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6 Apr 2018

‘Expert’ who quit rehired | The Advertiser

Adam Langenberg | The Advertiser

A HIGH-RANKING bureaucrat who quit after damning criticism of his department’s handling of child sexual abuse has been appointed as Treasurer Rob Lucas’ chief of staff.

Gino DeGennaro, pictured, quit as Department of Education and Child Development deputy chief executive in 2013 after the Debelle inquiry into child sexual abuse.

His resignation also came shortly after a damning report into DECD found it lacked leadership and accountability.

In 2013, then DECD chief executive Tony Harrison said he did not believe Mr DeGennaro or senior executive Jan Andrews could be part of his senior executive group, based on his “assessment of their individual involvement with the Debelle matter”.

Former Supreme Court Justice Bruce Debelle’s report found it was “quite remarkable” that Mr DeGennaro – in his time acting as DECD chief executive – had not told former education minister Jay Weatherill about a rape at a western suburbs public school during a weekly briefing.

Then-Opposition Leader Steven Marshall had called for disciplinary measures against education bureaucrats, including Mr DeGennaro, as a result of their inaction.

Mr Lucas noted the criticisms of the department under Mr DeGennaro’s leadership, but defended his appointment. He said Mr DeGennaro had “undoubted expertise” in treasury and finance. Mr DeGennaro was the state’s Deputy Under Treasurer from 2000 to 2002, during Mr Lucas’ previous stint as Treasurer.

“In terms of treasury and finance, to have someone like him is a huge skill boost to what is normally in a treasurer’s office,” Mr Lucas said.

“My office is handling finance, treasury and the books. This is a bloke who was a former Deputy Under Treasurer with undoubted expertise in that area. Compared with any other chief of staff or ministerial adviser in a treasurer’s office, they would pale into insignificance.”

Mr DeGennaro worked as deputy chief executive for leadership development group Principals Australia Institute for four years after his 38-year stint in the public sector ended.

The Opposition said it was up to Mr Lucas to explain why Mr DeGennaro was a suitable choice to run his office.

Meanwhile, Mr Lucas confirmed Liberal backbencher Terry Stephens would replace Upper House President Andrew McLachlan in his role after two years, as part of a deal to maintain party room harmony.

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