Cabinet meeting decisions to seal fate of some secretaries

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday June 21, 2022

Kathryn Campbell
Kathryn Campbell. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

A cabinet meeting convened by prime minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday will confirm who stays and who goes at some government departments, with a new secretary marking a reset.

With Glyn Davis now a few weeks into his stint as head of DPM&C, work is underway to find a secretary for the newly created mega department of climate change, energy, the environment and water.

The prime minister will likely announce several departmental appointments this week. 

New appointments are expected to be made for mandarins to lead the Finance and Health departments. Incumbent secretaries Rosemary Huxtable and Brendan Murphy plan to retire.

Also likely to go as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be Kathryn Campbell, who was only appointed to the role in Scott Morrison’s last bureaucratic shake-up in July 2021. 

The former head of Social Services was the second female department leader after replacing Frances Adamson, who became South Australia governor following her top APS post.

Campbell’s previous job was beleaguered with controversy, as she oversaw Social Services at the time of the disastrous Robodebt program. Last year the federal court described the unlawful scheme as a ‘stuff up’ at best. Justice Bernard Murphy handed down a scathing decision against the Commonwealth, ruling it “should have been obvious” to public servants and ministers running the scheme that the process for determining debts was flawed.

Campbell’s subsequent appointment to DFAT last July had many, including Labor in opposition, scratching their heads. According to reports by the ABC, she will likely be shunted to a smaller department following Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

Among the leading mandarins tipped to take on the senior job at DFAT include Australia’s current ambassador to Japan, Jan Adams, and Defence secretary Greg Moriarty. 

Adams was also a former Australian ambassador to China and worked closely with Penny Wong under a previous Labor government.

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