Bureaucratic shake-up sees PM announce secretary for public sector reform

By Melissa Coade

June 22, 2022

Anthony Albanese
Prime minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday. (AAP Image/Rob Blakers)

Anthony Albanese has unveiled his choice for a new secretary for public sector reform, in addition to swapping top mandarins across four government departments and picking a secretary for the new department overseeing climate change, energy, the environment and water.

Dr Gordon de Brouwer will take on the APS reform role, working in close partnership with APS commissioner Peter Woolcott, and under the direction of public service minister Katy Gallagher. He takes on the position after having been an economics expert jointly appointed to ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy and College of Business and Economics.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the prime minister said de Brouwer, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the public service, would rejoin the APS from 1 July to commence his two-year tenure. 

“Dr de Brouwer will lead and implement a wide range of public sector reforms which will support my commitment to place greater value on the public service and to grow its capability,” Albanese said. 

Also named among the PM’s team of senior mandarins were new bosses across the departments of foreign affairs and trade; infrastructure, transport, regional development, communications and the arts; employment and workplace relations; finance; and climate change, energy, the environment and water.

Jan Adams
Jan Adams

DFAT boss Kathryn Campbell has been dumped in favour of long-time diplomat Jan Adams, who will take the reins from 1 July.

Adams is currently serving as Australia’s ambassador to Japan, and has previously held posts as ambassador to China. She also has experience as a senior trade negotiator, as ambassador for climate change, and worked in a diplomatic capacity in Washington and at the OECD Secretariat in Paris.

Campbell, meanwhile, will be given a senior AUKUS-related role in the Defence portfolio.


Natalie James
Natalie James

Natalie James will be appointed secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. James has worked previously in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations in senior roles, including as chief counsel and state manager. She will commence her appointment on 11 July.

The prime minister has also announced that Dr Michele Bruniges AM will continue as secretary of the Department of Education.

Finance will get a new boss in current Treasury deputy secretary Jenny Wilkinson. She takes over from Rosemary Huxtable, who will be retiring on August 9. Wilkinson was awarded a PSM in 2021 for outstanding public service in the development of fiscal policy.

Jenny Wilkinson
Jenny Wilkinson

She has held a number of senior public sector positions, including as head of the Parliamentary Budget Office (July 2017-January 2020), and provided advice on a wide range of economic policy issues in roles across Treasury, the Department of Industry, the Department of Climate Change, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Reserve Bank of Australia. 

Jim Betts, a public servant with extensive jurisdictional experience, has been chosen to lead the large Department of Infrastructure Transport Regional Development Communications and the Arts, from 11 July. He replaces Simon Atkinson. Betts’ CV includes roles such as secretary of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, secretary of the Victorian Department of Transport, and CEO of Infrastructure NSW. He is also a former EY partner.

Jim Betts
Jim Betts

“He will bring to the federal level a deep understanding of the priority challenges facing Governments in this space,” a statement from the PM said. 

The brand new Department of Climate Change Energy the Environment and Water will be headed by David Fredericks, who will leave his post as boss of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources to take on the role. 

Fredericks has previously worked as a senior ministerial adviser at both state and commonwealth levels, and the Solomon Islands’ ministry of treasury. He has also held senior positions with the Department of Environment and Energy, at the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Finance.

David Fredericks
David Fredericks

The PM said an announcement of who would head the Department of Industry, Science and Resources would be made soon. In the interim, ministers would appoint acting secretaries as required. 

“I congratulate Mr Betts, Ms Adams, Ms James and Ms Wilkinson on their appointments,” he said of the five-year secretary appointments. 

Albanese thanked Atkinson and Campbell for their services — their roles as head of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and DFAT, respectively, will end on 1 July. 

“They have both brought great professionalism and deep experience to the range of roles they have held, and I wish them both the best,” Albanese said.


Election 2022: Add seven new secretaries and a couple of senior agency heads?

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