11 June 2024

The Water Cooler: Comings, goings, hearings and consultations

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

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Mellanie Hawke is a new senior assistant parliamentary counsel at the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

Treasury boss earns another five years in the top job

Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy will remain in the department’s top job for another five years.

The new appointment will kick in on 2 September when his current tenure expires.

Dr Kennedy was appointed Secretary of the Department of the Treasury on 2 September, 2019.

He was previously Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development from September 2017 to August 2019.

Smiling man in suit with numbers in background

Dr Steven Kennedy was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2016 for his outstanding contributions to climate change policy. Photo: Treasury.

New appointments to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) board

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King has announced two changes to the board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The board supports CASA’s vital functions to regulate the safety of civil air operations in Australian territory, as well as the operation of Australian aircraft outside our territory.

Existing board member Elizabeth Hallett has been appointed to the deputy chair role, while Adrian Verkerk joins as a new board member.

Ms Hallett is an experienced non-executive director on several government and commercial boards and has professional qualifications including a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Verkerk is an experienced and highly skilled former senior executive in the aviation industry, including at Qantas, with professional qualifications in aeronautical engineering.

Independent review of National Registration and Accreditation Scheme begins

Sue Dawson has begun work as the independent reviewer of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).

Established in 2009, the NRAS is a single regulatory model for registered health practitioners in Australia. In early 2023, the public raised concerns about inconsistent practices.

As a result, Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers agreed to an independent review of the NRAS. The review will look for complex or unnecessary processes within the NRAS.

woman in an office

NRAS reviewer Sue Dawson most recently held the position of New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commissioner. Photo: Law Society of NSW Journal.

States and Territories

Peta Stilgoe appointed president of QLD Land Court, with new member also named

Highly respected commercial litigation specialist and current Land Court member Peta Stilgoe OAM has been appointed president of the Land Court of Queensland.

President Stilgoe has been a member of the Land Court since 2017 and acting in the role of president since May 2023.

Prominent Brisbane barrister Nicholas Loos has been appointed as a full-time member of the court.

Member Loos, who was called to the bar in 2010, has built a distinguished career appearing in all courts in Queensland, particularly the Planning and Environment Court and Land Court.

two smiling women and a man at a function

Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth (left) welcomed Peta Stilgoe’s appointment as a member of the Land Court in 2017. Photo: Queensland Law Society.

Guugu Yimithirr man Dean Gibson appointed as chair of Queensland Theatre board

Filmmaker Dean Gibson has been made the new chair of the Queensland Theatre board, becoming the first Aboriginal person to hold the leadership position at the company.

Mr Gibson is a renowned filmmaker, storyteller and producer, with his Logie Award-winning work featured on the ABC, SBS and NITV, and has served on the Queensland Theatre board since May 2021.

Mr Gibson’s appointment follows Elizabeth Jameson’s decision to step down from the role on 25 May after 11 years of service.

The Queensland Theatre board also welcomes three new members – Stephanie Parkin, Christine Castley and Michael Dart – to work alongside Mr Gibson and existing members Tracey Barker, Liz Burcham, Associate Professor Stephen Carleton, Rachel Crowley and Susan Learmonth.

man and kids at AFL match

Mr Gibson also sits on the board of the Brisbane Lions AFL club as an expertise director. Photo: Brisbane Lions.

New chief executive for WorkCover Queensland

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has announced the appointment of Michael Pennisi as the new CEO of WorkCover Queensland.

WorkCover provides information and services for work health and safety and workers’ compensation in Queensland.

Mr Pennisi previously held roles as the CEO of QSuper, QInsure and QInvest. He also served as managing director of QIC Limited, and provides mentoring and coaching to CEOs and senior executives in varied sectors.

He moves into a position created by the retirement of Bruce Watson in February 2024 after seven years. Mr Watson led WorkCover through significant challenges, including the re-emergence of black lung disease and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Pennisi will take up his new role on 18 June.

Robyn Sermon made chair of WA’s Regional Development Council

Western Australia Regional Development Minister Don Punch has announced the appointment of Robyn Sermon as chair of the Regional Development Council.

Her appointment follows Tom Stephen’s 15-month tenure as acting chair of the council, an independent statutory advisory body providing advice to the Minister for Regional Development on all regional development issues.

The council consists of the Director-General of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and chairpersons from each of the state’s nine Regional Development Commissions.

a woman standing in front of a sign

Robyn Sermon has served as CEO of the Royal Agricultural Society of WA since early 2022. Photo: Gerard Daniels.

New WA Planning Commission appointed

Laws passed by Parliament late last year clarified the role of the WA Planning Commission as an expert adviser and independent decision-making body, and changed the membership to create a more strategically focused and contemporary board.

Bringing a wealth of decision-making and board experience across all parts of the state’s planning framework, six new members will join returning chairman David Caddy and continuing commission members – environmental scientist Helen Brookes and experienced urban planner and board member Jane Bennett.

