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Palaszczuk brings in more private sector hands to run departments

The staggered appointment of the top 17 public service positions in Queensland continues today with a further two people brought in from the private sector to replace existing agency heads at the departments of Energy and Water Supply, and Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and Commonwealth Games.

This follows a clean sweep earlier this year in which Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told each one of her top mandarins to reapply for their jobs or move on. The first two were appointed to Premier and Cabinet and Treasury in May. Then seven more followed last month.

Megan Houghton
Megan Houghton

Today, the premier announced Megan Houghton and Professor Paul Simshauser will join those ranks, having been appointed following the recommendation of an independent panel continuing the merit-based recruitment process.

Houghton will take on the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and Commonwealth Games, replacing current director-general Dr Richard Eden. She is an experienced CEO in the private sector, having created and built a start-up CitySmart over five years to design and deliver sustainability projects in Brisbane. The company claims to have delivered over $25 million worth of projects with over $290 million in projects in development.

Simshauser will take on the Department of Energy and Water Supply, replacing current director-general Dan Hunt. He is currently AGL Energy’s chief economist and group head of corporate affairs, and also a professor of economics at Griffith University.

Paul Simshauser
Paul Simshauser

Palaszczuk welcomed the recommendation of the panel and said the directors-general would bring a wealth of policy expertise, experience and leadership to the roles:

“The new directors-general together bring a combined 40 years’ experience to the roles, including in senior executive and management positions, across a number of industries, and the private and public sectors.

“Directors-general play an integral role in working collaboratively to support their ministers to help run the state and deliver essential services to Queenslanders.

“The new directors-general will work closely with their respective ministers to deliver on the priorities outlined in their portfolio charter letter, to ensure we deliver for Queenslanders.

“I am pleased the panel is continuing with their recruitment process, which is part of my Government’s commitment to returning to a Westminster-style system where bureaucracy is enabled to provide independent, high quality advice.”

The premier made no reference to the existing directors-general in those departments or their future.

The independent panel was chaired by the Public Service Commission’s acting chief executive officer, Robert Setter and also included Lynelle Briggs, Chairperson of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission and Jim Hallion, Coordinator-General, South Australia.

The selection process for the remaining eight positions is continuing and is expected to be completed shortly.

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.