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Australian named first woman to lead NZ Treasury

By Pattrick Smellie

June 25 (BusinessDesk) - The head New South Wales' training agency, TAFE, has been appointed secretary to the New Zealand Treasury.

Caralee McLiesh will replace Gabriel Makhlouf, who leaves at the end of this month after eight years at the helm of the country's principal economic policy advisor to the government.

She will be the 25th secretary to the Treasury since it became a standalone entity in 1858 and the first woman to lead the agency. Like Makhlouf and unlike most of her predecessors, she has been chosen from outside the ranks of both Treasury and the New Zealand public service.

McLiesh comes to the role after a brief stint as managing director at Technical and Further Education, NSW, which employs around 17,000 people and manages a budget of A$1.8 billion. She is a "highly respected, world-class economist with very strong fiscal, economic policy and financial management credentials,” State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said in a statement announcing her appointment from Sept. 16.

She has held the TAFE role since last September and worked at the NSW Treasury between 2008 and 2018, where she held several deputy secretary roles, led the development of state budgets and finished there as deputy secretary for the fiscal and economic group. She was awarded the Public Service Medal of Australia in 2017 after pioneering the first use of a social impact bond in Australia to deliver services and results for families at risk.

Between 2000 and 2007, McLiesh worked in various roles for the World Bank in Washington DC, including programme manager and senior economist. In the 1990s she was an associate at the Boston Consulting Group in Melbourne and worked for the International Red Cross in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in Botswana as a development delegate.

She holds a Bachelor of Economics with First Class Honours from the Australian National University and a PhD in finance from the University of Melbourne. She is a Fellow of the Certified Practicing Accountants, Australia and a Member of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (NSW) Council and a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

“Dr McLiesh has more than 20 years’ experience in the government, international, not-for-profit, and commercial sectors and has led large, complex reforms with multiple stakeholders to improve citizen outcomes,” said Hughes. "I have no doubt the public service and New Zealand will benefit from her skills and experience.”

Her appointment is for five years from Sept. 16. Until then, the current Deputy Secretary, Budget and Public Services at the Treasury, Struan Little, will be acting Secretary.



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