A year on, Queensland Premier appoints final two DGs

By David Donaldson

Thursday March 3, 2016

It took a year, but Queensland has finally filled all its director-general positions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the appointment of the final two, just over 12 months after telling all department heads they would need to reapply for their jobs.

Palaszczuk (pictured) said she was happy to accept the recommendations of the independent recruitment panel to appoint Jamie Merrick and Jim Reeves the DGs of the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection respectively.

Both had already been acting in their roles, Merrick since August and Reeves since November. The job of Science, Information Technology and Innovation director-general was re-advertised last year after a suitable candidate could not be found.

Following last year’s January 31 Queensland election, the government announced a “spill-and-fill” to re-appoint departmental bosses in a “merit-based” process. It’s been a long time — Reeves and Merrick are the last two to be named after the first two were appointed to Premier and Cabinet and Treasury in May.

The appointments of Merrick and Reeves mean the government has chosen 14 men and six women to lead its departments. Several appointees have private sector experience, with under treasurer Jim Murphy joining from ANZ and Paul Simhauser becoming director-general of Energy and Water Supply from his previous job as chief economist and head of corporate affairs at AGL Energy.

Jamie Merrick brings to the role extensive experience in the fields of economic development and innovation policy, Palaszczuk says.

His previous jobs have included deputy director-general roles in three Queensland government departments, including the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and former departments of State Development and Employment, Economic Development and Innovation. He also has experience overseas and outside government, having previously held senior roles in the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the East of England Development Agency and global exports in private sector ICT. He holds a Master of Science.

The Premier says, in his previous work for Queensland, Merrick has “provided strategic advice to cabinet across economic, social and environmental policy and co-ordinated the Queensland government’s contribution to the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit”.

“He has an impressive track record at the senior executive level,” she said.

Jim Reeves
Jim Reeves

Jim Reeves has “an impressive track record in public administration and leadership in environmental management, urban systems, regional planning and community development”, the premier says.

Before taking over as acting DG at Environment and Heritage Protection from Jon Black, Reeves was director of operations at QUT’s Institute for Future Environments, an environmental sustainability research centre. He is a former director-general of the Department of Environment and Resource Management and chief executive of Brisbane Water and has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Social Psychology.

The Palaszczuk government has been keen to emphasise the reshuffle of department heads has been “merit-based”.

Roger Scott, who served as director-general of the Department of Education under the Goss Labor government, hinted at the time of the government’s announcement of the replacement of DGs that some were suspicious of how appointments took place under then-premier — and former Brisbane mayor — Campbell Newman:

“Directors-general have been placed on notice that the reasons underlying their original elevation will be examined in the context of ‘merit selections’. Service in the Brisbane City Council was previously regarded as clearly meritorious above all other considerations; performance and qualifications will now play a major role.”

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