Movers & Shakers: AGD’s new assistant secretary, water pundit joins Productivity Commission

By Melissa Coade

April 8, 2022

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Band 1

Jan Swanepoel has joined the Attorney-General’s Department as an assistant secretary from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The ATO has made three new appointments: marketing and communications assistant commissioner Bianca Armytage, who has been promoted from the Department of Social Services; Steele Broderick joins from the Department of Treasury to take on a role as Tax Counsel Network assistant commissioner; and risk and strategy — employer obligations assistant commissioner Michelle Allen.

John Foster has left the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to join the Productivity Commission as its new inquiry & research (water) assistant commissioner.

Austrade’s Carla Giuca has been promoted to head of policy futures.

Former ambassador to Japan to head FIRB

Bruce Miller

Bruce Miller has been appointed to chair the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for a five-year term. 

The former diplomat, who was Australia’s ambassador to Japan from 2011-2017 has also held senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Office of National Assessments, including as deputy director‑general from 2009‑2011 and director‑general in 2017.

In his post-APS career, Miller has held a number of private sector and academic positions, including as non‑executive director for TAL Dai‑ichi Life.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Miller would take on this new position following the recent passing of David Irvine, who led the non‑statutory body from 2017 until his death this year. 

“[David] was one of Australia’s most accomplished and respected public servants and will be greatly missed but never forgotten,” Frydenberg said. 

The FIRB was established in the mid-70s and plays an important role in advising the treasurer on foreign investment policy to ensure it only occurs in Australia’s national interest. 

Ex-petroleum boss picked to lead Murray-Darling Basin Authority 

New executive and board members for the MDBA and the new Modernising Murray River Systems Technical Panel have been welcomed by industry groups.

Andrew McConville takes on the role of MDBA CEO, replacing outgoing boss Andrew Reynolds. He is a former CEO of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA)

The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) welcomed the announcement, noting that McConville was taking on the role ‘at an interesting time for water policy and river operations’.

“Minister Keith Pitt has announced the appointment of Andrew McConville to the role of chief executive officer of the MDBA [sic] as we look to finalise the Basin Plan and prepare for the 2024 review. 

“Mr McConville has a wealth of experience, including in the agriculture sector, and NIC looks forward to working with him into the future,” a statement from the NIC said. 

“We would also like to place on the record our thanks to Andrew Reynolds for his work as Acting CEO and we look forward to continuing to work with him.”

The NIC also welcomed the re-appointment of professor Stuart Bunn and the appointment of Dr Jane Doolan to the MDBA Board.

“Under the leadership of Sir Angus Houston, the MDBA Board provides vital guidance to the Authority, and Professor Bunn and Dr Doolan bring significant skills, knowledge and experience to the roles,” they said. 

Significant national appointments for Indigenous affairs portfolio

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has named three major appointments in his portfolio.

Worimi man Joshua Gilbert will join the Board of Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) having served as co-chair of Reconciliation NSW and the boards of KU Children’s Services and the Aboriginal Housing Office.

Wyatt said Gilbert currently served as a senior researcher at the UTS Jumbunna Institute, and would also bring experience as an entrepreneur and business advisor to the IBA boardroom.

“[Gilbert’s] passion for Aboriginal culture, traditional knowledge, agriculture and the environment will see him guide business transformation and seize opportunities in the sustainability economy,” the minister said. 

Roy Ah-See

Wiradjuri man Roy Ah-See, from central NSW, will continue as a director of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) board.

Wyatt said Ah-See brought vast experience in private, public and community-controlled sectors as well as commonwealth, state and local governments.

“He has represented Indigenous Australians for many years and his ability to communicate at state, national and international levels across a broad range of sectors makes him a great fit for ILSC,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the minister also confirmed Daniel Bourchier would continue as a director on the Outback Stores Board.

“Having grown up in remote Australia, he knows the significant role stores play within their communities and brings a keen eye for strong governance and structural reforms,” Wyatt said.

Professor to lead expanded advisory committee for Australian Research Council

Curtin University’s deputy vice-chancellor, professor Chris Moran, has been appointed to lead the expanded Australian Research Council Advisory Committee as an independent chair. 

