Turnbull appoints new Communications Department secretary


news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appointed a new Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Turnbull said he was “pleased to announce the appointment” of Dr Heather Smith PSM, who will start on 25 January and has been appointed to the role for five years.

The wife of incoming Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Martin Parkinson, Dr Smith replaces Drew Clarke, who moved into the role of Chief of Staff to the PM after Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister.

Dr Smith has had an “extensive and distinguished” career in the public sector in a number of roles and brings a “wealth of experience and expertise” to this position, the Prime Minister said in a statement.

Currently a Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, she recently headed the Prime Minister’s taskforce on innovation and led work on public data policy.

Dr Smith has held previous roles in the Treasury, the Office of National Assessments and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She was also Australia’s G20 ‘sherpa’ during 2014, for which she was awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) in the Queen’s Birthday 2015 Honours.

Graduating with a PhD in 1994 and a Masters of Economics in 1990 from the Australian National University, Dr Smith also holds a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University of Queensland.

Before joining the public service, Dr Smith carried out academic studies on North Asia at the Australian National University.

The new position is one of three that remained to be filled. A new head of DFAT will be needed in the summer, but more urgently, the role of Secretary at the Education and Training Department will become vacant by February.