Plenty of shake-ups in the Australian Public Service (APS) have occurred in the last few months. From the continuing Independent Capabilities Review announced by Minister for the Public Service, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher in October 2022, to the Public Service Amendment Bill 2023 currently before the Senate, the APS is undergoing a transitional period to ensure it’s equipped to cater to contemporary needs.

Amongst all of this, several figures have been taking on highly influential roles in Australian public policy in the last few months.

The team at Nexus APAC has compiled a list of key Commonwealth departmental movements since the start of this financial year.

Department of Home Affairs

Air Marshal Darren Goldie AM CSC has been appointed as Australia’s first Cyber Security Coordinator in the National Office of Cyber Security (NOCS).

  • NOCS was set up as part of the 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy.
  • Air Marshal Goldie leads National Cyber Security Policy, the coordination of responses to major cyber incidents, whole of government cyber incident preparedness efforts and strengthening of Commonwealth cyber security, according to the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, Minister for Home Affairs.

Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC)

Ms Penny Shakespeare, current Deputy Secretary in Health Resourcing, has been appointed by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) as a supplementary reviewer into the conduct of former agency heads in response to the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.

Ms Melinda Turner has been appointed as First Assistant Secretary, First Nations Health Division of the DoHAC.

  • Ms Turner is a Yuin/Monaro woman with over 20 years’ experience working in government on First Nations-specific policies and programs and over four years at the Department.

Mr Travis Haslam PSM has been appointed as First Assistant Secretary of the Office for Sport, Department of Health and Aged Care.

  • Mr Turner has over eight years’ experience at DoHAC and was employed at the Australian Sports Commission for over 11 years.

Mr Nicholas Henderson has been appointed as First Assistant Secretary of the Medicines Regulations Division within the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA).

  • Mr Henderson was formerly Chief Budget Officer in Private Health Insurance and previously served as Assistant Secretary for Pharmaceutical Policy within the Department.

Professor Mark Cormack has been appointed to lead the Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce review, as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.

  • As former Deputy Secretary of Health Financing and Deputy Secretary of Strategic Policy and Innovation for the Department of Health, Professor Cormack is a seasoned public servant. Professor Cormack was also the CEO of Health Workforce Australia.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Mr Adam Fennessy PSM has been appointed as the Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

  • Mr Fennessy commences in the position on 18 September, following the retirement of Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO.
  • Mr Fennessy has more than 25 years of public sector experience at state and federal levels, most recently as the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner. He has also served as the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries. He has spent ten years living in regional Victoria amongst primary production communities.

Department of Defence

Dr Paul Robards has been appointed Chief Data Integration Officer.

  • Dr Robards will oversee the half-a-billion-dollar OneDefence Data Program, replacing Dr Maria Milosavljevic. He has worked at the Department for more than 24 years, as well as served in the Australian Army since 1989.

Former Defence Deputy Secretary and former Australian ambassador to Russia and Germany Mr Peter Tesch, and former ACCC chair Mr Graeme Samuel will lead a review of the Defence Controls Act 2012.

Department of Treasury

The Hon Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Treasurer of Australia, has announced that the Treasury is in the process of selecting its next Commissioner of Taxation.

  • Mr Chris Jordan AO announced that he would retire as Tax Commissioner at the end of his decade-long term in February 2024.

Those speculated to be in the running for the role include:

  • Mr Jeremy Hirschhorn, Second Commissioner – Client Engagement, ATO;
  • Ms Kirsten Fish, Second Commissioner – Law Design and Practice, ATO;
  • Mr David Bradbury, Deputy Director, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Admin; and
  • Ms Karen Payne, Inspector-General of Taxation & Taxation Ombudsman.

Honourable Mention – the Reserve Bank of Australia

The Reserve Bank may not be part of the APS, but this change is worth noting. Ms Michele Bullock will be the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, replacing Philip Lowe.

  • On 18 September 2023, Mr Lowe will pass the baton on to the Central Bank’s first female Governor, Ms Bullock.
  • After seven years as Governor and over 40 years at the organisation, Mr Lowe used his final board meeting to leave the cash rate unchanged for a third month at 4.10%. During his term, Australia recorded the biggest quarterly fall in economic output since the Great Depression. It also recorded its single-largest quarter of growth since the mid-1970s.
  • Ms Bullock is the first woman to be appointed as Australia’s Reserve Bank Governor. For more information on her appointment, see Nexus’ insights from July.