The six new members appointed to the WAPC are:

  • Past commission member and former local government mayor Emma Cole, joining as deputy chairperson
  • Experienced urban planner, former Statutory Planning Committee and Development Assessment Panel member Megan Adair
  • Past president of the Planning Institute of Australia, respected planning consultant and former Development Assessment Panel presiding member Ray Haeren
  • Qualified engineer, experienced development professional and former Development WA board member Paul Lakey
  • Experienced regional urban planner Ryan Hall
  • Experienced urban planner, former local government councillor and Development Assessment Panel member Bianca Sandri.
New commissioners appointed to Tourism WA board

The WA Tourism organisation has welcomed new commissioners Rosanna Angus, Kristy Bailey, Andrew Lane, Caroline Taylor and Jason Waters to the board.

The Board of Commissioners is the governing body and accountable authority for Tourism WA and guides the strategy, objectives and performance targets for the agency.

Ms Angus is the owner of Oolin Sunday Island Cultural Tours and was recently named Australia’s Top Tourist Guide for her work in Broome.

Ms Bailey and Mr Lane have extensive experience working in the tourism and transport sectors through their roles at Swan River Seaplanes and SeaLink, while Ms Taylor brings a thorough understanding of WA’s food and wine industry from her work as a chef, business owner and hospitality consultant.

Mr Waters is the chief executive officer of Perth Airport and provides a global aviation and investment perspective to the role.

Along with the new appointments, board deputy chair Manny Papadoulis, commissioner Iain Grandage and commissioner Janelle Marr have all had their terms extended.

Expert panel appointed to strengthen disability support for WA students

The WA Government has appointed an expert panel to guide a review of the School Education Act 1999 and provide recommendations to strengthen access and inclusion for students with disability.

The panel’s initial task will be to examine what has already been shared by children, their families and educators through the numerous inquiries, research papers and reports that have been completed so far across Australia. The panel will also consider what can be learned from other jurisdictions within Australia, as well as overseas.

The panel will be chaired by Telethon Kids Institute autism researcher Professor Andrew Whitehouse, and include:

  • Leader of the Good Sammy charity Kane Blackman
  • Autistic, ADHD geriatrician at Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Healthcare Group Dr Sarah Bernard
  • Principal of Newman Senior High School Charmaine Ford
  • Senior government lawyer Catia Malaquias
  • Principal policy officer at the Department of Communities Maria Mansour
  • Principal of Mount Hawthorn Education Support Centre Anna Steel.
man standing in front of greenery

Professor Andrew Whitehouse is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute. Photo: Telethon Kids Institute.

WA Government names Curtin University as GreenTech Hub Operator

The WA Government has named Curtin University as the operator of the state’s new GreenTech Hub.

The hub, to be operated by Curtin University as a stand-alone facility, is funded as part of the agreement between the Cook Government and Chevron as operator of the Gorgon Joint Venture, a consortium including the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Osaka Gas, MidOcean, and JERA.

The GreenTech Hub will help build statewide capability and capacity in green technologies and services. It will also stimulate growth in skills and knowledge, and support the creation of jobs and developing new industries.

Tasmanian Secretary of Justice Department retiring

The Secretary of the Department of Justice in Tasmania, Ginna Webster, will retire from her role on 31 July.

Ms Webster is a long-term public servant, having worked in both the Commonwealth and Tasmanian state services for more than four decades. She served as Secretary of the Department of Communities in 2018 before returning to the Department of Justice as Secretary in September 2019.

Open for consultation

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 WA 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.

Improving crane licensing under the model WHS laws

Safe Work Australia is seeking feedback on six detailed proposals for changes that could be made to crane licensing to improve safety and ensure the licensing system keeps pace with changing work practices and technology. Submissions for the discussion paper are open until 31 July.

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

Federal Parliament Public Hearings

Thursday (13 June):

Treasury Laws Amendment (Delivering Better Financial Outcomes and Other Measures) Bill 2024 [Provisions] – Economics Legislation Committee

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

Excess Mortality – Community Affairs References Committee

Time: 10:15 am – 4:16 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Committee Room 2S3, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

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

Time: 9 am – 2 pm; Chamber: House; Location: Committee Room 3, Queensland Parliament, Cnr George and Alice streets, Brisbane, QLD.

Monday (17 June):

Right-wing extremist movements in Australia – Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee

Time: 9 am – 3:15 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Legislative Council Committee Room, Victoria Parliament, Spring St, Melbourne, Victoria.

Middle Arm Industrial Precinct – Environment and Communications References Committee

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

Tuesday (18 June):
Issues related to menopause and perimenopause – Community Affairs References Committee

Time: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm; Chamber: Senate; Location: Northcott Room (Level 4), Sydney Masonic Centre, 66 Goulburn St, Sydney, NSW.

Missing and murdered First Nations women and children – Legal and Constitutional Affairs References CommitteeTime: TBA; Chamber: Senate; Location: Melbourne, Victoria.

Protocol on the Accession of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and associated side-letters – Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Time: 12 – 12:40 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Committee Room 1R4, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

Amendments to Appendices I, II and III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Time: 12:40 – 2 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Committee Room 1R4, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT.

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