17 May 2023

Sophie Scamps’ ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill targets Kathryn Campbell’s AUKUS appointment

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Dr Sophie Scamps

Teal independent Dr Sophie Scamps tabled the ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill in March and hopes it will help create a more transparent process for recruiting important public positions. Photo: Facebook.

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”.

Kathryn Campbell

Kathryn Campbell was appointed to the AUKUS advisor role in July 2022 after her tenure at DFAT ended. Photo: DFAT.

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.

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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.”

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I agree with Dr Scamps and want to see who was responsible for putting her on the AUKUS job and have them sacked.

HiddenDragon7:17 pm 18 May 23

The retention of Campbell, in spite of all the huffing and puffing in her direction from Labor and its allies in the media and elsewhere, is such an interesting twist in the murky waters of Canberra.

Two fairly big ifs, but if she survives the Robodebt inquiry and if the Coalition gets back into power somewhat sooner than currently seems likely, a rehabilitated Campbell could turn out to be a surprise appointment as head of PM&C (particularly if Mr Pezzullo has retired by that time).

Frederick Burman5:03 pm 18 May 23

Good on the Teals for trying to clean up political “dirty tricks”.

How come there has been no reporting on the Ambassador positions filled by ex-politicians – thinking Rudd in Washington and Smith in London etc? Will this Bill prevent this nepotism.

Sounds like a Teal “let’s remove mates appointments”, meanwhile manoeuvring for mates of our own to appoint” Shhhh

Ummm OK, FP – I’ll take the bait.

Perhaps you can explain how a cross-bench independent is going to appoint one of their mates to an APS executive position? Cynicism is one thing but your unbridled partisanship just looks foolish.

JS, you are right, the Teals have no power as their voting block is outnumbered, but who knows what they can slime their way into with coalition MPs quitting faster than my typing

FP – except Coalition MPs quitting only serves to reduce the power of Teals if Labor wins the bi-election … otherwise no impact 🙂

Particularly galling is the fact that an SES Band 3 appointment (which is what she has been contracted to do) usually attracts an annual salary for approximately $450k, yet Campbell’s appointment comes with an annual salary of $900k!

The appointment of Campbell was a smart move by the Government. Means she’s not on “gardening leave” and is having to do a job for the money they would have to pay her anyway. It’s just a straight transfer. Perhaps Ms Scamp can do Government 101 and learn this stuff? And as part of that training perhaps she could understand that if the Government decides to sack her they’ll have to pay her contract out. So that’s lots of dollars for no work …

Exactly right hgo7627! Kathryn Campbell has always been a hangover that Labor inherited!

Yeah Jack D, how about the government appoint one of it’s CMFEU mates, you know, someone with experience at running a big government agency. No? Alright then, someone who was a shop steward, with experience in striking over lack of chocolate ice cream in the staff canteen. Tick

Wow Futureproof that is a bit out of the blue! I am a bit unsure where to start with your rant!
I have no affiliations with the CFMMEU nor are they any of my mates!

William Newby8:23 pm 23 May 23

How smart they just doubled her salary. She was not so good with that robo debt thing and at dfat I couldn’t point my finger to a single thing she delivered.

Seems like a good bill but it will be interesting to see how it works in principle.

“… a more transparent process for recruiting important public positions” doesn’t necessarily mean the best person for the job will be selected – there are ways of ‘writing up the result’ to effect the desired (from the government of the day’s perspective) outcome.

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