Gig Guide: Higher ed shakeup and Barnaby’s return


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

There are changes at the top of Australia’s universities, with vice-chancellors on the move at UTS, UNSW, USYD and RMIT, while Barnaby Joyce’s return to deputy leadership brings a Nationals Cabinet reshuffle.

RMIT this week bid farewell to vice-chancellor and president, Professor Martin Bean, who left the technology school after six years but will return in a part time role later next year. Prof Bean will be replaced by RMIT chief operating officer Ms Dionne Higgins, who will act in an interim role as the search for Prof Bean’s successor continues.

Mr Bean is currently leading the federal government’s University-Industry Collaboration in Teaching and Learning Review, announced by Education Minister Alan Tudge last month and expected to provide a report by the end of August.

The Melbourne technology university also named Professor Brian Falzon as head of its new space hub. Prof Falzon is considered a global leader in aerospace technologies and will oversee the new hub, which was established with funding from the state government and support from industry partners SmartSat CRC, Amazon Web Service.

Former ABC managing director Mark Scott begins at the University of Sydney this month, where he will reportedly be paid $1 million a year for five years as the Sandstone’s 27th vice-chancellor, a $500,000 discount on one of his predecessors, Michael Spence.

The University of Sydney also announced one of its leading industrial relations researcher Professor Rae Cooper has been named as president-elect of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association, during the 54-year-old association’s World Congress, held in Sweden last month.

Perhaps the biggest higher education news is the announcement that Professor Attila Brungs will leave his job as president and Vice-Chancellor of the UTS to take the same role at his alma mater, UNSW.

“UNSW is one of the best-placed universities to partner with government and industry to drive the research commercialisation and translation agenda to help forge a bright future as we navigate the post-pandemic world, as well as meeting the skilling revolution Australian society needs,” Professor Brungs said.

He will take up the role in January next year, after more than a decade at UTS.

Outgoing RMIT vice-chancellor Martin Bean

In the public service, Joseph Buffone has been appointed first assistant secretary at the Department of Home Affairs. Mr Buffone had been director general of Emergency Management Australia since October last year.

Defence Housing Australia selected Katische Vinning as its new chief information officer.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) CEO Professor Andrew Campbell has had his term extended until 2023.

On Friday, Senator Bridget McKenzie was sworn into resurrected Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce’s new ministry.

Ms McKenzie returns to a “regionalisation” portfolio after being forced to stand down from cabinet over the 2019 ‘sports rorts’. She was rewarded for backing Mr Joyce in a leadership spill against then-Nationals leader Michael McCormack.

Mr McCormack heads to the backbench along with Daren Chester, Mark Coulton and Keith Pith, the later with the resources portfolio Mr Joyce has used in his rail against climate action.

“The dumping from the cabinet of resources highlights the hypocrisy of Barnaby Joyce,” said Opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

Mr Joyce also rewarded Andrew Gee, who will take the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio – the fifth minister to hold it in eight years – just as a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide gets underway.

In the private sector, PwC Australia has promoted its digital and technology operations director Tim Larcos to chief technology officer. Mr Larcos has been with the consulting giant for more than six years, including the last four in charge of its IT operations function and its 230 staff as director of operations.

Australian financial services technology firm TransAction Solutions announced the appointment of William Lam as its new group innovation director to its senior leadership team. Mr Lamas’ appointment follows the company’s acquisition of Experteq, a cloud, virtualisation, and workforce mobility services provider.

British based Global satellite consortium Inmarsat has appointed Frederik Gustavsson as chief strategy officer. While Mr Gustavsson will be based in London, the company said he will be working very closely with the ANZ operations team and Inmarsat’s VP of global government, Todd McDonnell, who’s based in Sydney.

Mr Gustavsson will contribute to the upcoming launch of Inmarsat’s i6 satellite, with the ground station for the launch set to be based in Australia, and on the company’s major tender with the Australian Defence Force

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