Online and Law Lecture Theatre, Grosvenor Crescent, Sandy BaySummary:
In the 2022 Plimsoll Lecture Dr Heather Smith argues that Australia needs a new national conversation to find a balance between national security considerations and the need to embrace new strategic opportunities.
Dr Heather Smith will argue that Australia’s place in a turbulent world is increasingly defined by geopolitical competition, rapid technological upheaval and the contested energy transition. She will explain how Australia needs to find a new balance in its response to these global shifts, with fresh attention to our longstanding partners and to those with whom we now share a common commitment to a strategic order that supports economic and political stability.
Dr Smith’s Plimsoll Lecture will examine Australia’s preparations for the challenges ahead and the need for a national conversation, highlighting the inter-generational stakes, that can set an effective Australian strategy for the disruptive, disorderly and dangerous decade ahead.
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Dr Heather Smith PSM FAIIA
Dr Heather Smith served as Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science from September 2017-January 2020. As CEO, she led a department of over 2,300, a portfolio of around 10,000 staff, and was a key contributor to decisions on Australia’s national innovation budget.
Heather has nearly 20 years’ experience in the Australian Public Service at senior levels leading significant initiatives covering economic, industry, innovation, communications, resources, foreign affairs, national security and intelligence matters.
Heather was Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts (2016-2017). She served as Deputy Secretary in the departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2013-2016) and Foreign Affairs and Trade (2010-2013) and was Deputy Director-General in the Office of National Assessments (2005-2010). She worked at the Australian Treasury (2003-2005) and at the Reserve Bank of Australia (1988-1990).
In October 2013 she was appointed by Prime Minister Abbott as Australia’s G20 Sherpa, overseeing Australia’s Presidency of the G20 in 2014.
Heather previously served as a member of the boards of Innovation and Science Australia; CSIRO; the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation; the Australian Institute of Marine Science; and Infrastructure Australia. She was a member of the advisory panel to Prime Minister Gillard’s white paper, Australia and the Asian Century.
She is a non-executive director of ASX Limited and of financial services firm Challenger Limited, a Professor at the ANU National Security College and deputy chair of the United States Studies Centre. In 2021 she was chair of the independent panel undertaking a review into the Australian Public Sector Hierarchy and Classification System. She is also a member of the Westpac Scholars National Selection Panel and a member of Chief Executive Women.
In June 2015 Heather was awarded a Public Service Medal. She was the recipient of the University of Queensland's Alumni Excellence Award in 2016, and in 2019 was awarded the ANU College of Business and Economics Distinguished Alumni Award. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.
Heather holds a PhD in Economics from the Australian National University and a B. Economics (Hons 1) from the University of Queensland. From 1994-2000 she was an academic specialising on North Asia at the Australian National University. She has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. In 2012, Heather completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.
Dr Smith has been recently appointed the National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, commencing this role in April 2023.