16 April 2024

The Water Cooler: Comings, goings, grants and consultations

| James Day
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Three images compiled together: two defence force officers and a woman

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

The Big Moves


Former Defence Chief appointed to investigate Israeli drone strike that killed Aussie aid worker

Former Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin (Ret’d), has been appointed to serve as a special adviser to the government on Israel’s response to its drone strikes, which killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers two weeks ago.

The drone strike by the Israel Defense Forces killed Australian aid worker Zomi Frankcom and six colleagues as they were travelling in three clearly marked WCK vehicles along the Gaza coastline on 1 April.

air force officer

Former Chief of the Defence Force, ACM Mark Binskin (Ret’d), also led the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. Photo: ADF.

Government announces David Johnston as next Chief of the Defence Force

The Federal Government has announced that the current Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Vice-Admiral David Johnston, will be promoted to Admiral and will replace General Angus Campbell as the new Chief of the Australian Defence Force (CDF) from July.

The move is one of many as the armed services’ senior leadership moves around to fill new roles.

The current Chief of Air Force, Air Marshall Robert Chipman, will move into the Vice-Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) role, while the air force’s current Head of Military Strategic Commitments, Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Chappell, will be promoted to Air Marshal and take over as Chief of Air Force (CAF).

The Chief of Army (CA), Lieutenant General Simon Stuart, and Chief of Navy (CN), Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, will remain in their current roles for a further two years.

The current Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, will retire and be replaced by his deputy, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, who will be promoted to Vice Admiral.

Similarly, the Chief of Joint Capabilities (CJC), Lieutenant General John Frewen, will also retire and be replaced by the current Commander of Army’s Forces Command, Major General Susan Coyle, who will be promoted to Lieutenant General.

The Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lieutenant General Gavan Reynolds, will also retire and be replaced by a civilian appointment yet to be named.

David Johnston

Vice Admiral David Johnston will be the new Chief of the Defence Force. Photo: ADF.

States and Territories

Lisa Carmody has been appointed deputy director of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD).

A controversial move with the CPSU having described Ms Carmody’s role in the Robodebt scandal as “significant” and raising concerns about her appointment to a role that “liaises constantly” with trade unions.

Woman giving evidence at a royal commission

Lisa Carmody giving evidence at the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme. Photo: Screenshot.

NSW’s highest-paid public servant resigns from crisis-riddled government insurer

Richard Harding, the CEO of NSW Government insurance agency icare, has announced his resignation after three years working for the embattled organisation.

Mr Harding, who earned more than $1 million in 2022-23, is the highest-paid public servant in NSW.

He will step down from the roles of CEO and managing director in October, telling staff on Wednesday (10 April) of his plans to engage in more roles like his recent appointment to the board of Ansvar Australia.

smiling man in office

Richard Harding took over the CEO role from John Nagle. Photo: icare.

First woman to be appointed as Chief Judge of the NSW District Court

The first woman Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW is Supreme Court Justice Sarah Huggett.

Before her appointment to the Supreme Court in 2023, Justice Huggett served on the NSW District Court Bench for 12 years and presided over many high-profile and complex matters, including the trial of convicted murderer Christopher Dawson.

Joining her as a judge on the bench is NSW Local Court Magistrate Ross Hudson, where he has served since 2015. Magistrate Hudson has been a member of the Local Court Education Committee for the past six years and served as president of the NSW Magistrates’ Association.

New appointment to chair of Victoria’s Post Sentence Authority

Felicity Hampel AM SC will serve as the new chair of the Post Sentence Authority, which has operated since early 2018 as part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Complex Adult Victorian Sex Offender Management Review Panel.

smiling woman

Felicity Hampel previously served as a judge of the County Court of Victoria and vice-president of the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) before retiring in June 2023. Photo: Judicial College of Victoria.

