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About us

Our leadership team

The department’s executive is collectively responsible for leading the organisation, and individually accountable for the strategic and operational activities of their specific areas.

Jim Betts, Secretary

Jim Betts is the Secretary of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, which holds key responsibilities within the New South Wales Government for long-term planning, infrastructure priorities, natural resources, the environment, energy and growing the State’s industries.

Jim joined the Department in 2019, following almost six years as the Chief Executive Officer at Infrastructure NSW and five years as the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Transport.

As part of his role at Infrastructure NSW, Jim led the development of the 2014 State Infrastructure Strategy Update and the 2018 State Infrastructure Strategy, which provided over 200 project and policy recommendations to Government.

During his time in Victoria, Jim was involved in the delivery of the $38 billion Victoria Transport Plan, the overhaul of Victoria’s legislative framework to integrate the planning of transport and land use, and overseeing the construction of the $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link project.

Kirstie Allen, Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Reform

Working in partnership with the whole Cluster, and with government and industry, Kirstie is charged with delivering the Cluster’s strategic and reform agenda. Kirstie will work along with Cluster partners to deliver policy and strategic planning reform in areas including water, planning, waste and housing. Kirstie is also charged with implementing the NSW government’s place-based business cases, and smart cities strategy.

Kirstie previously worked at Infrastructure NSW, where she successfully delivered the 2018 State Infrastructure Strategy: Building Momentum, and subsequently implemented the Strategy’s Government accepted recommendations across the transport, environment and telecommunications sectors. Before Infrastructure NSW, Kirstie held positions across the NSW public sector including at Sydney Water and the Environmental Protection Authority.

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Paul Grimes, Coordinator-General, Environment, Energy and Science

Paul Grimes joined the Department in April 2020. He is responsible for leading the Environment, Energy & Science group, encompassing national park management, biodiversity and conservation, climate change, sustainability, resilience and adaptation, renewable energy and energy security, waste management and resource recovery, and environment protection.

Paul brings with him extensive experience in the public service, having worked across all three levels of government. His roles have encompassed a broad range of policy, regulatory and operational responsibilities. Paul has previously served as Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and as Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population, and Communities. Most recently, Paul was Public Sector Commissioner in Victoria. In 2010, Paul was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service in the development of the Australian Government's response to the global financial crisis.

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James Hebron, Chief Legal Counsel

James was previously the Chief Counsel for the Department of Planning and Environment and now performs this role for the new cluster. James worked in Darwin and Perth before settling in Sydney and his background includes private practice as well as governance and legal work with Woodside  Energy and Sumitomo Corporation. A legal 'deep generalist', James worked across many areas prior to and since joining the public service. He focuses on people, outcomes, and delivering results for the state. Recent highlights include a creative and engaged team and a less than wildly successful paragliding career.

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Jody Broun, Cluster Lead: Aboriginal Strategy and Outcomes

Jody will retain her role as Chief Executive of the Aboriginal Housing Office alongside her Cluster Lead role, to advance the interests of Aboriginal people throughout NSW, and to use the combined power of the department to deliver better social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and their communities.

Jody is an Yinjibarndi woman from the Pilbara in Western Australia and has worked extensively with Aboriginal communities in WA and NSW, and across Australia. Over more than 30 years Jody has held a number of senior roles in government and the not for profit sectors including in housing, Aboriginal affairs, Red Cross and as Co-Chair of a national representative body for Australia’s First Peoples. In all these roles Jody has worked to empower communities to address disadvantage through community led approaches, collective effort and strategic leadership.

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Alex O'Mara, Deputy Secretary, Place, Design and Public Spaces

Alex is charged with re-orienting our planning system around people, places and communities, with a strong emphasis on upfront strategic planning and integration of planning and infrastructure. She’ll focus on excellence in design, respect for local neighbourhood character and welcoming public spaces. Planning for environmental infrastructure and biodiversity are key to her role.

Alex has led many multi-dimensional projects, particularly policy and reform projects related to planning and environmental issues and complex stakeholder engagement. While Deputy Secretary for Create NSW, she delivered the largest investment in cultural infrastructure in NSW since the Opera House was built.  Alex has a first class honours degree in Arts/Law and a Masters in Administrative Law and Policy. She has been a member of several boards and is currently a member of the State Archives and Records Authority board.

Committed to diversity and inclusion and values-led leadership, Alex is passionate about creating great places and public spaces for people across NSW.

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Marcus Ray, Deputy Secretary, Planning and Assessment

Marcus is responsible for improving our planning and assessment functions and leading the digitalisation of the planning system.

