Federal Politics

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Government appointments continue a well-known pattern

Attorney-General George Brandis has appointed four former Coalition politicians, and conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen, to positions on government boards and statutory agencies.

The government is also reportedly set to appoint former Nationals MP Kay Hull, who has opposed harm minimisation strategies for the treatment of drug addiction, to the board of the Australian National Council on Drugs. 

The prospect of Ms Hull's appointment, which has not been officially announced, has been opposed by Liberal MP Andrew Southcott and former MP Mal Washer who both worked as doctors before entering politics. 

Dr Albrechtsen, a columnist for The Australian, has been appointed to the council of the National Museum of Australia, which is based in Canberra. The position has a salary of $20,480.

Earlier this year the government appointed Dr Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal leader Neil Brown to the panel overseeing ABC and SBS board appointments, sparking debate about the appointment process. Dr Albrechtsen was appointed to the board of the ABC by the Howard government.

In a series of announcements on Thursday night, Senator Brandis also announced that former Howard government minister Ian Campbell and former NSW Liberal leader Peter Collins will be appointed to the council of the National Maritime Museum. Mr Campbell will bring a "great enthusiasm for our maritime heritage" to the role, Senator Brandis said. Before entering politics Mr Collins served in the Army Reserve and rose to become a captain in the Navy Reserve. Mr Collins served on a three-month operational deployment to Iraq in 2007.


He is currrently chairman of Liberal-aligned lobbying firm Barton Deakin.

Barton Deakin's website described him as "the most prominent NSW Liberal Party identity working in the government relations industry in Sydney". 

Former ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries has been appointed a full-time deputy president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which reviews decisions made by government ministers, agencies and tribunals. The role has a salary of $460,000. Mr Humphries is currently a lobbyist with 1st State Government and Corporate Relations.

Senator Brandis also appointed former National Party politician Paul Neville, a former television cameraman and cinema manager, to the board of the National Film and Sound Archive. 

Political parties routinely criticise each other for appointing political allies to government roles in office. 

Former Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone, who was made ambassador to Italy after leaving office, told Fairfax Media earlier this year: "Everyone has a political opinion. You can make the case it is better when someone's political opinion is well known because there is a transparency about it and it's better than someone who supports a poltical party sotto voce."