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Kibblewhite shifted in overhaul at top of NZ state sector

Andrew Kibblewhite and four other New Zealand public sector bosses are being replaced, in a major overhaul of the state sector.

Kibblewhite, currently chief executive at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, has been appointed secretary for justice and chief executive of the Ministry of Justice for five years.

It’s a change that would seem out of place in Australia, where outgoing heads of DPC or PM&C are rarely disposed to stick around — they tend to retire, move to another state or go into the private sector.

Brook Barrington, currently secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade and chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will take over from Kibblewhite when the latter moves jobs on 1 February 2019.

Three other appointments have been announced:

  • Andrew Bridgman, currently secretary for Justice and chief executive at the Ministry of Justice, will take over from Helene Quilter when her term as secretary of Defence and chief executive of the Ministry of Defence finishes on 30 June 2019.
  • Ray Smith, currently chief executive of the Department of Corrections, has been appointed director-general for Primary Industries and chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries. He will replace Martyn Dunne for a five year term on 1 November 2018.
  • Secretary for Internal Affairs and Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs Colin MacDonald has decided to step down and pursue new opportunities, and will be replaced by Paul James, currently chief executive at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, for five years from 1 October 2018.

“These appointments will be made by transfer,” said State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes.

“This approach ensures we retain strong, experienced leadership and continue to drive important transformation programmes underway across the Public Service. Stability of leadership is a critical component of delivering the promised changes.”

Hughes thanked the three chief executives who will be finishing up in their roles.

“Colin MacDonald is stepping down as Secretary for Internal Affairs to pursue new opportunities,” said Mr Hughes. “I have huge respect and admiration for Colin, who has made a significant contribution in a number of senior leadership roles since joining the Public Service in 2001 after a notable career in the private sector. I thank him for his service.

“Martyn Dunne will retire after 50 years of public service. Martyn has held a number of notable roles, including a distinguished military career, two years as New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia and the last five years as Director-General of Primary Industries. I thank him for his dedication, his leadership and his service.

“Helene Quilter is leaving at the end of her term as Secretary of Defence and Chief Executive, Ministry of Defence. She was the first woman appointed to this role and she has done an outstanding job in the last six years. Helene started her public service career in the late 1970s and her contribution and leadership have been immense.”

The following vacancies will be advertised and filled over the next twelve months:

  • Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Chief Executive, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Chief Executive, Department of Corrections
  • Chief Executive, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Chief executives in NZ are appointed for a term of not more than five years and can be reappointed for a second subsequent term. The maximum a chief executive can serve in the same role is usually limited to eight years.

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.