Summer jobs: some recent public sector appointments

By The Mandarin

Wednesday January 10, 2018

A few interesting public sector appointments have taken place over recent weeks, while a lot of us were on holiday.

As we’ve previously mentioned, Graeme Head has gone from New South Wales Public Service Commissioner to inaugural Quality and Safeguards Commissioner for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the new head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission is Stephen McBurney, formerly Victoria’s Chief Examiner.

From merit protection to parliamentary expense claims

Annwyn Godwin, who had been the Australian Public Service Merit Protection Commissioner and Parliamentary Service Merit Protection Commissioner since 2008, was appointed chief executive of the new Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority just before Christmas.

Godwin’s public service career has spanned well over 25 years and she has held senior executive roles in customs, immigration and the Agriculture department. She has also served as Norfolk Island Public Service Commissioner.

“Ms Godwin’s experience will assist the authority to ensure that expenditure of Parliamentarians’ work expenses represents an ethical, prudent and cost effective use of public resources,” said Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, thanking Leonie McGregor for getting IPEA up and and running as acting CEO.

Annwyn Godwin

The job is unlikely to be as hair-raising as it was for the first leader of the agency’s British counterpart, Andrew McDonald, who gave a very interesting speech about the experience last year and offered some tips on keeping MPs honest. “The time to be radical is early on,” he suggested.

Plant scientist to fight extinctions

Sally Box will become the Department of the Environment and Energy’s next Threatened Species Commissioner later this month.

She has a PhD in plant sciences and started out doing threatened species assessments in the department, and went on to design and deliver conservation programs, including through a leadership role with the Green Army traineeship scheme.

The new commissioner has also worked on the delivery of the Emissions Reduction Fund and Australia’s climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement.

“Dr Box will continue the excellent work already underway, develop new initiatives and approaches and increase momentum for threatened species conservation,” said minister Josh Frydenberg.

She takes over from Gregory Andrews, who was first to take on the role in 2014. Since then, the Commonwealth has put more than $237 million towards over 1000 projects to stop the loss of plant and animal species, according to the minister.

“My predecessor, Minister Greg Hunt, appointed Mr Andrews and together they developed the world leading Threatened Species Strategy, under which the recovery of species like the helmeted honeyeater, warru and magenta lilly pilly is already improving,” Frydenberg added. “Their initiative and the contribution they have made has been very significant.”

Sally Box

“As the new Commissioner, Dr Box will continue to implement Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy and deliver practical, evidence-based approaches which ensure the Government’s conservation efforts and investments are targeted, coordinated and effective.”

Andrews was a controversial figure earlier in his career, however, having been exposed in 2006 for his somewhat questionable role in laying the groundwork for the Howard government’s Northern Territory intervention in remote Indigenous communities.

Award-winning leader to keep an eye on Canberra

Currently the director of national parks, Sally Barnes takes over as chief executive of the National Capital Authority on February 11, filling the role left vacant by Malcolm Snow last August.

Barnes took out last year’s ACT Excellence in Womens Leadership Award and has previously led the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. She’ll bring “energy and leadership” to the NCA, according to the acting Minister for Local Government and Territories Darren Chester.

“Ms Barnes will bring new energy to the NCA as it ensures Canberra is a national capital all Australians can be proud of,” Chester said.

“The NCA performs a special role on behalf of the Australian Government as manager and trustee of its interests in the national capital.”

DTA on-boards a procurement chief

The Digital Transformation Agency has appointed a former Westpac executive, Anthony Vlasic, as its first permanent chief procurement officer, based in Sydney.

ITNews reports Vlasic takes over the role, which DTA acquired from the Department of Finance last year, from acting CPO Angela Chow in early February. Prior to joining the big bank, he had worked for Boston Consulting Group and at the Australian Graduate School of Management.

WA Communities boss confirmed

Grahame Searle has been confirmed as the director general of the Western Australian Department of Communities, after acting in the role in since July 1 last year.

Searle’s two-year appointment comes several months later than his colleagues. He was the only acting DG left on a list of departmental heads announced last September, but the reason for the delay is unclear.

“Mr Searle’s role will be critical in leading the new department to deliver integrated services and achieve better outcomes for individuals, families and communities,” according to a joint statement from several ministers.

Grahame Searle

Before slotting in to the new department, he was State Reform Leader tasked with delivering better support to regional and remote Aboriginal communities, and had earlier been director general of the former Department of Housing.

“I congratulate Mr Searle on his appointment to this critical department and recognise the extensive experience and knowledge he brings to this role,” said the Minister for Child Protection, Women’s Interests, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence and Community Services, Simone McGurk.

“Mr Searle’s breadth and depth of experience across Government agencies and policy portfolios, including in remote and regional WA, ensures he is well equipped to understand the challenges and unique circumstances experienced by families and communities throughout the state.”

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