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Robyn McLeod in "The getting of 20 years experience around public policy in water management"

Robyn McLeod states she has 20 years work experience in a field called "public policy in water management".   That's apparently what got her the $300,000 a year job.

ABC981 Adelaide host Matt Abrahams spoke with Ms Mcleod on 16 December, 2008 just after she started as the SA Water Commissioner.   Here she sets out the 20 years of "public policy in water management" claim.


The year then 2008, go back 20 years and it's 1988 - her alleged start date in "public policy in water management".

I'll try to work backwards now - setting out what we know Ms McLeod did for each of those years.

Official start date

2008 - January to September


Ms McLeod was a Director with KPMG in its water division.   In consulting firms, partners are responsible for business units, with directors reporting to the partner.

KPMG's Water practice was headed by Jennifer Westacott, here's her CV.

Jen westacott

And here's Ms McLeod's.

Mcleod KPMG

There's that 20 years claim again.  In this CV, Ms McLeod states she has experience with a major water authority (not named) as well as the government.  No mention of the AWU union rep job.

The CV is inaccurate in that Ms McLeod was moved out of the Water Division of the Department of Sustainability at the end of 2006.  

In January, 2007 she commenced in a new role in the Metropolitan Planning division.  Media reports at the time pointed to rumblings about dissatisfaction with the amount of water-related work being farmed out to KPMG in the year previous.   Ms McLeod was mentioned in the Victorian Parliament a few weeks before leaving the Victorian Government.

Here's the Department's organisational appendix to its annual report for 2007, reflecting Ms McLeod's new job in metropolitan planning - not water.

Robyn mcleod 2007

And here is the Hansard from the Victorian Parliament in March, 2007, a few weeks before she left for the KPMG job.

March 2007 planning

It is significant that her Department was about to let a tender for the desalination plant, a multi-billion contract. I'll look more closely at the desal plant in another post, particularly from the AWU/CFMEU/Thiess relationships.  For now I note Ms McLeod's move away from a water-related job at what should have been a time of her crowning glory.   As you've seen, Ms Mcleod had a close prior relationship with Thiess, a logical tenderer for the work and with KPMG (Thiess's auditors).   

May 1997

Steve Bracks the Premier was pretty close to Robyn too.   He signed off on the Victorian Government's 2004 blueprint that led to the desal plant "Our Water Our Future".   Here he is in early 2007, just before he left the Premiership.  He explicitly commits the government to the desalination plant.

Steve bracks water man

He resigned from the job as Premier in April 2007 to spend more time with family.  By October he'd had enough gardening and joined Ms McLeod at KPMG.

Here's the ABC's PM program with the news about Steve and the new job, 4 October, 2007.

Here's the Herald Sun from the same day.

FORMER Labor premier John Cain has criticised Steve Bracks' plum new job with KPMG as a government adviser, but Premier John Brumby says it's a "non-issue".

The Opposition and the Community and Public Sector Union said yesterday it was a conflict of interest for Mr Bracks, and for accounting and audit giant KPMG to be employing the ex-premier when it held so many government contracts.

Mr Bracks declined to comment. His office issued a short statement saying he was out of town with his family and enjoying both his pro bono work and his new part-time employment.

He is likely to earn up to $100,000 a year for the one-day-a-week job on top of his $120,000 yearly parliamentary pension.

KPMG moved to hose down the criticism. Its national marketing partner, John O'Shea, said Mr Bracks would not be involved in any existing government work.

He said Mr Bracks would provide "insights" into government tendering.

"But he will not be directly involved in any Victorian State Government tendering for 12 months," Mr O'Shea said.

Mr Cain said he had a "quaint, late-19th century, early-20th century view" about such appointments and didn't like them.

"I don't believe what you acquire in public life in terms of knowledge and considerable influence is a tradeable commodity," he said.

He said he did not want to judge Mr Bracks, but such private sector appointments were "not to my taste".

But Mr Brumby said all politicians had the right to work once they left public office.

He said it was common, and rejected any claims of a conflict of interest, saying Mr Bracks would not be a lobbyist.

"The former premier is a relatively young man. He's entitled to work again," he said.

As the Department of Sustainability in the Victorian Government was gearing up to release the tender for the multi-billion dollar desal plant, Ms McLeod was moved from the job as head of Major Projects in the Water Division.  She left the government completely 5 months later.


2006 - last year as Executive Director, Major Projects - Water Sector


Here's where Ms McLeod fitted in to the Department of Sustainability that year.

2006 water

By 2006 Ms McLeod had been in the Major Projects job for a couple of years.   She spoke at a UNESCO conference entitled:

2006 Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) Conference ‘Increasing Freshwater Supplies’

The UN influence was pervasive in that conference.   Dams were a no-go.   Here is the descriptive blurb from the UNESCO website setting the agenda for the event;

This conference will focus on increasing freshwater availability for human uses through all practicable means, from emerging desalination technologies to artificial recharge to conservation programs based on changing human behaviour. The conference will serve to exchange experiences and inform participants of cutting-edge innovations relevant to this essential regional and global challenge.

All practicable means.  Except dams.   Robyn and the State of Victoria hopped right in line.

Chicago one
Chicago paper two

And that last sentence describes the thinking in the Victorian Government that completely wrote off the idea of building dams - instead opting for the new-age desal plant.  Dams are not a solution because they just take water and store it.   Like a cup is not a solution in the flow of water from a pipe to my mouth because it just takes water from an existing source.

That year the Bracks Government "de-commissioned" Lake Mokoan near Benalla.   The member for Benalla, Dr Sykes spoke about the greenie inspired lunacy, in particular that flood mitigation would not be possible if the government went ahead.  He specifically named Ms McLeod in the parliament after she wrote a letter placing dubious intepretation on a formal report about flood mitigation and irrigation in the area.

