PM Transcripts - Prime Ministers of Australia

Departmental secretaries and statutory office-holders, Canberra

Prime Minister - Rudd, Kevin

Media Release - 13 August 2009

I am pleased to announce new arrangements for departmental secretaries and senior statutory office-holders which will take effect in the near future.

Ms Helen Williams AO, Secretary of the Department of Human Services, has indicated to me that she intends to retire from the Australian Public Service (APS). Ms Williams was the first woman appointed as Secretary of an Australian Government department. While she has held her current position since May 2007, she has been a Secretary or Secretary equivalent for over 20 years in such diverse portfolios as Communications and the Arts, Immigration, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Tourism, Transport and Education. She was Public Service Commissioner from 1998 to early 2002. Ms Williams rightly has a reputation as a highly committed and professional public servant who has made a significant contribution to public service in Australia. I am pleased that Ms Williams has indicated her willingness to accept part-time Government positions in the future. I pay tribute to her dedicated service and wish her well.

The position of Secretary of the Department of Human Services will be filled by Mr Finn Pratt PSM. Mr Pratt is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Centrelink and before that was an Associate Secretary in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. He has spent much of his career in labour market related activity and has a strong understanding of the link between policy and delivery. This experience, coupled with his expertise in leading a major service delivery agency, will be invaluable in his new role. Centrelink's Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Customer Service, Ms Carolyn Hogg, will act as Chief Executive Officer pending the appointment of Mr Pratt's successor.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Stephen Smith MP, will recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of Mr Nick Warner PSM as Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). Mr Warner will leave his current position as Secretary of the Department of Defence. Mr Warner's accomplishments during his time at Defence are significant and include the production of the recent Defence White Paper and accompanying force structure, a $20 billion savings program and a wide-ranging reform program. Prior to being appointed as Secretary of Defence, Mr Warner held a number of senior positions in Australia and overseas, including Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the position of Director-General at a time when the Government is faced with a growing need for timely and accurate intelligence. I am confident that Mr Warner's depth of experience will serve the Government well, not only in his role as Director-General of ASIS, but in other international roles as required by the Government from time to time.

Dr Ian Watt AO, currently the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, will become the Secretary of the Department of Defence. Dr Watt was first appointed as a Secretary in 2001 in the Communications portfolio and moved to the Finance Department early in 2002. Since that time he has overseen a significant strengthening of the department's capacity to support government, particularly in the preparation of the Budget. Dr Watt's experience and achievements will see him well placed to tackle the challenges of his new role.

Mr David Tune PSM will become the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Mr Tune has worked in the APS for around 30 years and is currently an Associate Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet with responsibility for the Domestic Policy Group. Mr Tune has previously held a number of senior positions in both central and line agencies with a social policy focus and brings extensive public sector experience and expertise to his new position.

The Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan MP, will recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of Ms Patricia Scott as a full time Commissioner in the Productivity Commission. Ms Scott will bring extensive experience in human services to the Commission, and her appointment will enhance the Commission's capacity to advise the Government on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of human services provision. In addition to her extensive policy experience in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, she was instrumental in the successful establishment of the Department of Human Services following her appointment as the first Secretary of that department in October 2004. Ms Scott has also acquired services related experience in her more recent role as Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The new program of Productivity Commission work on human services will draw on COAG initiated research by the Productivity Commission demonstrating the significant potential benefits to the community of investment in education, health and related human services, while acknowledging the heightened need for cost-effective spending by all governments in the years ahead. It is envisaged that a series of projects spanning the life cycle of human services will be developed. With the imperatives of an ageing population, particular attention will focus on human services that promote participation and productivity of the labour force. The Government will also shortly provide a reference to the Productivity Commission to hold a public inquiry into aged care in Australia. This inquiry will examine the needs of Australia's aged persons for the next 20 years and look at appropriate standards and funding arrangements to secure the best outcomes from aged care services. The Commission's report will help the Government assess options for further advancing the long term agenda in human service areas vital to community wellbeing.

Mr Peter Harris will become the Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Mr Harris is currently the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment where he is responsible for Victoria's largest current public infrastructure project. He has extensive public policy experience, having held several executive Commonwealth roles including Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services. Mr Harris has the requisite experience and skills to lead his new department in its dealings with complex policy issues, such as telecommunications reform, vital to Australia's long-term national interest.

Mr Michael L'Estrange AO will be leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade after more than four and a half years as Secretary of the Department. During this period Mr L'Estrange has led the department with distinction under successive Governments. His leadership has guided the department through a period of significant complexity across Australia's trade and foreign policy agenda, including in the areas of regional and global engagement, trade negotiations and consular crisis response. The Government wishes to retain Mr L'Estrange in another senior position. Discussions with Mr L'Estrange about this senior position in government to which he may wish to accept appointment are proceeding.

Mr Dennis Richardson AO will become the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Currently Australia's Ambassador to the United States, he has a public service career spanning forty years. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador he held the position of Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for almost nine years. He has served in various senior public service roles in the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Immigration. His depth of foreign policy experience, and understanding of international relations, will serve him well in his new appointment. The Government will announce in due course the appointment of a new Ambassador to the United States.

Mr Andrew Metcalfe has been reappointed as Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. I appreciate Mr Metcalfe's continuing contribution in this important role.

The Public Service Commissioner, Ms Lynelle Briggs, will be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Medicare Australia. Ms Briggs, who was a Deputy Secretary in the then Department of Transport and Regional Services prior to her appointment as Commissioner, has been a passionate advocate for the public service and has championed the role of the APS in a modern democracy. I am grateful for her contribution. I am considering who will be appointed as Public Service Commissioner. In the meantime, the Deputy Public Service Commissioner, Ms Carmel McGregor, will act as Public Service Commissioner.

Ms Philippa Godwin will take up the position of Head of the Child Support Agency at the Department of Human Services, as Deputy Secretary, Child Support and Planning. Ms Godwin brings significant service delivery and policy experience to her new role. She has been Acting Chief Executive Officer at Medicare Australia since November 2008, having joined that agency as Deputy Chief Executive Officer in August 2005. Prior to taking up her appointment at Medicare Australia, Ms Godwin was a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs from 2002 to 2005, having commenced with that department in 1989. She also has extensive experience at the regional and State office level in Commonwealth and State Government departments.

In line with our election commitment, all appointments will be for a period of five years.