Don Russell takes top SA public sector job

By David Donaldson

Monday February 6, 2017

Former Keating adviser Dr Don Russell has assumed the mantle of South Australia’s top mandarin following the resignation of Kym Winter-Dewhirst as chief executive of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Winter-Dewhirst has stepped down as Premier Jay Weatherill’s chief public servant to care for his wife, who is suffering from cancer. He was appointed in January 2015.

Elevated to the top job will be Department for State Development chief executive Don Russell (pictured).

The government has made a couple of other appointments. Mark Duffy, previously the government’s chief economist, has has been appointed to Russell’s former role of chief executive of the Department of State Development.

Ingrid Haythorpe, previously deputy chief executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, has also been appointed chief executive of the Attorney-General’s Department, taking over from acting chief executive Caroline Mealor.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill thanked Winter-Dewhirst for his contribution towards “modernising” the public service:

“I was saddened to hear the news of Mr Winter-Dewhirst’s wife’s illness — and I am deeply grateful for his outstanding service to the South Australian community in his time at the helm of my Department.

“He has achieved extraordinary results over the last two and a half years, in particular his efforts in modernising the public sector and focusing on international engagement.

“I consider Dr Don Russell to be one of the nation’s best public servants and I have little doubt he will make a very positive contribution to my Department.”

Russell was principal adviser to prime minister Paul Keating between 1985 and 1993. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, and was ambassador to the United States from 1993 to 1995. He was later appointed secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, and has been in charge of State Development in SA since August 2014.

The Premier also welcomed Duffy and Haythorpe:

“As one of our Government’s top economic minds, Mark Duffy brings to his new role significant experience from the NSW public service and will make an excellent leader of the Department of State Development.

“The Attorney-General’s Department will be well served with a leader of the calibre of Ingrid Haythorpe. She has provided enormous value to my Department, driving key COAG reforms and a customer service focus within my Department.”

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