Marcus drives a strong customer and community focused culture to build confidence in the assessment of the State’s most significant projects and infrastructure proposals. Ongoing compliance also plays a critical role ensuring industry complies with conditions of approval.

Key to his role will be supporting the Office of Local Government and leading strategic planning and local environmental plan making in regional NSW. He’ll be focused on making the planning system more competitive to sustain sustainable economic regional areas.

Marcus has 25 years’ experience in planning and natural resources in the NSW Government. Following a successful career in law and 17 years in senior executive roles in government focused on service delivery, law, planning policy and reform, Marcus makes decisions based on principle, not process.

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Michael Wright, Group Deputy Secretary, Housing and Property

Michael leads the new Housing and Property Group which has been formed to maximise economic outcomes and deliver community benefits through the more efficient utilisation of government owned land and property in the delivery of diverse housing, economic activities and public spaces.

The Housing and Property Group provides strategic oversight and coordination to ensure that government owned property and government led development is advanced as a whole-of-government agenda to deliver improved economic, environmental, cultural and social outcomes. A new functional capability in the Group will support whole-of-government consideration to realise best use of existing and underutilised land to maximise community benefit in the delivery of housing and public spaces.

Michael has 25 years executive leadership experience in the NSW public sector, including as agency head for NSW Maritime and for National Parks and Wildlife Service, Acting Chief Executive for the Office of Environment and Heritage, and as Deputy Secretary, Mining, Exploration and Geoscience within the Department of Regional NSW.

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Jim Bentley, Chief Executive Officer, Water (Deputy Secretary)

Jim Bentley joined the department on 1 July from Hunter Water Corporation and now holds the NSW Government’s most senior water role. He is responsible for negotiating for our sustainable and affordable access to water with other states and the Commonwealth, and for coordinating with colleagues across government, state-owned corporations and local utilities to ensure we are delivering resilient water services for the people of New South Wales.

Jim is a senior executive with extensive experience, particularly in the water sector, working across both the private and public sector. His deep knowledge of water utilities will be useful in his role where he will oversee billion-dollar water infrastructure programs and the prioritisation of water projects, and work closely with utility companies. Jim has a history of evidence-based decision making, with a background in infrastructure services consulting. As the department continues to roll out Regional Water Strategies, his expertise and skills will be invaluable in securing both metropolitan and regional water supplies.

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Shaun Smith, Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services

Shaun previously served as Deputy Secretary, Corporate Service Partners and will continue in this expanded role in our new department. Before joining the department he worked in the Department of Finance Services and Innovation (DFSI) where, among other achievements, he led the establishment of the Strategic Programs and Performance Management Office, reporting to the Secretary.

Shaun brings prior experience in large commercial roles within property, engineering and construction before joining NSW State Government where his career included roles as Director, Executive Director and Managing Director for the Department of Premier and Cabinet and DFSI. He is also the chair of NSW Government Community of Change Professionals and brings strong leadership, operations and customer focus skills to the Department.

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Kiersten Fishburn, Coordinator-General, Planning Delivery Unit

Kiersten Fishburn is the Coordinator General of the Planning Delivery Unit (PDU) in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The PDU works closely with stakeholders and government agencies to remove blockages and resolve issues on projects in the planning system. The unit also assists with projects under assessment, so that decisions can be made more quickly.

Kiersten is the former CEO of Liverpool City Council where under her leadership, Liverpool was successfully positioned as Sydney's third CBD, saw the largest capital investment in commercial development in its history, and secured generational opportunities from the Western Sydney City Deal. Prior to her work at the council, Kiersten held a number of roles including Director of the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and management positions with the City of Sydney, as well as a range of senior Board and committee positions. Kiersten has an Executive MBA from RMIT and a BA (Art Theory) from UNSW.

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Sally Anne Friedlander, Deputy Secretary, People, Performance and Culture

Sally Anne will lead the People and Culture teams across the Cluster, along with internal and external communications, to help leaders at all levels turn the departmental vision into a reality for our staff. She is responsible for developing and executing strategies to manage our talent and plan for their progression and succession, develop and enhance our working culture, ensure our communications are effective and informative, and keep us safe and healthy in the workplace.

Sally Anne brings with her vast experience from executive positions at national and international construction businesses and organisations including Qantas Airways, Boral Limited and most recently as Executive Director, People and Performance at NSW Health Infrastructure. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, as demonstrated by her personal commitment to the Inspired Women’s Leadership Series for Health Infrastructure, the National Association of Women in Construction, the Construction Industry Culture Task Force, the Open Doors program, and as a volunteer steward for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

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