What Drew Clarke and Melinda Cilento did next

By The Mandarin

August 15, 2017

As the co-author of the Productivity Commission’s boundary-pushing Data Availability and Use inquiry report, Commissioner Melinda Cilento won’t be sticking around for the government’s response.

Which is a shame because few expect fellow co-author and PC Chair Peter Harris will be sticking around for much longer either — his contract ends early next year. Meaning when the government eventually get around to putting out its alternative version of a plan, there might not be many respected internal voices left to highlight which policy holes most need filling.

As an ex-Treasury economics wonk, with a stint at the Business Council of Australia, who didn’t mind dabbling in the social policy side a bit too, Cilento will be right at home as she moves on to become the next chief executive of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. The Mandarin wishes her well and hopes to continue seeing rigorous research and policy discussion that CEDA has rightly earned a reputation for.

Drew Clarke’s connection to Malcolm Turnbull isn’t quite done, despite having stepped down from his role as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff in April this year.

The former mandarin of two departments, Communications and before that Resources, Energy and Tourism, and recipient of the Public Service Medal, will be taking up a role as a non-executive director of the board of NBN Co Limited.

Some will see the appointment as a reward for loyalty — Clarke was involved in the Coalition’s NBN review while at Communications — ministers Mathias Cormann and Mitch Fifield, however, announced the move this morning as a coup for NBN, given Clarke’s government, regulatory and close understanding of NBN’s operational business.

NBN is currently the centre of regulatory and consumer attention, with widespread reports of consumers not getting the speeds they contracted for. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has been asked to review the problem and come back with recommendations by years end. The NBN rollout is expected to be complete in 2020.

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