2015 has been another year of major change at the very top of government.
Dr Martin Parkinson has been appointed as the new head of the Commonwealth public service by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The appointment reaffirms Turnbull’s stamp on the new look Coalition Government in a move that makes up for the dismissal of Dr Parkinson as Treasury Secretary at the end of last year.
Despite his impressive economic credentials, including a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University studying under Ben Bernanke, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was keen to terminate his services after taking office in 2013 despite protestations from then Treasurer Joe Hockey. These divisions were central to the poor reception of the 2014 Budget.
Serving as Deputy Secretary to the Treasury from 2001 to 2006, Dr Parkinson has also worked at the International Monetary Fund. He headed the Climate Change Group in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet early in 2007 and was appointed inaugural Secretary of the Department of Climate Change later that year by the Rudd Government.
During the Keating Government he served as a senior economic advisor to the 34th Australian Treasurer John Dawkins where he contributed to Superannuation reform.
His public policy contributions include significant input into the delivery of the Asian Century White Paper, the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling, aged care reform, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the National Broadband Network and the Prime Minister’s Manufacturing Taskforce.
Dr Parkinson replaces Michael Thawley who announced his resignation on 24 November, the same day as Peter Varghese resigned as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr. Thawley had previously served as the Australian Ambassador to the United States. Mr. Varghese previously served as the Australian High Commissioner to India and as Director-General of the Office of National Assessments.