Heather Smith shifts from PM&C to head Communications


Dr Heather Smith, a deputy secretary at the Prime Minister’s Department, will step up to lead Communications and the Arts — and avoid working under her husband.

Smith takes the reins of the department after former secretary Drew Clarke quit to lead the Prime Minister’s Office. Smith is married to Martin Parkinson, the former Treasury secretary who now heads PM&C.

A short statement from Malcolm Turnbull revealed the shift today, saying Smith possessed an:

“… extensive and distinguished career in the public sector in a number of roles and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position.”

Smith, who begins her five-year term on January 25, most recently headed Turnbull’s taskforce on innovation and led work on public data policy. She was also Australia’s G20 “sherpa” during 2014 (pictured centre) — winning her a Public Service Medal in last year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list.

She has previously worked at Treasury, the Office of National Assessments and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has a PhD and a Masters of Economics from the Australian National University, and holds a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University of Queensland. She was an academic studying North Asia at ANU, and worked at the Reserve Bank for two years.

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