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Premier's right-hand man signs new three-year deal but 'frozen' at $750k


Queensland’s top bureaucrat has been reappointed subject to the same pay freeze as applies to all public servants – albeit from a much higher base.

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Official filings suggest the Director-General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Dave Stewart, will maintain his annual remuneration package of more than $750,000. He is the highest-paid bureaucrat, earning more than the Premier, although some government-owned corporations give their chief executives a bigger remuneration package.

Six months out from the state election, the Government on Friday gazetted his reappointment, and also that of Justice and Attorney-General Director-General David Mackie, for three years.

A spokesman for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had reduced contract terms from five years, as was allowed under the former LNP Government, to three years.

The reappointments allow for continuity and certainty but come amid rising unemployment and government efforts to save more private-sector jobs.

“Directors-General will have a pay freeze like everyone else including senior public servants across government,” the spokesman said.

Palaszczuk expected all government employees, including top bureaucrats, to be hard at work responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

“Mr Stewart is widely respected as one of the most experienced public officials in the country, having worked for governments of all persuasions including the Newman and Berejiklian Governments,” her spokesman said.

“Queensland is privileged to have him.”

Palaszczuk on Friday confirmed there would also be a hiring freeze, in addition to the pay freeze that has disappointed unions, as the state faced falling revenue and slowing growth.

“We can’t be going out there just randomly hiring people, we’ve got to take stock of where we are and focus on our economic recovery,” the Premier told reporters.

Hundreds of public servants are also being reassigned, largely to assist Queensland Health with contact tracing of potential COVID-19 cases.

Robert Setter, head of the Queensland Public Service Commission, said departments and agencies had to reprioritise their work programs.

“In doing so, they have also enacted their business continuity plans,” Setter said.

“This includes supporting flexible work arrangements, such as working from home. Remote working success requires public service leaders and managers to establish new routines for priority setting and promoting a shared culture of purpose and accountability.”

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