Gig Guide: SA govt names new defence industry lead

Brandon How

The new chief executive of Defence SA, the state government’s defence industry agency, is long-time director of defence and space at the University of South Australia, Matt Opie.

The top job at Defence SA was vacated following Richard Price’s resignation in December 2023, ending his six-year tenure, during which he also led the South Australian Space Industry Centre.

Mr Price initially tendered his resignation in a letter to the South Australian Premier in August, with executive director for defence and space Reg Carruthers acting in the role since he formally stepped down.

Mr Opie will begin his five-year term on April 15, moving from the University of South Australia, where he has been since December 2017. Prior to joining the university, Mr Opie spent around a decade as Saab Australia’s head of industry engagement.

He has also worked at BAE Systems and spent 13 years in technology management and planning roles for the Royal Australian Corps of Signals.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science Susan Close said Mr Opie joins Defence SA begins at a crucial moment for South Australia’s industrial base as AUKUS, including Pillar II and the development of advanced technologies, ramps up.

Matt Opie (far right) with Australia’s Ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd and former Liberal Defence minister Chris Pyne in 2023. Image: LinkedIn

The Queensland government has found its new Information Commissioner in former Victorian Public Access Deputy Commissioner Joanne Kummrow. She will begin her three-year term on April 3.

Ms Kummrow is an experienced Victorian public servant having spent nearly six years as Public Access Deputy Commissioner in addition to stints as acting Victorian Infromation Commissioner and as special counsel for government and public law in the state government solicitor’s office

On the other side of the country, the Western Australian government has appointed David Skellern, co-founder of early wireless communications innovator Radiata, as the new chair of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, a joint venture with Curtin University.

The University of Tasmania’s dean of natural sciences Professor Simon Eillingsen has also been appointed executive director of the centre.

Mr Skellern adds the new role to his existing chair responsibilities at Quasar Satellite Technologies and the New South Wales government-funded Semiconductor Sector Service Bureau.

The new lead of the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness is Dr Debbie Eagles. She is being promoted from the deputy director position after more than four years at the centre. Prior to her time at the high-containment facility in Geelong, Ms Eagles worked as a research program director at CSIRO.

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy will be re-appointed in his role for another five-year term, pending formal approval from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced in a pre-budget speech on Thursday. Mr Kennedy’s current term began in September 2019 and is set to end in September.

The Queensland Manufacturing Institute, an industry representative body, has appointed Leigh Staines to its board, a former Strategy& partner with extensive resources sector experience.

Ms Staines is currently also an industry professor for commercialisation at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute and has previously held roles at Rio Tinto, Santos, and Exxon Mobil.

Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer will retire at the end of March. Mr Dyer was initially appointed as the first National Wind Farm Commissioner in November 2015 before his remit was extended in March 2021.

Xero and Tyro Payments chair David Thodey has been appointed as the new chancellor of the University of Sydney, as reported by He replaces Belinda Hutchinson, who is stepping down after 12 years in the role.

The former Telstra and IBM Australia chief executive previously led the 2019 Australian Public Sector Review and was deputy chair of the National COVID-19 Advisory board.

At the Australian Submarine Agency, Jeremey Coghlan has been appointed as the assistant director general for the division managing construction of the SSN AUKUS nuclear submarines. He moves from his role as the Defence department’s shipbuilding office policy director.

Australia’s former ambassador to the World Trade Organisation George Mina has been made a deputy secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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