Gig Guide: McGowan’s new innovation chief

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The newly re-elected Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan has appointed the member for Bunbury Don Punch as the state’s new Minister for Innovation and ICT.

Mr Punch, the member for the regional seat of Bunbury, also gets the portfolios of Disability Services, Fisheries, and Seniors and Ageing as part of the McGowan government’s second ministry.

Mr Punch is a first time minister and a former social worker and public servant, whose pre-politics career included 17 years at the WA Department of Community Services.

Mark McGowan and Don Punch
Innovation lead: Mark McGowan has appointed first-time minister Don Punch to the Innovation and ICT portfolio

The office of federal Digital Economy minister Jane Hume has received a major boost this year with the appointment of Caity McLouglin as a senior advisor and deputy chief of staff.

The new Digital Economy portfolio is considered a key as the Morrison government builds towards a May budget expected to include a “centerpiece” digital initiative.

The well-regarded Ms McLoughlin was a heavy lifter within the NSW government in the development of state’s digital strategy. Most recently Ms McLoughlin was principal adviser of technology and road safety inside NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance’ office.

Ms McLoughlin has a legal background and worked as an associate director for Optus business between 2017 and 2019.

Another advisor on the move is Valeria Cheglov, a former federal ministerial communications apparatchik who has been appointed to software giant Xero to head up the company’s strategic communications.

Ms Cheglov, who was most recently assistant media director at the Digital Transformation Agency, has also worked as a senior media adviser to the Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education Andrew Gee and a senior media adviser to Industry Minister Karen Andrews.

American tech giant AWS has bolstered its Canberra-based government relations with the appointment of Zoe Jay Hawkins as Public Policy Manager for Australia and New Zealand.

Ms Hawkins heads to the private sector after nearly three years in the Australian Government, most recently as an adviser to Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher. She previously worked as a cyber affairs diplomat for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Public Service powerhouse Dr Martin Parkinson has been appointed the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation at The Australian National University to lead the development of research-informed public policy.

The former secretary of the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said Australia needs public policy informed by the best thinking and research “now more than ever”.

Dr Parkinson replaces Dr Ken Henry, who served as chair of the Wilson Foundation from 2013 to 2021.

Meanwhile in state politics, the Queensland government lost longstanding Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart this week, who is moving overseas after six years in the role.

Mr Stewart will now promote Queensland trade, investment and tourism as the next Agent-General for the United Kingdom and Trade and Investment Commissioner Europe.

“Dave Stewart is one of the best – he is widely respected as one of the most experienced public officials in this country having worked for governments of all persuasions,” said Premiere Palaszczuk.

Replacing Mr Stewart is Rachel Hunter, who moves to the Premier department after being Director-General in three others: Justice and Attorney General, Education Training and the Arts, and State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.

“Ms Hunter has demonstrated her outstanding leadership capability as Under Treasurer and continues to shine as one of the best senior leaders in government,” the Queensland Premier said

Ms Hunter was Queensland Public Service Commissioner from 2000 to 2003 and also holds the position of Deputy Chancellor of Griffith University.

In NSW Dr Ian Oppermann will lead a new artificial advisory committee to advise NSW government on its use of the controversial technology. Oppermann told InnovationAus this week the group will take a “deliberate but cautious” approach as it develops world first assurance frameworks for government use of AI.

In the consultancy world, Capgemini has pried Deloitte managing partner Kaylene O’Brien away from the rival after nearly a quarter of a century with the company. Ms O’Brien will lead Capgemini as ANZ managing director.

She leaves after more than 24 years at Deloitte, rising through the ranks from a technology consultant after joining from Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) in the late 1996.

The open banking lead at the Commonwealth Bank, Gavin Leon, has left the bank to join Australian software powerhouse Atlassian as group program manager.

Mr Leon was appointed the chief product owner (CPO) for open banking in January 2020 to pilot CBA’s role in the data portability scheme. He has also helped deliver several of the bank’s digital channels, including its award winning app.

He announced his move on LinkedIn earlier this month after 18 years at CBA.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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