Interim CEO of WorkSafe Victoria appointed permanently

Joe Calafiore is the new CEO of WorkSafe Victoria, leading the organisation as it modernises the scheme, giving security to workers and businesses who use it and making sure the system is sustainable for years to come.

smiling man in suit

Before his appointment, Joe Calafiore served as CEO of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) from 2015 to 2023, before which he held senior roles in its community and corporate affairs divisions. Photo: TAC.

Auxiliary Judge appointed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia

Attorney-General John Quigley has announced the appointment of Justice Jennifer Smith as an Auxiliary Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

Justice Smith will begin the 12-month term following her mandatory retirement as a Judge of the Supreme Court in June. Since 2017 she has presided there, with a focus on civil trials regarding commercial matters.

woman at lectern

During her career, Justice Jennifer Smith has lectured in constitutional law for the Barristers Board (now Legal Practice Board) and given papers on employment and industrial law. Photo: Law Access.

APS Senior Executive Service

Band 1

The Australian Taxation Office has appointed Deanna Sari as the new assistant commissioner of advice and guidance.

Jane Stuart has been promoted to assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Band 2

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has promoted Gita Kamath to first assistant secretary.

Grants Programs

Forecast track map of ex-tropical cyclone

Disaster assistance is now available for the Halls Creek local government area following the impact of ex-tropical cyclone Lincoln and flooding that occurred from 19 to 25 February. Photo: BoM.


Play Our Way grants

The Federal Government has opened applications for its $200 million Play Our Way grant program, which hopes to provide local communities with more welcoming and equitable means for women and girls to participate in sport. Two streams (Facilities, Participation and equipment) are available until 29 April.

New South Wales

Recovery support for flood-affected communities

Disaster assistance is now available in the Blue Mountains, Camden, Hawkesbury, Kiama, Liverpool, Penrith, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Sutherland, Upper Lachlan, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly, Wollongong, Blacktown, Byron Bay, Central Coast, Clarence Valley, Dungog, Gwydir, Hornsby, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Oberon, The Hills and Yass Valley local government areas following the impact of flooding from 1 April, 2024.

Support includes grants for replacing essential household items, structural repairs, freight subsidies for primary producers, concessional interest rate loans, emergency accommodation, and restoring damaged essential public assets.

To apply for a concessional loan or primary producer grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit Ruralthe Assistance Authority.

Further information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at Disaster Assist.

Net-zero manufacturing initiative

The State Government has released $275 million in grants to support the creation of renewable manufacturing, clean-technology innovation, and low-carbon product manufacturing. Applications have been open since 26 February.

Recording and promotion grants

Some $1 million has been made available by Sound NSW to support the state’s contemporary musicians to record and release new, original creative projects. Applications close on 17 April.

Touring and travel fund

Sound NSW has unveiled $2 million in funding to address the time-sensitive nature of venue availability and performance opportunities – $25,000 per person for domestic activity and up to $7500 per person for international activity can be applied for until 20 May.


Port Phillip Bay fund

The latest round of grants supporting projects that protect the health of Port Phillip Bay’s environment has opened up $2.3 million in funding. Grants from $25,000 to $300,000 are available, depending on the size of the project, until 18 April.

Multicultural festivals and events program

A new round opens up $2.4 million in funding for community events promoting multiculturalism and building social cohesion. Up to $50,000 can be applied for until 19 April.

Cat management strategy trial program

This is a $300,000 effort where local councils can apply for grants of up to $25,000 to deliver desexing services to target areas with problem cat populations, or those who may be experiencing financial hardship. Feedback on the state’s cat management strategy closes on 26 April.

Local environmental projects

Environmental volunteer groups can now access up to $20,000 for on-ground works and community-based projects focused on preserving native vegetation and wildlife, waterways, wetlands, soils and other natural habitats and ecosystems. Applications for the program will close on 30 April.

Live Music Festival and Gig Funds

Grants of up to $50,000 have been made available through a new Live Music Festivals Fund, for organisers looking to stage new or existing events in the state. The government has also unveiled a Gig Fund, whereby live-music venues can apply for grants of up to $10,000 to put towards artists’ fees for playing there. Applications for each open on 22 April and close on 17 May.


