The Victorian Government has defended its decision not to declare the Labor Party links of the new boss of the Latrobe Valley Authority.
A former president of the South Gippsland Labor Party branch, Karen Cain has been appointed chief executive officer of the body tasked with administering the State Government’s $266 million response to the closure of the Hazelwood power station.
The position was advertised in November with a salary range of $202,489–$324,000.
Ms Cain has also held high-ranking jobs in the Education Department, and has been on the Latrobe Valley Authority’s board since it was formed in November.
National Party Member for Morwell Russell Northe said Ms Cain’s political affiliations should have been made public.
“It’s not a criticism of Karen or her capability, but I think that making sure there is a declaration of your roles, whether you’re a board member or an executive of any organisation, including political parties, is important,” Mr Northe said.
“If you hold an executive position of any political party and you’re undertaking such a high profile public servant job, I think it’s worthwhile that is reported to the community.”
Political affiliations not considered, department says
A spokeswoman for the Department of Premier and Cabinet said Ms Cain’s political affiliations had not been considered during the recruitment process.
“In line with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, at no time during the recruitment process did the department ask Karen about her personal political views,” the spokeswoman said.
“As a long-time public servant, Karen has worked with governments of all persuasions at local, state and federal level and has also built a successful business in Gippsland.”
Labor Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, said Ms Cain was no longer an office holder of the South Gippsland Labor Party branch, and her Labor Party affiliation would not influence her.
“About the influence she will have over the way in which transition money is spent, the work is ultimately ticked off on by the Premier and the members of that cabinet sub-committee, the Latrobe Valley Taskforce,” Ms Shing said.
“The LVA is in essence there to collate information and to assist people across industry and business and in the community to work their way through the options that are available to them.
“The political decisions are appropriately made by people in political positions, which are the ministers around the table including me.”