This week IP Australia has announced that from 9 December 2013, the new Director General is Ms Patricia Kelly PSM. Ms Kelly brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role. Her public sector career spans over thirty years, including periods with the Department of Social Security and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and since 1995, the Department of Industry and its various predecessors.
Ms Kelly’s credentials in science, research, innovation and industry are impeccable. From 2004 to 2013 she served on the Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) Committee. From 2006 to 2013 she chaired the Audit Committee of the department known variously through this period as the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. Of course, IP Australia is itself situated within this department.
From 2006 to 2008 Ms Kelly was a member of the Council of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). In 2008 she was a member of the Review Panel of the National Innovation System, which released its report, Venturous Australia, on 29 August that year. She also chaired the Management Advisory Committee Steering Committee to report on innovation in the Australian Public Service between 2008 and 2009, and subsequently the APS 200 Project team responsible for implementing the recommended reforms.
Ms Kelly led Australia's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radiotelescope and was a founding member of the Board of the International SKA Organisation. In this role, she was responsible for coordinating the Australia-New Zealand bid, for managing international negotiations with the SKA office in Manchester in the United Kingdom and with all potential member countries, and for managing the partner relationships (the New Zealand government, the Western Australian government and the CSIRO). In doing so, she had to balance competing requirements for the proposed site to be ‘radio quiet’, the interests of the mining sector in Western Australia, and the rights of Native Title claimants.
This year Ms Kelly was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours, being awarded a Public Service Medal for ‘outstanding public service in leading the promotion and implementation of higher levels of innovation in the Australian Public Service and for her leadership of the Australian Government's bid to host the international Square Kilometre Array facility.’
All in all, Ms Kelly appears to be a superbly-qualified appointment to the role of Director General. Furthermore, having worked productively under (by my calculations) at least four successive government of both political stripes, she should be well-placed to maintain the momentum of a number of ongoing projects, and to continue to foster the bipartisan support which characterised the development and introduction of the Raising the Bar IP law reforms.
Finally, if you wish to see Ms Kelly in action in her previous role, there is a video on YouTube of her speaking at the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s Accelerate Australia event, which took place on 6 February 2013. The subject of her presentation was research training in Australia, and more-specifically PhD training.