7 October 2022

PM&C Dep Sec gets a new Home - and more APS news bites from your hound on the ground

| Mr Smiggle
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A little dig with a huge overbite

Mr Smiggle – head of HR at Region – and your hound on the ground. Image: Region.

I’ve been out and about again, sniffing around for some great public service yarns for you all. I’m not one to gossip, but here are this week’s juicy bits. Please enjoy these latest APS news snippets.

Time to Foster new ideas at Home Affairs

Stephanie Foster PSM has a new role, and it’s no longer in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

You heard it here first.

The senior public servant (all the way to deputy secretary in PM&C) is now Associate Secretary, Immigration at the Department of Home Affairs.

That’s a massive move. An Associate Secretary is a very senior and powerful position with specific responsibilities. She will run all policy for immigration in the department.

She hasn’t quite taken Mike Pezzullo’s top job as secretary, but she’s sure moved in on some of his turf.

Stephanie Foster

Stephanie Foster will be making herself at Home. Photo: PMC.

Ms Foster was the acting secretary for PM&C when Phil Gaetjens left the department upon the election of Anthony Albanese. She did the handover to Glyn Davis when he was appointed secretary.

A career public servant, Ms Foster has previously been a deputy commissioner at the Australian Public Service Commission and a deputy secretary of other departments.

She gained some notoriety in October last year when, after answering a question in senate estimates about former attorney-general Christian Porter, she appeared to wink to her right at the then finance minister Simon Birmingham.

Outrageous! A public servant winking at the minister as though she was doing his bidding?

Turns out she was winking at a departmental colleague who had just joined her at the table.

Word is, she’s just what Home Affairs needs.

Casting about for Comcare

Looks like the big bosses at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations have been taking note of my previous messages and are finally moving over the vacancy at Comcare.

Since I brought to everyone’s attention that the chief executive officer role at Comcare has been vacant for some time (since April, in fact), DEWR has put together a position vacant ad for the top gig at the federal government statutory authority.

It’s a full-time statutory appointment for up to five years, based in Canberra or Melbourne.

While the Remuneration Tribunal will determine the salary package, the position currently attracts a total remuneration of $427,120 per annum.

That’s a pretty good package. I wonder if Comcare’s acting CEO Aaron Hughes will apply?

He and all other contenders will have to be quick – applications close on 23 October.

New digs for drowned departments

Speaking of DEWR – they, along with the Department of Education and the Australian Electoral Commission, will be out of 50 Marcus Clarke Street, 10 Mort Street and other far-flung locations across the ACT and into a new 11-storey office block in Civic … once it’s been built.

A 15-year lease will be taken up from mid-2026 for new headquarters to be built on Block 40, Section 100 City, which is currently the big car park next to the ACT Supreme Court.

It’s just as well because 50 Marcus Clarke is prone to flooding and water sprinkler malfunctions (as reported here by your hound on the ground).

Staff in the building have been locked out since early August while massive water damage repairs are ongoing. They’re supposed to be allowed back in a couple of weeks. I’ll believe it when I smell it.

Justine to play Julia

Justine Clarke and Julia Gillard

Justine Clarke to play Julia Gillard. Photo: Rene Vaile; Samuel Cooper, National Library of Australia.

October 9 marks the tenth anniversary of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech.

I was there on that day a decade ago, sitting above her in the Parliamentary Press Gallery (smiggled in again), witnessing history being made.

It was quite a moment and a riveting speech.

First, we had the speech, then this week we had news of the opus, and now we have the play.

Canberra Theatre has announced it’s joined forces with Sydney Theatre Company to co-produce the world premiere of Julia.

Starring Australia’s much-loved actress Justine Clarke from Play School (and, of course, a whole bunch of other acclaimed television and movie roles – I liked her in Red Dog: True Blue), Julia delves into the life and career of Julia Gillard in the lead up to the famous speech.

It opens in Canberra next March.

Smiggle out.

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