Bike Riding Encouragement Program

The second round of a grants program encouraging fresh ideas on ways to get more people to ride bikes for transport, recreation and wellbeing has opened. Grants of up to $25,000 are available for community groups, not-for-profits and for-profit organisations, along with local governments collaborating with said entities, until 24 May.

Western Australia

Recovery support for East Kimberley communities impacted by ex-tropical cyclone Lincoln

Disaster assistance is now available for the Halls Creek local government area following the impact of ex-tropical cyclone Lincoln and flooding that occurred from 19 to 25 February.

Support includes grants for personal hardship, financial counselling, counter-disaster operations, essential public assets, and interest rate subsidies to small businesses and primary producers (including freight subsidies for the latter).

For information on eligibility and application, visit the WA Department of Fire & Emergency Services.

School funding for Aboriginal reconciliation

A total of $799,000 in grants has been opened up to school and kindergarten projects that advance and promote Aboriginal reconciliation in the community. The Partnership Acceptance Learning Sharing (PALS) program offers grants of up to $3000 over two years for initiatives that encourage education on Indigenous histories, languages and cultures. Its current round of funding closes on 8 May.

Electronic identification system infrastructure grants

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to help sheep and goat supply chain operators transition to the new mandatory national electronic eID system. Applications close on 17 May.

Feral cat management grants

Grants between $10,000 and $250,000 are available for projects with specific measures to reduce the impact of feral cats in priority areas so they improve conservation outcomes for native fauna. Applications remain open until 20 May.

Community Stewardship Grants for natural resource management initiatives

Grants of up to $450,000 are available under the 2024 Community Stewardship Grants, tasked with supporting natural resource management initiatives that protect and restore Western Australia’s environment. Applications close on 20 May.

Keep Australia Beautiful Council’s community litter grants

Grants of up to $10,000 are available for initiatives and projects that incorporate education, improvements to infrastructure and littering enforcement. Applications for this latest round are open until 20 May.

Student Assistance Payments

Families with school-age children can apply for hundreds of dollars in financial support to help with the extra costs associated with their children’s education. Each secondary student can receive $250, while primary and kindergarten students may be given $150 each. Claims can be made through the ServiceWA app until 28 June.

Grants for registered community housing providers

Up to $50 million in grants is available under a submissions process looking to increase the supply and diversity of new and refurbished community housing across regional areas. Submissions are open until 16 September.

South Australia

Space Collaboration and Innovation Fund

Two grants of up to $100,000 each will be available to South Australian-based start-ups or SMEs in collaboration with at least one international partner organisation committed to developing NewSpace technology. Registration for an information session on 23 April is open now, but applications close on 17 May.


Winter event marketing grants

A total of $100,000 has been committed to a program looking to boost Tasmania’s winter event season. Between $5000 and $10,000 is available to event organisers for increasing their marketing activities, specifically targeting interstate visitors. Applications are open until 1 May.

Northern Territory

Geophysics and drilling collaborations competitive grants program

The Territory Government will allocate up to $3 million from the $9.5 million available to co-fund projects that address geoscientific knowledge gaps, advance exploration activity, and support the discovery and development of resources. Applications for the new round are open until 29 April.

Visitor experience grants for tourism industry

The Territory’s tourism industry can access up to $100,000 for upgrading on-ground experiences for tourists that will drive growth in its economy. Submissions remain open until 7 May.

Open for consultation

A screenshot of ALS interpreter

The Commonwealth has opened up consultation on its draft National Autism Strategy, for which submissions close on 31 May. Photo: Department of Social Services.

Draft National Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) Framework

The Federal Government has released its draft National OECMs Framework, which includes its target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of land by 2030. Feedback is open until 17 April.