The government also announced nine other members for the new committee including Dr Mirjana Prica, professor Mark Hutchinson, professor Michelle Simmons, professor Calum Drummond, professor Maggie Walter, Mark McKenzie, professor Deborah Terry, and ex-officio representatives deputy secretaries Tony Cook and David Williamson. 

The group comprises leaders from across universities, industry and government. 

Judi Zielke, the ARC’s acting CEO welcomed the new committee announced by acting minister for education and youth Stuart Robert.

“I look forward to receiving strategic advice from the group to improve governance, drive reform, and to maximise the benefits of ARC-funded research for all Australians,” she said in a statement. 

Minister names new CEO for Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Dr Sandra Cuthbert will replace outgoing CEO of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FZANZ) adjunct professor Mark Booth. She has been acting as interim CEO since last August and has also previously served as general manager of the trans-Tasman agency responsible for Australia’s and New Zealand’s food standards.

Announcing Cuthbert’s appointment last week, minister for senior citizens and aged care services Richard Colbeck said the trained veterinarian had a career spanning private and public sectors, across biosecurity, agriculture and food standards.

“Dr Cuthbert will play a key role in advancing FSANZ and government priorities in coming months, delivering robust food standards to ensure the ongoing safety and quality of the food supply in Australia and New Zealand,” Senator Colbeck said.

FZANZ is governed by a board of 12 members, who play an important role in developing the national regulatory systems for food standards on matters such as food labelling, mandatory warnings and advisory labels. 

“These standards regulate the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives and vitamins and minerals and covers the composition of some foods, such as dairy, meat and beverages,” Colbeck’s statement said. 

Government announces SBS board member’s five-year appointment 

Katrina Rathie

Katrina Rathie has been picked by the federal government to sit on the SBS board as a non-executive director. She fills a vacancy created when professor Sally Walker AM concluded her term on the board in February. 

For seven years, Rathie was a ‘partner in charge’ at top-tier firm King & Wood Mallesons, where she was a sector leader of the media and entertainment practice. She has experience as an adviser to companies in the media industry, including broadcasting, digital media and digital technologies.

Commenting on Rathie’s appointment, communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts minister Paul Fletcher said she was a valuable contribution to the board. 

“She will strengthen the already diverse skills available to SBS’s leadership team,” Fletcher said. 

Four members join National Recovery and Resilience Agency Advisory Board

Terry Redman, John Tanner, Natalie O’Connell, and Fairlie Delbrige have joined the  National Recovery and Resilience Agency Advisory Board. They join re-appointed members Simon Crean, David Galvin, Fiona Simson and Tracey Hayes, alongside Ex-Officio members Joseph Buffone and Andrew Metcalfe.

Minister for emergency management and national recovery and resilience Bridget McKenzie said the members were responsible for advising the NRRA Coordinator-General and supported government policy intent and on the ground outcomes. She also thanked the outgoing board members for their efforts. 

“Don Heatley, Dr Wendy Craik, Gavin Baskett and Bill Heffernan have played important roles and I thank them for their efforts,” McKenzie said.

eSafety Commissioner welcomes youth advisory council

A new online safety youth advisory group of 24 people (aged 13-24) who will provide advice to the federal government and co-design policy and resources for online safety has been established.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant announced the members had been chosen last month, including NSW resident 17-year-old Imaaz, who wrote in their application: “A safer and more positive online world would be one that is empowering to all individuals, one in which there is understanding, inclusivity, respect, and trust between all users.”

Another 17-year-old council member, named Tamara, from Victoria, said in her application: “A safer and more positive online world to me would mean early education for children about online safety. If I were to be selected for the Youth Advisory Council, I would bring my extensive experience in educating and igniting passion for technology in young children.”

Paul Fletcher said the role of the council was important for the government to be able to draw on lived experiences in shaping relevant policies to make the internet a safer place.

“I welcome these young people to the council and know they will make an important contribution to the development of new resources that will help keep other young Australians safer online,” the minister said.

Part-time members reappointed to Competition Tribunal 

Dr Darryn Abraham and professor Kevin Davis have been reappointed to the tribunal for one year. The Australian Competition Tribunal is responsible for reviewing decisions of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on authorisations under the CCA, and decisions of the treasurer and the ACCC under the National Access Regime.

Josh Frydenberg said Abraham and Davis’ ongoing tenures would support the Tribunal with its current caseload.

