Australian civil service chiefs in major reshuffle

By on 15/09/2017 | Updated on 27/01/2022
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Barton, Australia. Picture: Bidgee

The departure of two departmental heads has led to a significant reshuffle at the top of the civil service in Australia, with most departments getting new bosses.

The shake-up was due to the resignations of Dr Gordon de Brouwer as the secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy, and Martin Bowles as the secretary of the Department of Health.

De Brouwer is to be replaced by the secretary of the Department of Social Services, Finn Pratt, while Bowles’ post will be filled by Glenys Beauchamp, currently secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

These appointments have lead to other movements, the prime minister’s office said.

Domino effect

Amongst these are Dr Heather Smith’s move from the Department of Communications and the Arts to become secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Her post at the communications department will be taken by Mike Mrdak, who will transfer from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The infrastructure department will instead be headed by Dr Steven Kennedy, who is to be promoted from his current position as a deputy secretary overseeing innovation and transformation in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Kennedy has led work on cities, regulatory reform, public data and digital innovation, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. He has previously been a deputy secretary in four other departments: Industry, Innovation and Science; Environment; Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Kathryn Campbell will move from her post as secretary of the Department of Human Services to become secretary of the Department of Social Services. She will be replaced by Renée Leon, who will leave her role as secretary at the Department of Employment.

To fill Leon’s role, Kerri Hartland is to be promoted to secretary in the Department of Employment. She has spent five years in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, where she was the first woman to become deputy director general. She has also previously been deputy secretary in the departments of human services and finance.

The secretaries will take up their new posts on 18 September and are appointed for five years.

New department takes shape

Finally, the government has announced Michael Pezzullo as secretary designate for the emerging Department of Home Affairs. The intention to create the department was announced in July, as part of a major overhaul of Australia’s national intelligence and domestic security arrangements.

The home affairs portfolio will cover immigration, border protection, and domestic security and law enforcement agencies. The department’s set up will be similar to the UK’s Home Office, according to the prime minister’s office.

It will provide strategic planning, coordination and other support to a ‘federation’ of autonomous security and law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The department and other changes are due to be in place by early 2018.

About Catherine Early

Catherine is a journalist and editor specialising in government policy and regulation. She writes predominantly about environmental issues and has held permanent roles at the Environmentalist (now known as Transform), the ENDS Report, Planning magazine and Windpower Monthly, and has also written for the Guardian, the Ecologist and China Dialogue. She was a finalist in the Guardian’s International Development Journalism competition 2009, and was part of the team that won PPA Business Magazine of the Year 2011 for Windpower Monthly. She also won an outstanding content award at Haymarket Media Group’s employee awards for data-led stories in Planning magazine. She holds a 2:1 honours degree in English language and literature from Birmingham University.

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