Gig Guide: Productivity Commission chair to stand down

Brandon How

Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan will not seek reappointment when his five-year term ends in September, with a merit-based recruitment process underway to find a replacement.

Mr Brennan was appointed chair in September 2018, having previously served as Commonwealth Treasury fiscal group deputy secretary and Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance economic deputy secretary.

During his tenure, Mr Brennan oversaw the publication of the most recent productivity review and is currently working on the first review of progress on implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Friday thanked Mr Brennan for his “commitment and significant contributions to the Commission’s work”.

Mr Chalmers is seeking to reform the Productivity Commission, which has been criticised for being ineffectual. The Treasurer highlighted in his ‘Capitalism after the crises’ essay earlier this year that he would seek to “renew and revitalised the Productivity Commission”.

Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan. Image: PwC

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh has been reappointed for another five years. He first entered the role in 2018, having previously served as associate commissioner between 2016 and 2018.

Prior to joining the ACCC, Mr Keogh served as executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, an independent policy research institute that conducted research into agriculture and regional policy issues.

The federal government’s new Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology is Brendan Dowling, as reported by He fills the vacancy left by Dr Tobias Feakin, who served as the inaugural ambassador for six years.

Mr Dowling most recently served as first assistant secretary for the Cyber and Critical Technology Coordination Centre within Home Affairs.

Additional responsibilities will be given to several federal assistant ministers, including Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman, who will be appointed to the role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Public Service.

Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Dr Andrew Leigh will be appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, known as Assistant Minister for Employment.

Major General Natasha Fox. Image: Sergeant Tristan Kennedy

The inaugural chief of personnel at the Australian Defence Force is the Deputy Chief of Army Major General Natasha Fox. The appointment of a chief of personnel was a key recommendation of the Defence Strategic Review. She will be promoted to lieutenant general and will begin the role on June 5.

Kate Penney has moved from Treasury to the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources. She will start as general manager for economic and industry analysis this week.

William Tan, previously acting as general manager of National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) priorities has moved to oversee the Decommissioning Taskforce. Jocelyn Cooper, who joined the department last week, is now the general manager for NRF priorities.

20 new fellows have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science, including engineering Professor Zaiping Guo who specialises in electrode and electrolyte materials for energy storage and executive director of the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute Professor Pankaj Sah.

The 11 other members of the inaugural Advisory Board for the Centre for Australia-India Relations, in addition to chair Swati Dave and chief executive Tim Thomas, have been announced, including Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson and former South Australian Trade minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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