7 May 2024

The Water Cooler: Comings, goings and consultations

| James Day
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Dr Mary Russell; the WA Governor, his wife and David van Ooran; and Nerida O'Loughlin

A breakdown of the latest appointments and open consultations in the Australian Public Service and across the public services of the states and territories.

APS Senior Executive Service

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Services Australia has made Sharna Bartley and Shaun Thomas its new national managers.

Sarah Russell-Farnham is the new assistant secretary for estate reform at Defence.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has promoted Alicia Barnes as general manager of project delivery.

Heather Cochrane has become assistant secretary of the governance branch at Treasury after moving from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

The Big Moves


Dr Mary Russell is next CEO of TEQSA

Education Minister Jason Clare has appointed Dr Mary Russell as the next CEO of Australia’s independent national regulatory and quality assurance agency for higher education – TEQSA.

Along with her appointment, Professor Peter Coaldrake has advised the Minister that he will be stepping down as TEQSA’s Chief Commissioner on 10 May.

In the meantime, Commissioner Joan Cooper has agreed to extend her term for up to a year to ensure continuity of the commission while recruitment for a new Chief Commissioner takes place.

executive public servant

Dr Mary Russell was made acting CEO of TEQSA in June, after being its executive director of regulatory operations. Photo: TEQSA.

Nerida O’Loughlin PSM reappointed as ACMA chair

Governor-General David Hurley has accepted the Federal Government’s recommendations to reappoint Nerida O’Loughlin PSM as chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In her current term, Ms O’Loughlin has led the ACMA’s work to strengthen telecommunications consumer safeguards, overseen the establishment of BetStop – the National Self-Exclusion Register and Australia’s first SMS ID Registry – and taken strong enforcement of anti-scam and illegal gambling rules.

public service executive

Nerida O’Loughlin’s third three-year term will begin on 14 October. Photo: LinkedIn.

Dr Paul Grimes PSM appointed to Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee

Dr Paul Grimes PSM has been appointed to the statutory body responsible for ensuring the integrity of Australia’s carbon-crediting scheme – the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC).

The announcement comes after the appointments of Professor Karen Hussey as full-time ERAC chair, Suzanne Thompson as First Nations member and Dr Libby Pinkard as CSIRO representative.

Before his appointment, Dr Grimes held senior roles across the federal, ACT, NSW, SA and Victorian public services. He also holds a PhD in economics from the Australian National University.

man speaking at government hearing or inquiry

Dr Paul Grimes received a Public Service Medal for his role in the government’s response to the 2007 GFC. Photo: Screenshot.

Stephen Rue resigns after six years as CEO of NBN Co

Following six years in the role and more than a decade with the company, Stephen Rue has resigned as CEO of NBN Co Limited.

The NBN board has advised that chief financial officer Philip Knox will become the interim CEO in due course, until a new CEO is appointed by the board.

During his tenure, Mr Rue oversaw the completion of NBN Co’s Special Access Undertaking and helped narrow the digital divide for communities in regional, rural and remote areas.

smiling man in suit

Stephen Rue has left his NBN Co role to become the next Optus CEO. Photo: NBN Co Limited.

Journalist Niki Savva appointed to Board of Old Parliament House

Respected long-time political journalist, author and adviser Niki Savva has been announced as an appointee to the Board of Old Parliament House (OPH).

The Board of the OPH was established in 2016 to decide the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by OPH and to ensure the proper and efficient performance of its functions.

Ms Savva joins OPH chair and former journalist and adviser Barrie Cassidy on the board, and other members including Bernard Wright, Gai Brodtmann, Professor Gregory Craven, Lenda Oshalem, Gerard Wheeler, and Museum of Australian Democracy director Stephanie Bull.

woman holding a book

Niki Savva has worked as a journalist in both the old and new Parliament Houses, and currently works as a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Photo: Facebook.

Our Watch announces permanent First Nations deputy chair

National violence prevention organisation Our Watch has announced Adnyamathanha woman Vicky Welgraven AM as one of its incoming co-deputy chairs.

Alongside Dr Victor Sojo and chair Moo Baulch, she will lead Our Watch’s work as an independent not-for-profit organisation working towards nationwide change in culture, behaviours and power imbalances to prevent violence against women and their children.

woman standing in front of flags

Vicky Welgraven is also a board director of Power Community Ltd, a member of UN Women Australia and an ambassador of the Hutt Street Centre in SA. Photo: National ATSI Women’s Alliance.

States and Territories

Simon Duffy made chief executive of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens

After leading education, tourism, science, conservation, place-making and fundraising initiatives for the past 27 years at Taronga Zoo, Simon Duffy AM has been appointed chief executive of the Botanic Gardens of Sydney.

