4 June 2024

The Water Cooler: Comings, goings and consultations

| James Day
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a man and two women

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

Band 1

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has welcomed Stuart Kerr from Treasury as an assistant secretary and senior executive lawyer, but also raised Henry Jones to an SES Band 1 role.

Gabrielle Lewis has been promoted to executive director of advice at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Sport Integrity Australia has promoted Chris Butler to head its anti-doping operations.

Band 2

The Attorney-General’s Department has made Bridie Dawson its chief people officer.

Services Australia has appointed several general managers: Rachael Clarke and Rhona MacPherson for health service delivery, Robert Williams for face-to-face services, Sally Martin for wellbeing and HR support, and promoted Biana Ruut to service design and face-to-face transformation.

The Department of Home Affairs has promoted Sara Vrh to first assistant secretary of transformation, James Robinson to first assistant secretary of strategic policy, and Gemma Smyth to first assistant secretary of the counter-terrorism coordination centre.


Independent reviewer appointed for Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity

Dr Michele Allan AO is the independent reviewer of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB).

The IGAB is an agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to strengthen the biosecurity system and enhance national collaboration among Australian governments. The agreement recognises that biosecurity is a shared responsibility between all governments, industry, natural resource managers, custodians and land users, and aims to strengthen these partnerships.

Selected for her considerable knowledge and experience, Dr Allan is expected to hand in her review by January 2025 so the government can determine where adjustments to the IGAB are needed to ensure it remains efficient, effective and responsive.


Dr Michele Allan is currently serving her second term as chair of Wine Australia. Photo: Charles Darwin University.

New associate members for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Federal Government has appointed Adam Suckling and Dr John Small as part-time associate members of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Mr Suckling is a member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and has been appointed as an ACCC associate member until 24 July, 2028.

Dr Small is the chair of the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) and has been appointed as an ACCC associate member until 7 June, 2025.

Cross-appointments between the ACMA and the ACCC began in 2007 to ensure a consistent approach is taken when competition and communications matters intersect. Since 2010, the same has occurred between the NZCC and ACCC to promote the alignment of competition law administration in both jurisdictions.

Parliamentary Budget Officer announces departure

Dr Stein Helgeby will not seek reappointment as the Parliamentary Budget Officer when his term expires in November.

Under Dr Helgeby’s leadership, the department said it had upheld its reputation for providing independent and non-partisan economic and fiscal analysis to Parliament.

Dr Helgeby was appointed to the role on 18 November, 2020, after serving as a Deputy Secretary in the Commonwealth Department of Finance and in several roles within the Commonwealth and Victorian public services.

After advising the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, the Parliamentary Services Commissioner, Dr Gordon de Brouwer, will undertake a merit-based recruitment process to appoint a new Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Dr Iain Ross appointed as chair of Net Zero Economy Agency

The Federal Government has appointed Dr Iain Ross AO as acting chair of the Net Zero Economy Agency (NZEA) to replace former chair Greg Combet. The appointment took effect on 1 June.

The government says Dr Ross’s appointment will be made permanent once legislation to formally establish the agency passes Parliament.

He will be supported by an independent board, with members to be appointed following legislation passing the Parliament, while a recruitment process for a CEO of the authority will be advertised in June.

man in office chair

Dr Iain Ross has served as a president of the Fair Work Commission and as a judge of the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Victoria. Photo: Screenshot.

Nation’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner established

The Federal Government has established Australia’s first federal Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and will shortly begin a search for the individual to fill the role.

On 28 May, the Modern Slavery Amendment (Australian Anti-Slavery Commissioner) Bill 2023 passed through Parliament and brought in an independent commissioner to lead the fight against modern slavery.

The 2023-24 Budget has committed $8 million over four years to support the commissioner’s establishment and operation.

The Anti-Slavery Commissioner will work across government, business and civil society to prevent and respond to modern slavery by supporting victims and survivors, raising community awareness, and helping business address the risk of modern slavery practices in their operations and supply chains.

The commissioner will also play a key role in helping to shape the implementation of future modern slavery reforms, including those arising from the statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018.

States and Territories

CEO of Liverpool City Council terminated following allegations of misconduct

On 29 May in NSW, the Liverpool City Council voted to terminate the employment of CEO John Ajaka.

The move comes after NSW Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig told his office to undertake an investigation into the council after it became clear there was “a fractured relationship between councillors and staff”.

At the end of April, a group of Liverpool councillors reported their serious concerns around Mayor Ned Mannoun. They said he planned to force “potentially disastrous” staff cuts, including Mr Ajaka, to fund a $50 million pool in an electorate currently held by the Mayor’s wife.

This followed a confidential session where the Liverpool Council granted Mr Ajaka special leave without pay and agreed to launch an independent inquiry into the council’s workplace culture.

In response to the recent decision to let their CEO go, a group of councillors who were against the termination have lodged a rescission motion in accordance with their responsibilities under the Local Government Act 1993.

The councillors said they voted without being in possession of the full report into allegations of misconduct by Mr Ajaka that was initiated at the April meeting. They also claim “a final report into these allegations had not even been completed by the independent investigator engaged by Council”.

Independent Review into Victorian schools’ administration burden

Katie Roberts-Hull will lead the Victorian Government’s independent review of administrative and compliance activities in government schools.

The review will provide recommendations to the state on addressing concerns about the scale and impact of administration in schools on the workload of both teachers and school leaders.

She will be supported in her role by an expert reference group of current principals, teachers, business managers and school support staff. Peak principal organisations and unions, including the Australian Education Union, will also play a key role in contributing to the review.

The review began last month and a final report is expected by December.

smiling woman

Katie Roberts-Hull has been chosen to lead the review due to her combination of public policy and education expertise, including her experience as a former teacher. Photo: Think Forward Educators.

