Media response - CEO appointment

Published on 16 June 2022

Response to The Advertiser.

  • I am seeking a response from the council, Mr Dawson and Ms Grant to comments by the resident group Onkaparinga Council Watch about the new CEO. I hope to publish an article on the Advertiser website soon. The group says they are not happy with the appointment of Alastair Dawson because of his role as the Vice-President of the Central Queensland University. He was critical of Australian of the Year and child abuse survivor Grace Tame as “childish” and “immature” for not smiling in a photo with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Does he stand by his assessment of Ms Tame, and did he apologise to her? They also alleged Mr Dawson was forced out of the position because of the comments. Is that true? Residents were also not happy with the acting CEO Julia Grant, saying she also attracted negative headlines when part of a Jay Weatherill trip to Europe at a cost of $100,000. Does she have regrets about this or defend it?

Elected members decided to appoint Alastair as City of Onkaparinga’s new CEO because of his wealth of experience as a dynamic and transformative leader in the local government and education sectors.

Mr Dawson confirms he was not forced from his role with Central Queensland University and had previously signalled his intention to leave the role prior to the social media comments. He continues to wish CQUniversity well in its operations.

Mr Dawson does not intend to comment further about the issue and is now focused on his future contribution to Onkaparinga Council and ensuring the Onkaparinga community receives the very best possible service in the future.

Acting CEO Julia Grant attended international climate change meetings with South Australia’s then environment minister and other key staff in Europe in 2015 as a public servant, supporting the then Premier who was co-chair of the Climate Group’s States and Regions Alliance.

Those meetings progressed the contributions of local and state (subnational) governments in addressing the impacts of climate change in the lead up to the 2021 United Nations Conference of the Parties, and reflected South Australia’s position as a leader in renewable energy and climate policy.