He will also bring experience to the garden from successfully transitioning Taronga from a traditional zoo to a zoo-based conservation organisation.

man and garden

Simon Duffy will take up his new role from 3 June. Photo: Taronga Conservation Society.

Tim Faulkner appointed to NSW Supreme Court

Experienced commercial barrister Tim Faulkner SC has been appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

Mr Faulkner has acted for some of the largest law firms in Australia in professional negligence cases and specialises in insurance and reinsurance, both in courts and arbitration.

In 2020, he acted for corporate regulator ASIC in Australian Securities and Investments Commission v MLC Nominees Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 1306, which resulted in a civil penalty of $57.5 million – one of the largest civil penalties obtained by ASIC.

man in suit

When he begins his NSW Supreme Court role, Tim Faulkner will be a judge of the Common Law Division. Photo: 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers.

NSW Public Service Commission appoints Melanie Jones to its Advisory Board

Melanie Jones will be the 2024 Advisory Board Observer for the NSW Public Service Commission (PSC).

She will attend PSC Advisory Board meetings, and receive targeted training and mentorship from its members and PSC senior leaders.

The Board Observership Program was established in 2022 to support the disability awareness and confidence of the PSC Advisory Board and increase opportunities for employees with disability to develop leadership capabilities and help champion the disability community in the NSW public sector.

Simon Corbell the new chair of Victorian State Electricity Commission

Renewable-energy leader Simon Corbell has been appointed as chair of the Victorian State Electricity Commission (SEC) Board alongside four new permanent directors.

SEC Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Mr Corbell would be joined by Joycelyn Morton, Anna Skarbek, Jo Benvenuti and Damien Barnes.

Work is still underway to fill two additional board positions for the SEC as it works towards achieving Victoria’s energy goal of being 95 per cent renewable by 2035.

man in suit

Simon Corbell has worked across the public and private sectors in energy transition, most recently at the Clean Energy Investor Group. Photo: SEC Victoria.

Four new members of Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service LanguageLoop Board

Multicultural Affairs Minister Ingrid Stitt has announced four new members to the board of the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (VITS) LanguageLoop.

VITS LanguageLoop provides important translating services in more than 190 languages, including Aboriginal ones. All nine board members identify as culturally diverse and speak a language other than English.

The new members are Shara Teo, Thu-Trang Tan, Eugene Arocca and Kushal Shah.

Professor Kathy Laster AM has also been reappointed as chair after two successful terms.

Women’s Health Victoria appoints Sally Hasler as new CEO

Chair of Women’s Health Victoria Judy Hacker has announced the appointment of gender-equality advocate and former government executive Sally Hasler as its incoming CEO.

Women’s Health Victoria is a non-profit organisation working with government, the health sector and the community to improve health outcomes for women and gender-diverse people.

Before working for the Victorian Government, Ms Hasler held senior roles in The Fred Hollows Foundation, The Women’s Foundation Hong Kong and the Commonwealth Government.

She will assume the role from 1 July, until which time the organisation will be led by interim CEO Judith Ridgeway.

woman standing in front of tree

Sally Hasler is also a non-executive director of Lifeline Direct. Photo: Lifeline Direct.

Supreme Court of Queensland welcomes two new justices, elevates Justice Brown

Michael Copley KC and Rebecca Treston KC are the new justices of the Supreme Court of Queensland, while Justice Susan Brown KC has been elevated to the Court of Appeal division.

Mr Copley KC was a crown prosecutor within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for almost 20 years. Ms Treston KC made history by becoming the first female president of the Bar Association of Queensland in 115 years when elected in 2018.

Justice Brown is a past vice-president of the Bar Association of Queensland, director of the Law Council of Australia and member of the Supreme Court Library Committee.

Mr Copley KC and Ms Treson KC will begin their roles from 8 May, while Justice Brown is set to start on 25 June.

Queensland coronial services to be bolstered by two new coroners

The Queensland Government has appointed two new coroners as part of its Budget promises, pumping $34 million into the Coroners Court over the next four years.

Former Chief Legal Counsel for Queensland Health Megan Fairweather and barrister Amanda Bain will take up their roles on 7 May.

There has been a near-30 per cent increase in reportable deaths handed to the Coroners Court over the past decade, a trend these appointments are hoped to help address.

David van Ooran appointed as executive director of Perth Zoo

David van Ooran is the new executive director of Perth Zoo, succeeding acting executive director Claire Wright.