Queensland announces first peak body for Seniors Social Isolation Prevention program

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) Queensland has been announced as the first peak body to support more older people to stay connected with each other and their communities.

COTA will receive $1.25 million over five years for the Seniors Social Isolation Prevention program to provide leadership and advice to more than 40 funded services throughout the state and provide research and advice to the government about the impacts of social isolation for older people.

The funding is part of a $12.5 million five-year investment to improve the quality of life for older Queenslanders at risk of social isolation or loneliness due to health issues, loss of family and friends, or limited mobility and income.

As part of the new role, COTA Queensland will deliver training and service development opportunities for funded organisations, and explore online activities and volunteering in local communities for older Queenslanders.

David Koch appointed as chair of the South Australian Tourism Commission

David Koch has been appointed as the next chair of the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC).

The former host of Sunrise will work with the SATC board to set the strategic agenda for the commission, which is an independent statutory authority administered under the South Australian Tourism Commission Act 1993.

Mr Koch is replacing Andrew Bullock, chair of SATC since 2019, and will serve for three years.

smiling man wearing football scarf

David Koch is the executive chairman of Pinstripe Media and has been chair of the Port Adelaide Football Club since 2012. Photo: Facebook/Port Adelaide Football Club.

Director-General of WA to lead national research council

The West Australian Department of Education’s Director-General Lisa Rodgers is leaving to take up the position of chief executive officer of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

Ms Rodgers was appointed as Director-General in January 2019 and guided the Department of Education’s nation-leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Ms Rodgers will not leave the Department of Education until later in the year, a recruitment process will begin soon to enable the appointment of a new Director-General.

Mike Rowe permanently appointed as Communities Director-General of WA

The West Australian Government has confirmed the formal appointment of Mike Rowe to the position of Director-General at the Department of Communities.

The agency is responsible for delivering vital frontline social services across critical state government functions such as housing, child protection, prevention of family and domestic violence, community services and disability services.

smiling man wearing glasses

Mike Rowe first moved into the role in 2021, having transferred from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, where he also held the position of Director-General. Photo: The University of Western Australia.

Justice Kathleen Glancy named as president of WA’s State Administrative Tribunal

Attorney-General John Quigley has announced Justice Kathleen Glancy as the next president of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

SAT makes determinations on a breadth of disputes including commercial, civil, development, resources, guardianship and administration, and proceedings involving regulated professionals.

Her five-year term as president begins on 4 June and she will also continue in her current position as a Supreme Court judge, which she took up on 29 January, 2024.

man and woman at swearing-in ceremony

Justice Kathleen Glancy previously worked at the SAT as a deputy president from October 2020 to January 2024, while concurrently serving as a District Court judge. Photo: WA Government House.

Kylie Maj is WA’s new Department of Justice Director-General

Kylie Maj has been appointed as the next Director-General of the West Australian Department of Justice.

As Deputy Director-General Strategic Reform, Ms Maj has been driving evidence-based justice reforms in WA from concept to delivery and leading important social policy initiatives.

She established the Legislative Services directorate, convened the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee and developed the Family and Domestic Violence Strategic Framework.

smiling woman with bridge in background

Kylie Maj will begin her five-year term in the role from 28 June. Photo: WA Government.

Open for consultation

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.

Draft guidelines for impacts of large-scale mining

The proposed changes to the Significant Impact Guidelines reflect the amended water trigger and cover unconventional gas and large coalmining developments, along with their potential impacts on water resources. Consultation closes on 14 June.

Future of income management

The Department of Social Services, in partnership with First Nations organisation ETM Perspectives (ETMP), is undertaking consultation to hear people’s views on the future of income management. Feedback is welcome until 14 June.

Review of Statement on Consumer and Community Involvement in Health and Medical Research

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia are collaborating to review the 2016 Statement on Consumer and Community Involvement in Health and Medical Research, which articulates the importance and benefits of consumer and community involvement in research and discusses a series of implementation issues. Submissions will be accepted until 16 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.

Application for Western Australian Pearl Oyster Fishery

The current export approval for the Western Australian Pearl Oyster Fishery expires on 30 May, 2025, and the fishery is undergoing assessment for ongoing export accreditation. The public consultation period for the assessment will be open until 5 July.

Release of draft Good Institutional Practice Guide

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has opened for consultation its draft guide, which aims to provide NHMRC-funded institutions and NHMRC-funded researchers with direction on good institutional practice to promote open, honest, supportive and respectful institutional cultures conducive to the conduct of high-quality research. Submissions close on 10 July.

Nation survey on telecommunications issues throughout regional Australia

The Federal Government has – for the first time – released its Regional Telecommunications Review survey, providing a way for regional, rural and remote Australians to easily give feedback on how they are experiencing telecommunications in their communities. The short online survey closes on 31 July.

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

Federal Parliament Public Hearings

Wednesday (5 June):

Inquiry into the challenges and opportunities within the Australian live music industry – Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts

Time: 12:45 – 1:30 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Committee Room 1R6, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Food and Beverage Manufacturing in Australia – House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources

Time: 8:30 – 9:30 am; Chamber: House; Location: Committee Room 1R5, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Budget Estimates:

Community Affairs Legislation

Time: 9 am – 10:30 pm (5 – 6 June); Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Economics Legislation

Time: 9 am – 10 pm (5 – 6 June); Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Education and Employment Legislation

Time: 9 am – 11 pm (5 June), 9 am – 10:15 pm (6 June); Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation

Time: 9 am – 10 pm (5 – 6 June); Chamber: Senate; Location: Main Committee Room (MCR), Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Cross-Portfolio Murray-Darling Basin Plan matters – Environment and Communications Legislation

Time: 9 am – 5 pm (7 June); Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

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