Lake mokoan

(edited for space)

Flood mitigation

No dams, no flood control, just desal.   And the unions loved it.  And I must say that it is ominously impressive that so many people from so many different backgrounds in so many different circumstances say much the same thing about Robyn McLeod.   She tells lies.


2005 - Major Projects Water


Various records show Ms McLeod as the Executive Director Major Water Projects during this year.   Aside from more work on the 2004 plan, the major project for the year was the Wimmera Mallee pipeline project, a vast undertaking of pipes to replace open irrigation channels, costing hundreds of millions and a budgetted 10 years to completion.

This grab from a local publication shows a 2005 Ms McLeod with John Anderson, John Thwaites and another man, it's uncaptioned but seems to be of an opening ceremony.

Piping it

While Ms McLeod had the title, a cast of thousands seemed to be involved in the work.

Major projects girl


2004 - the year of the White Paper on how to store and manage water without dams


This is the first year Ms McLeod worked wholly in water, just 4 or 5 years before the SA Commissioner job.  Sometime in 2004 she appears to have acquired the title Executive Director Major Projects, Water Sector in the Department of Sustainability.

The major achievement for the year was the Department's production of the 2004 white paper on water. Over the next 3 years the department refined the plan - but the general direction is clear here.

For the environment
The plan even provides for The Environment to get a lawyer.

What the.

And in all the hundreds of words, over 28 pages, the word "dam" appears once, and then it's almost by accident, referring to farmers' dams.

Farmers dams

It's telling that the people behind the plan did not even consider the role of dams.  And Robyn McLeod was one of them.   The driving force cannot have been the things they spoke about - the need for us to have water.  There was something else more important.


1999 - 2003 - Chief of Staff to Minister Candy Broad, Minister for Energy, Resources and Ports


In 2000, Minister Broad was responsible for the last pieces of an agreement with the NSW Government to reverse some of the flow of the Snowy River from the Snowy scheme (and on into the Murrumbidgee/Murray) and back into the Snowy River and out to the Pacific Ocean.  That was substantially done in the first year of the government taking office in 1999/2000.

Happy snaps

Robyn McLeod was Candy Broad's chief of staff until sometime around 2003.

I wouldn't characterise the role of a Chief of Staff to a Minister responsible for Energy, Resources and Ports as a job that's substantially involved in "public policy in water management".

It seemed to be more concerned with things like this, mentioned in the Parliament in 2002.

Recfind and foi
Recfind two

And there seems to have been a bit of this too - here's a record of Candy and Robyn's trip to the United States kindly recorded by the Philadelphia Port Authority.

Philadelphia robyn mcleod


Before 1999 - should be half way to 20 years


That brings us back to 1999 - and any details about Ms McLeod's life with Bruce and Julia and the AWU and the AWU-WRA and Thiess and the board directorship are very hard to come by.

You get some sense of the intensity of the bond between Ms Gillard and Ms McLeod in this interview Ms McLeod gave to the ABC's Matthew Abraham and David Bevan on 30 June, 2010, just after Ms Gillard had been made PM.   Loyalty is admirable, but where it's misplaced and combined with dishonesty and coverup it becomes something very different.

  Not hiding

The jobs we do know that Mc McLeod held during the 1990s were a long way from "public policy in water management".

Here's Robyn as an AWU union rep at work in June, 1994 already 5.5 years into her 20 year career in "public policy in water management".

Wool scourers

Robyn McLeod appearing at the Industrial Relations Commission in 1994 to advance the cause of the wool scouring and carbonising industry.

Robyn at the wool scourers

No doubt there'll be some tiresome argument to try to convince the world that yes, those 20 years were all about public policy in water management, but the facts are the facts.  That CV with the 20 year claim was used to procure a $300,000 per annum taxpayer job and it is substantially a false CV with misleading and deceptive claims.

Here is her official Water Commissioner Curriculum Vitae dated 2009.

Robyn mcleod sa cv
Robyn mcleod sa cv 2
Robyn mcleod sa cv 3

Robyn - goodness me, you've underdone the CV!  Look at all the stuff you've left out!!!!!!

Mcleod emily's list one

Where's the bit about being a union rep with the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association rising to Assistant Secretary.   How about all those years working alongside Bruce Wilson as an Industrial Officer with the AWU?  What about all that work you put in as an ALP politician when you stood twice for the seat of Mordialloc?

Now, according to your electoral material from the 1999 election, you were then currently working as "a senior manager in human resources and training".

What?  How does that become working in "public policy in water management"?   And that was 1999, you were supposed to already have half of the experience you say you acquired in a 20 year career in "public policy in water management".  

Now - under Boards and Committees, you've forgotten one!!   What about your previous directorship of the Thiess Superannuation (number 2) trustee company?   In fact, there's no mention of the AWU work with Bruce on your CV at all, it's as if it never happened!

I went to the Harvard Alumnus website, it must just be me, I couldn't find a record of you there.

Harvard robyn


If you make a claim that you bring with you 20 years experience working in so specific and finely defined an area as "public policy in water management" then it should be true.   If the qualities found only in a 20 year veteran are worth $300,000 a year - and if the problem to be solved is of sufficient importance that the state would happily pay it - happy days for buyer and seller. If ever I am diagnosed wtih a pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma and the very small group of medical specialists who have trained for the 20 years necessary to cure my tumour charge $300,000 - I would be inclined to pay.   If after the failure of their procedures I discovered the 20 year veteranship never was, I might be inclined to seek retribution.


In the United States, CVs that guild the lily like Ms McLeod's often see the lily-guilder in court.

Ms McLeod and whoever guided her into the $300,000 per year taxpayer funded job may yet get that call.