His appointment comes as Perth Zoo seeks to implement the next stages of its 20-year master plan, in which the WA Government has already invested $51 million.

three people

WA Governor Christopher Dawson (left) and his wife, Darrilyn, met David van Ooran last month to discuss Perth Zoo’s upcoming projects. Photo: WA Government House.

WA Attorney-General appoints two new magistrates

Attorney-General John Quigley has announced the appointment of two new magistrates to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.

Samantha Martella and William Yoo fill recently vacated positions and will also sit in the Children’s Court, Warden’s Court and Industrial Magistrates Court when required.

Admitted to practice in 2003, Ms Martella joins the judiciary after more than five years as chief legal officer at the Department of Communities.

Mr Yoo was previously a prosecutor for the state’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for about eight years and senior solicitor at WA Police for five years.

He starts his new role on 6 May and Ms Martella begins hers on 14 May.

Open for consultation

PwC building

Treasury has opened up two papers for consultation in its efforts to amend the regulatory weaknesses exposed by the PwC tax leaks. Photo: David Murtagh.

Otway Offshore Gas Victoria Project proposal

Australia’s offshore energy regulator has opened up comment on Beach Energy’s project to be sited around 20 km south of the Victorian mainland, with an operational life of up to 30 years. Submissions remain open until 20 May.

Inquiry into civics, education, engagement and participation in Australia

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is seeking written submissions from people with direct experience of civics and citizenship education, and challenges associated with electoral participation. Submissions remain open until 24 May.

Inquiry into economic self-determination and opportunities for First Nations Australians

The Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs is calling for submissions to learn about opportunities and impediments to training, employment and business development, and the economic and social infrastructure to support economic prosperity for First Nations people in the long term. Written entries are welcome until 24 May.

Response to PwC – tax regulator information gathering powers review

Treasury is seeking stakeholder feedback on a paper examining whether the ATO information-gathering powers remain fit for purpose and assist the AFP to investigate serious criminal offences perpetrated against the tax and superannuation systems. It also looks at the limitations on the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) using formal information-gathering powers before launching a formal investigation. Submissions can be made until 31 May.

Draft National Autism Strategy

The draft National Autism Strategy, not yet agreed to by the government, is seeking feedback to improve life outcomes for Australians living with autism. Submissions close on 31 May.

Non-compete clauses and other worker restraints

Non-compete clauses in employment contracts are now squarely in Labor’s sights, with the Federal Government insisting that such business methods are thwarting competition and holding back economic growth. Responses can be made until 31 May.

Updates to ASIC’s regulatory guidance for external administrators and controllers

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has released proposed updates that provide greater clarity on its expectations of external administrators and controllers when reporting and lodging statutory reports about alleged misconduct. Feedback on the consultation paper is open until 6 June.

Rapid uptake of automated decision-making and machine learning in the workplace

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training has begun a new inquiry calling on workers, employers, software developers and providers, academics, employer groups and trade unions regarding the digital transformation of workplaces across Australia. Submissions are welcome until 21 June.

Response to PwC – regulation of accounting, auditing and consulting firms in Australia

Treasury is seeking feedback on a paper identifying priorities to strengthen regulatory arrangements for the accounting, auditing and consulting firms in Australia. Feedback is open until 28 June.

For information on all the state and territory government projects open for consultation, follow the links below:

Federal Parliament Public Hearings

Wednesday (8 May):

Inquiry into insurers’ responses to 2022 major floods claims – Standing Committee on Economics

Time: 9 am – 2:15 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Eugowra Bowling Club, 5 Hill Street, Eugowra, NSW.

Ethics and Professional Accountability: Structural Challenges in the Audit, Assurance and Consultancy Industry – Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services

Time: 10:45 am – 5:30 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Wilarra Room, The Grace Hotel, 77 York St, Sydney, NSW.

Select Committee on the Perth Mint and Commonwealth regulatory compliance

Time: 12 – 1:15 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Thursday (9 May):

Inquiry into insurers’ responses to 2022 major floods claims – Standing Committee on Economics

Time: 9 am – 2:15 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Richmond Club, Enigma Function Room 1, 6 East Market Street, Richmond, NSW.

Friday (10 May):

Inquiry into insurers’ responses to 2022 major floods claims – Standing Committee on Economics

Time: 9 am – 2:15 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Mantra Parramatta, Gold and Silver Room, 1 Valentine Avenue, Parramatta, NSW.

Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 – Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

Time: TBA; Chamber: Senate; Location: Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Monday (13 May):

Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Technology Safeguards Associated with United States’ Participation in Space Launches from Australia – Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Time: 11:15 am – 12:15 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Committee Room 1R6, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

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