“Dr Abraham was first appointed to the Tribunal in 2011 and then reappointed in 2016 for five years,” he said in a statement.

“Professor Davis’s reappointment will ensure the Tribunal has the required expertise in commerce and economics.”

Australia Council Board lands new members

Marie-Louise Thiele

The government has named five new board members to the Australia Council including Stephen Found, Marie-Louise Theile, Don Harwin, Philip Watkins, and Alex Dimos.

Tina Arena and Leigh Carmichael will also be reappointed for three-year terms.

Paul Fletcher said in a statement that the skills and experience of the appointees would be an asset to the principal arts funding body. 

“I look forward to seeing the valuable contribution these individuals will make to the Australia Council’s leadership as it continues to support the creative and cultural sector rebound from the challenges of COVID-19,” the minister said. 

The Australia Council board is dedicated to increasing the visibility of the local arts and culture sector, as well as making the arts more accessible to Australians. 

Five judges added to Federal Circuit Court, exceeding gender parity on bench  

Amanda Mansini

Natasha Laing and Gillian Eldershaw (Sydney registry), and Amanda Mansini, Alison Burt and Paul Glass (in the Melbourne registry) have been appointed to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) (Division 2).

In a statement, attorney-general Michaelia Cash said the numbers of judges in the FCFCOA were now tipped in favour of women.

 “This is the first time a federal court has recorded 51% current sitting female judges,” Senator Cash said.

“The number of sitting female judges across the federal courts as a whole is now at a record 44%.”

Cash congratulated the five new judges and thanked them for their service to the community.

“On behalf of the Australian government, I congratulate Ms Laing, Ms Mansini, Ms Burt, Mr Glass and Ms Eldershaw on their appointments and thank them for their willingness to serve the people of Australia as judges of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2),” the A-G said.

More Administrative Appeal Tribunal members 

Michael Mischin

The Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) will get a new deputy in former WA attorney-general Michael Mischin, nine senior members and nine members in light of the growing caseload the body must contend with. 

The senior members are Joanne Collins, Graham Connolly, Ann Duffield, Pru Goward, Dominique Grigg, Katherine Harvey, David James, Wayne Pennell and Karen Vernon. 

The new members are Lee Benjamin, Cheryl Cartwright, Kate Chapple, David Cosgrave, Tegen Downes, Edward Howard, Peter Katsambanis, Brygyda Maiden and Peter Papadopoulos.

The attorney-general said the caseload of the Tribunal’s Migration and Refugee Division and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Division had ‘increased significantly in recent years’. 

“All of the appointees are highly qualified to undertake the important task of conducting merits review of government decisions,” Cash said.

“On behalf of the Australian government, I congratulate all appointees, and I look forward to the contribution they will make to the Tribunal.”

Promotions and extended terms at the AAT were also announced for 26 other decision-makers: Denis Dragovic, Bernard McCabe, Justin Owen, Antoinette Younes, Mark Bishop, Andrew George, Linda Kirk, Gina Lazanas, Karen Synon, Rebecca Bellamy, John Cipolla, Susan De Bono, Kruna Dordevic, Fiona Hewson, Marten Kennedy, Giovanni Longo, Donald Morris, Susan Trotter, Rachel Westaway, Donna Petrovich, Jennifer Cripps Watts, Dr Bridget Cullen, Kate Buxton, Denise Connolly, Kim Parker and Lana Gallagher.

Hunt names expert advisory panel for mental health

Eight experts have been picked to join the federal expert advisory panel on mental health. Former national mental health commissioner professor Maree Teesson will chair the group, with members professor Ian Everall, Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, professor Helen Christensen, Shannon Calvert, professor Jennifer Hudson, professor Susan Cotton and professor Lorna Moxham.

Health minister Greg Hunt said the new panel would advise the government on funding priorities for future research investment under a $125 million program badged ‘million minds research mission’. The mission is part of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), which supports Australia’s best and brightest researchers to save lives and improve lives.

“This research will ultimately improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people; and broaden our understanding of eating disorders and suicide prevention,” Hunt said. 

An evaluation of the mission is currently underway to assess progress in line with its goals and will help inform the expert panel’s work reviewing an existing roadmap and development plan.


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