Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Carol Mills lost the inside running to become clerk of the UK House of Commons back in December, and now she has lost her job, too.
Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate president Stephen Parry announced today that Ms Mills was terminated as of Wednesday. Parliamentary Librarian Dianne Heriot is acting in the role.
The DPS boss had been under pressure on several fronts. Late last year, she was chastised for her confused and allegedly deceptive testimony to a Senate committee investigating the department’s use of Parliament House security cameras to confirm one of its employees had passed information to former senator John Faulkner.
Her department was also recently the subject of a damning auditor-general’s report on its management of contracts and assets, which led to a grilling by a different Senate committee and reproaches from politicians of all stripes.
Controversy also surrounded the commissioning of about $40,000 worth of artistic photographs from Anne Zahalka, who lived next door to Mills in Sydney.
The embattled secretary emerged last year as a front-runner for the job of UK House of Commons clerk, causing a storm of controversy both here and in the UK over her suitability and qualifications for the plum role.
She was backed by UK speaker John Bercow but a large number of British members of parliament were reportedly aghast at the idea and unhappy with the appointment process, which has now been restarted.
Her bid for the job also brought her detractors out of the woodwork at home. Senate clerk Rosemary Laing took the unusual step of writing to the incumbent clerk of the Commons to sharply criticise Mills and express shock that she could be considered as his replacement.
It now looks very unlikely she will get that role.
Mills headed up DPS from 2012, after a three-year stint as director-general of Communities NSW. Before that she led the NSW Department of Arts, Sport and Recreation for one year.
Top image: Canberra CityNews