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Gallagher shakes up top-level bureaucrats

Date

Noel Towell

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher. Photo: Melissa Adams

The ACT's second most senior public service official will be moved to another job as Chief Minister Katy Gallagher reshuffles the territory's bureaucracy.

Under-Treasurer Megan Smithies will relinquish the key role as Ms Gallagher merges two ACT government departments and creates a new one.

Ms Gallagher announced yesterday that the Treasury and Chief Minister and Cabinet directorates will be merged, although the two functions will remain in different ministerial portfolios.

The new directorate, Commerce and Works, will absorb other shared elements of the territory's bureaucracy including shared services, capital works, the ACT Revenue Office and ACT Insurance Authority.

Ms Smithies, who became the most senior woman in ACT public service history when she was named head of the territory's Treasury in 2007, will lead the new Commerce and Works Directorate, retaining her status as a director-general.

She joined Treasury straight from university in 1989 and more recently was a key architect of the government's tax reform that was bitterly contested leading up to last month's territory election.

Neither Ms Gallagher's office nor the public service would say whether Ms Smithies had asked for the new job or it was forced on her and there was no response to requests to speak to the Under-Treasurer.

The Chief Minister said there would be a recruitment process to find a new Under-Treasurer.

''Megan Smithies will be taking over the new Commerce and Works Directorate and obviously there will be a vacancy for the chief executive of Treasury but that will be filled in the short term and there will be a recruitment process,'' Ms Gallagher said yesterday.

It is unclear if the changes, the biggest shake up of the ACT public service since the Hawke review was implemented last year, would involve job losses, but Ms Gallagher said she could not rule out redundancies.

''This hasn't been arranged with any plans to cut jobs, it's more about better utilising the staff we have now,'' the Chief Minister said.

''In Treasury and Chief Minister's right now we have two areas that look at the Commonwealth-state financial relations and the COAG agenda, they're split across two units and we'll now have them working in just one unit.''

But the Chief Minister has stopped short of bringing responsibility for all the government's building jobs under the control of a single department.

''We need to think about that because we need to improve our capital works delivery, there's no secret there,'' she said.

''At the moment, the new commerce and works will do some work and report to me about how that can be improved. But we have big projects under way like in health that has its own structure in place and it would be difficult to remove that out of the Health Directorate.''

9 comments

  • Different deckchairs. Same Titanic.

    Commenter
    Economist
    Date and time
    November 13, 2012, 9:01AM
    • Struck the iceberg 4 years ago but haven't bothed to check the engine room.

      As usual, the captain is last to know.

      Commenter
      Evanism
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 12:15PM
  • Can one assume that Ms Smithies salary will be adjusted to the level of her demotion?
    P/S Ms Smithies, how are the promised positions within the ACT P/S going for the former Rhodium staff members Mr Stanhope promised following your on site meeting some time ago, IE: still waiting and damn angry.

    Commenter
    COOL OLD DOG
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    November 13, 2012, 9:25AM
    • Ms Smithies joined Treasury straight from university in 1989 and more recently was a key architect of the government's tax reform that was bitterly contested leading up to last month's territory election.Firstly she sits perfectly for a seat at the next election when Corbell resigns before the next election, Secondly she fits perfectly with Labor philosophy as she has never had a real job as she is a bureaucrat / sycophant . Thirdly Labor is not denying the Tax Reform. Fourthly Canberra gets the Government they deserve. Fifth Well I can't really say,as I want this printed, but thanks Canberra.

      Commenter
      Grand Poobah
      Location
      Just up the road from you
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 9:51AM
      • And we get the $380m deficit we deserve too. And that’s before all the fudges are discovered.

        It would be great if there was some type of system where the people of the ACT could periodically review the operation of the Government and decide whether the people in charge should stay in charge for another period of time. Something like the Chinese Congress that’s going on at the moment. The media could also write stories that scrutinise
        readily available information and notorious facts so as to provide information to the public about the operation of the Government. Maybe we would not be hundreds of millions in the can if that happened for once.

        Alas, in Canberra we have a periodic ritualistic exultation of our Dear Leader, before we all dutifully sign up to another four years of being screwed at a cultural happening known as an “election.” And if it doesn’t go to plan, the court jesters from The Greens will save the day.

        Commenter
        Economist
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 10:16AM
    • Oh naive Canberra voters. You do not realise what you have done re-electing this labor=greens circus. Billions in promises that cannot and will never be funded, but hey it sounded good pre-election.
      I guess atleast half the ACT population had the brains and life experience to vote liberal this time. Sadly I think the other half are very similar to Ms Smithies. Straight from uni, straight into a cushy Mon-Fri highly paid public circus positions. Never had a real job, never had to really work hard. Too naive to realise how much pain we are all in for with labor=greens running the place.

      All worried about liberal ps job cuts, whilst labor=greens cut just as hard by stealth.
      Sure no one will soon be able to afford or want to live here, but we will have some other great things in place. Make supermarkets richer plastic bag bans (release the stats on profit increases for them and the so called benefits since free bags went labor=greens...could this be looked at in a future article Canberra times??).

      How bout drug rights for prisoners in our 5 star jails? Maybe refugee and gay marriage rights? More artworks? How bout any other minority social issues our oversized council wants to jump.

      Forget they should be concerned about rates, rubbish, roads, parks, cost of living etc.
      Look at what they have turned Canberra into. Ugly Gungahlin for instance, with its rows of identical units and townhouses, backywardless houses with roofs almost touching. No open spaces. All futures slums and hives for social problems.
      Oh well 50% of Canberra people, you voted for this rabble. Now no whinging when the consequences become apparent.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 10:19AM
      • So Ms Smithies is moved sideways to a new role and they advertise her old job as Under Treasurer in another department, thus creating an additional Senior Executive position in a new Directorate! The split of what were the previous Treasury functions between the old role and the new is also quite bazaar, as is really everything this defacto Greens Gallaher Government does. Next thing they will be selling off what is left of the family silver and community artwork to balance the books. What are the chances of ACTION Buses, ACTEW and the ACT TAB being around in four years. Little to none is my guess. They might even have to concoct a land acquisition deal with NSW so they have something to sell to boost revenue or maybe just treble the rates...that'll do it!. "Strange days indeed"...

        Commenter
        Grange
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 1:46PM
        • Costello, Samacq, Stanhope & Gallagher did a number on Rhodium Asset Solutions several years ago so why not ACTION & ACTTAB at least.
          I am still waiting for someone within the Assembly to call for a real inquiry into the closure of RAS.

          Commenter
          COOL OLD DOG
          Location
          ACT
          Date and time
          November 14, 2012, 8:06AM
      • We haven't seen the people moving out of Canberra yet but time will tell as the going get tough and the public service get cutting.

        Commenter
        Joe
        Date and time
        November 13, 2012, 4:19PM
        Comments are now closed
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