Catch-up: Immigration gong, top appointments

By Harley Dennett

April 24, 2015

Strong leadership

Immigration and Border Protection secretary Mike Pezzullo turned heads this week with a call to return to the powerful mandarins of old, at the speech organised by the Crawford School of Public Policy and the Sir Ronald Wilson Foundation:

“The legendary secretaries of [Sir Arthur Tange’s] era spoke their mind, possessed and wielded actionable ideas, formulated compelling policy options and implemented programs of national significance … They served with discretion, dependability and impact, and for those of us who are their successors as secretaries of the commonwealth we would do well to be guided by their legacy.”

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Maybe Pezzullo’s tight grip on the reins is what has appealed to those clamouring to join the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Randstad Australia gave out awards last night to the top 20 “most attractive employers in Australia”, in which the DIBP came third, mostly due to its desirability among men and people in the 45-66 year age group, according to Randstad’s employment market analyst Steve Shepherd:

“The investment government departments are putting into building positive and rewarding workplaces is paying dividends in their employer branding and therefore their ability to attract top performing talent.

“This is particularly true when you consider hit reality TV programs such as Border Security: Australia’s Front Line, which has helped highlight the exciting and rewarding careers that can be had within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and related departments.”

DIBP first assistant secretary Craig Farrell (left) accepting the award
DIBP first assistant secretary Craig Farrell (left) accepting the award

Senior appointments

The Department of Parliamentary Services will be looking for a new boss, following the departure of Carol Mills. For now Parliamentary Librarian Dianne Heriot will act in the secretary role.

Michael Barnes has been appointed to a full term to head the WA Treasury after acting in the role for 14 months. Around 12 other senior Treasury roles have been vacant during this time and can now be filled.

It’s not the first long vacancy for a top job in WA, so The Mandarin‘s David Donaldson looked into why the WA public service struggles to attract senior executives. John Phillimore, executive director of the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin Business School said the mining boom has created a shift in the state’s attractiveness to executives from Sydney or Melbourne, but the effect of long vacancies is unclear:

“There is very little research on the impact of having acting people in a role … so it’s impossible to say whether it has a negative impact. But it’s not really satisfactory to have such a long period of people acting, I think.”

Queensland Health has appointed a CTO from the private sector. Suncorp’s divisional chief information officer Colin McCririck was recruited earlier this year, but his appointment was made public through his appearance on a speaker’s list for Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation‘s Partner’s in Technology briefing, alongside Queensland Health’s chief health information officer Mal Thatcher.

Two additional general managers at Comcare have been announced this week. Tony Middlebrook will head up the insurance division, and Gary Jeffery will lead the claims management division.

The appointment process for all 18 top public service roles in Queensland continues, with more details of the Queensland Public Service Commission‘s requirements revealed. According to the Australian, using documents obtained by FOI, 350 candidates will reach the shortlist before referees are checked and interviews scheduled:

“Candidates will then be put through an hour-long psychometric test online, designed and prescribed by a registered psychologist. The process analyses each jobseeker’s psychological aptitude for the demanding role of leading one of the state’s busy government departments…”

As previously reported, the interviews will be conducted by Queensland’s acting public service commissioner Robert Setter, NSW Planning Assessment Commission and former APSC boss Lynelle Briggs, and South Australia’s co-ordinator-general and former Department of Premier and Cabinet head Jim Hallion.


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