ACMA’s draft plan for management of nation’s spectrum

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published its draft plan for the management of Australia’s wireless communications frequencies that carry mobile data, satellite transmissions and broadcast signals. Submissions close on 22 April.

Electricity and Energy Sector Plan discussion paper

The Federal Government is developing an Electricity and Energy Sector Plan to support its Net Zero Plan. Submissions will be accepted until 26 April.

Veterans’ legislation reform

The Defence Department has released exposure draft legislation that hopes to simplify the century-old veterans’ entitlements, compensation and rehabilitation system. Submissions remain open until 28 April.

Future national water agreement

A new intergovernmental agreement on water has been proposed to build on the management principles established in the National Water Initiative (NWI), created in 2004. Submissions close on 3 May.

Proposed offshore wind area: Indian Ocean off Bunbury, WA

The Federal Government is seeking feedback on a proposed offshore wind area in the Indian Ocean off Bunbury, Western Australia. Consultation closes on 3 May.

Otway offshore gas Victoria project proposal

Australia’s offshore energy regulator has opened up comment on Beach Energy’s project to be located 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.

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.

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.

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

Federal Parliament Public Hearings

Wednesday (17 April):

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

Time: 9 am – 3:30 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Maidstone Community Centre, 21 Yardley St, Maribyrnong, VIC.

Australia’s extinction crisis – Environment and Communications References Committee

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

Australia’s preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic Games – Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee

Time: 8:30 am – 5:10 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Leichhardt Room, Hotel Grand Chancellor, 23 Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane, QLD.

Inquiry into Australia’s tourism and international education sectors – Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Time: 9:15 am – 5 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Dining Room, Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, 15 Mitchell Street, Darwin, NT.

Northern Australia Workforce Development – Joint Committee on Northern Australia

Time: 9 am – 5 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Pullman Cairns International, Bluewater 1 Room, 17 Abbott Street, Cairns, QLD.

Thursday (18 April):

Treasury Laws Amendment (Better Targeted Superannuation Concessions and Other Measures) Bill 2023 and a related bill [Provisions] – Economics Legislation Committee

Time: TBA; Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Missing and murdered First Nations women and children – Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee

Time: 10 am – 5 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Darrandirra Child and Family Centre, 16 Malak Crescent, Malak, NT.

NDIS participant experience in rural, regional and remote Australia – Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Time: 9 am – 5:30 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Oaks Broome Hotel, 99 Robinson Street, Broome, WA.

Northern Australia Workforce Development – Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia

Time: 9 am – 1:15 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Pullman Cairns International, Bluewater 1 Room, 17 Abbott Street, Cairns, QLD.

Friday (19 April):

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

Time: 9:30 am – 2 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Heathcote RSL Hall, 127 High St, Heathcote, VIC.

Inquiry into the failed visa privatisation process and the implementation of other public sector IT procurements and projects – Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

Time: 1 – 3:30 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Inquiry into Commonwealth Financial Statements 2022-23 – Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

Time: 10 am – 1 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Cyclone Reinsurance Pool – Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia

Time: 10 am – 3 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Terrace Room, Hotel Grand Chancellor Brisbane, 23 Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill, QLD.

Monday (22 April):

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

Time: 8:30 am – 5 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: 1R0, Main Committee Room, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Greenwashing – Environment and Communications References Committee

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

Tuesday (23 April):

Agriculture (Biosecurity Protection) Levies Bill 2024 [Provisions] and related bills – Rural and Regional Affairs Transport Legislation Committee

Time: TBA; Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Treasury Laws Amendment (Financial Market Infrastructure and Other Measures) Bill 2024 [Provisions] – Economics Legislation Committee

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

Net Zero Economy Authority Bill 2024 and the Net Zero Economy Authority (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2024 [Provisions] – Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

Time: TBA; Chamber: Senate; Location: Senate Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Department of Defence – Facilities to Support Advanced Growler Phase 6 – Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works

Time: 12 – 12:30 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: TBA, Springfield, QLD.

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