Teal independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps has highlighted the appointment of former head of the Department of Human Services Kathryn Campbell to a $900,000-per-year advisor role for AUKUS as an “egregious” example of the type of appointments she is targeting with her ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill.
Ms Campbell’s role at Human Services ended in 2017, and she subsequently held positions as Secretary of the Department of Social Services from September 2017 to July 2021, and as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade until July 2022.
She was appointed to the AUKUS role for a period of three years by the current government in July 2022.
In a 16 May media release, Dr Scamps claimed Ms Campbell’s appointment is “the exact opposite of what good governance, transparency and integrity looks like”, and pointed out she had been “formally parachuted into the role a week after it was created”.
Ms Campbell was one of four departmental secretaries ousted by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shortly after taking office as he sought to replace appointees of the previous government. She was appointed to her AUKUS role on the same day as her abridged DFAT tenure ended.
In a 22 June 2022 statement, Mr Albanese said Ms Campbell would conclude her Secretary role with effect from 1 July 2022, and thanked her for her “service to the Australian Public Service over many years”.
He said she had “brought great professionalism and deep experience to the range of roles”, adding that “Ms Campbell will be taking up a senior appointment in the Defence portfolio in an AUKUS-related role”.
Ms Campbell’s appointment was reportedly endorsed by Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty and approved by then-public service commissioner Peter Woolcott.
Dr Scamps’ release said, as a result of a Freedom of Information request from former independent Senator Rex Patrick, it was discovered that Ms Campbell’s role had not been publicly advertised, adding that, “we also know Ms Campbell has retained her $900,000-a-year salary from DFAT – a figure well above what someone could expect for this new role within the Department of Defence.”
Dr Scamps said the government has several questions to answer. “Why was the role not publicly advertised? What deal has been done to allow Ms Campbell to retain her $900,000-a-year salary from DFAT? Given Ms Campbell’s track record administering the robodebt scheme – is she the best person to provide advice on the AUKUS program?
“If ever there was evidence that the government should back my ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill and legislate a transparent and independent process for major Commonwealth public appointments, this is it,” she said.
She also questioned the government’s pre-election claims that they would restore integrity to politics. “The government cannot pick and choose when they would like to act with transparency and integrity,” she said. “The appointment of Ms Campbell makes it clear we cannot trust a government of either persuasion to implement a fair, transparent, and independent appointments process.”