has announced seven new council members in line with a renewed strategic vision.

Dr Siyat Abdi, Chanel Bowen, Clare Gibellini, Georgia Inglis, Dr Rita Kleinfeld-Fowell, Danielle Loizou-Lake and Dr John Thompson will bring a broad range of expertise and life experience to the council, the WA disability minister said.

Don Punch met with the council on Thursday to discuss issues facing Western Australians with disability and the continued implementation of the WA state disability strategy.

“The council provides authentic advice and perspectives on issues relating to disability in Western Australia that is of enormous value to both myself and to the state government as a whole.

“The council’s advice will contribute to and inform a number of important initiatives that will impact the lives of people with disability, their families and carers in Western Australia for years to come,” Punch said. 

Current council members Kane Blackman and Mary Butterworth will continue on the committee, with Kane Blackman recently appointed to chair.

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