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Victoria Walker

I am committed to responsible progressive policy in New South Wales with prompt action to defeat the present scourge of rising inflation; to urgent science-based action to mitigate the impact of climate change; to open, accountable and long-term planning; to integrity and transparency in government and politics; equality and safety for women and girls and a fair go for the growing number of members of our society, who have been forgotten and ignored by Government.

I first lived in this electorate as a student and returned here to set up house with my family after a few years overseas. While my work has taken me around Australia and overseas, my family home, my local polling place and my involvement in local issues remain constant.

I believe I have the knowledge, skill and standing to progress the urgent reform and change sought by the residents of North Shore, and that my voice will be heard. 

While my working life has moved and evolved over the years, I found quite early I had a reputation as a problem solver. I have been invited into numerous and diverse organisations and work settings to identify and resolve entrenched difficulties, to come up with new approaches and ideas, to get people onboard and actively pursuing them. I enjoy my work, I am persistent and not afraid to ask difficult questions, and I get the answers. I believe this background and experience will be useful as the Member for North Shore.
 

MY CV

I moved to North Sydney from Birchgrove in my last years at university, to share a flat in Miller Street opposite Council. My first job, also in Miller Street, was just down the hill, at Jackson Wain Advertising, headed by creative director, Donald Horne. I then spent a year in the Economics Department at Sydney University, doing research in industrial relations. After a period in ABC Radio News, I had saved enough money to head overseas for a few years.

In London, I worked at the Royal Court Theatre as administrator of the Theatre Upstairs; in advertising, for Vernon Stratton International, with mainly fashion clients. In my first week Vernon asked me to take over as accountant and keep my eye on things. He was captain of the British Olympic yachting crew, in training at Cowes much of the time. I also did research for Fred Zinnemann for a film of Andre Malraux’s La Condition Humaine, sadly never made.

I lived for periods in Barcelona, in Paris, and in Rome, where I married economist and author, Wal Walker. I travelled with him to Sierra Leone and returned to London, where our first son was born. At home with a new baby, I was invited by poet, Mazisi Kunene, to set up an international Foundation for Albert Luthuli, designed to use Scandinavian funds to improve education opportunities in Southern Africa.

On our return to Australia, we settled in McMahons Point, in the house where we still live today. When our youngest child developed respiratory problems we moved for a period to the higher and drier climate of the Central West. We built an architect-designed, low-energy demonstration house there, held a conference on future energy options for urban and country areas and reported on its recommendations to a Senate Standing Committee inquiry into Alternative Fuels.

I was a non-official village postmistress in an old gold-rush pub, where I opened a gallery. I worked for the Bathurst Orange Development Corporation, becoming involved in regional, rural and new town planning, transport, energy and community projects. I tutored future teachers at Mitchell College, now Charles Sturt University, and later served on its Council.

My family and I returned to McMahons Point, the boys walked to school at North Sydney Dem and later, North Sydney Boys High. As they grew up, I commuted further from home, to work in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Darwin and overseas.

Following a steep increase in world oil prices, I undertook social impact studies of proposals for new coal mines and the expansion of old mines in Lithgow, then across the Hunter Valley, where I involved all the Councils in a Hunter social development program, granted funding by State Cabinet. That alliance of Hunter Councils has endured, now the Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, its regional role is included in the Local Government Act.

I prepared a submission to a Commonwealth Review of General Purpose Grants and gave evidence at public hearing in Sydney on the impact of the significantly higher Sydney rental market, issues taken up in a revised distribution formula. I was seconded to the Deputy Premier’s Office to assist in setting up a new Ministry of Employment and with distribution of the first round of Commonwealth Wage Pause funding to New South Wales.

I spent five years in the Ministry of Education where I set up an Economic and Demographic Planning Unit, to provide the Minister with independent analyses across the portfolio. I was happiest with two outcomes I achieved: agreement between Cabinet and the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission on the location and funding of the University of Western Sydney, and reform of Special Education, accommodating many more children in local schools and classrooms.

I commuted to Canberra as a Visitor to the Australian National University’s Centre for Federal Financial Relations, to research the macroeconomic impact of offshore borrowing for infrastructure projects, a result of changes in the operation of the Loan Council.

I returned to work in the New South Wales Parliament, as Director of the Public Accounts Committee. I was responsible for the conduct of ten enquiries, into the Forestry Commission, National Parks and Wildlife, the Auditor-General’s office, auditing and legal services provided to Local Government and others, and the production and tabling of their reports. I asked Premier Greiner for a reference to the Committee for an inquiry into private investment in public infrastructure, which he gave willingly, though I had left before it commenced.

I had been invited to Brisbane, as consultant to the Electoral & Administrative Review Commission, set up after the Bjelke Peterson years, to remove the gerrymander and upgrade Queensland’s public administration. I recommended a committee structure for Parliament, designed to regenerate parliamentary independence, that was endorsed by both Executive and Parliament and put in place.

I accepted a position in the Parliament of Victoria as Director of the Economic and Budget Review Committee, chaired by Race Mathews: responsible for Estimates, Public Accounts and individual enquiries. I was responsible for the conduct of six inquiries, including Private Investment in the Provision of Public Infrastructure, and finalisation of their reports. When the Committee went into recess over a nearly three month pre-election period, I arranged a secondment to the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts, to work on a broad enquiry into the Australian Taxation Office, proposed by Senator Bronwyn Bishop. While there, I also set up the Committee reviews of eighty Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) reports.

I returned to Sydney, to work in New South Wales Treasury over two State budgets; then resumed commuting to Canberra for eight years, as Senior Director of Performance Audit at the ANAO. I was responsible for twelve tabled reports, including audits of parliamentary workflow, ministerial travel claims, privatisation and corporate sponsorship. I wrote five better practice guides for distribution across government departments and agencies and an ANAO statement on public sector corporate governance. After a contentious project, I took a break in Perth, seconded from the ANAO to the National Native Title Tribunal, to help strengthen its capacity to respond to proposed amendments to the Native Title Act 1993.

I left the ANAO on high point, after completing an audit of the integrity of the electoral roll, and after years of commuting, to take a position walking distance from home, as Director of Audit Division in NSW Health, with oversight of internal audit units in seventeen Area Health Services. Over three years, as well as the Division’s routine work and investigations, we undertook performance audits of Aboriginal health, research governance and management of co-located public and private health facilities; and progressed governance of Health’s code of conduct and ethics.

I moved to AUSTRAC, an agency I had audited at the ANAO, to design a new regulatory model to improve compliance and intelligence gathering, to strengthen relationships with industries and entities within its regulatory catchment during the transition to a new Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, and to meet new international FATF standards. 

After this project, following a long standing interest, I went to the Northern Territory. As Director Government Relations & Strategic Policy in the Department of Health, I coordinated input to COAG and the Australian Health Ministers Conference, advised on emerging issues and potential impacts of Commonwealth policy, budgets and health reform on the Territory. I also tutored first year students in the medical program at Charles Darwin University, run in collaboration with Flinders University, to train Indigenous Australian doctors.

More recently I have worked in Sydney, editing non-fiction, including three volumes of Australian history. Inspired to write a book of my own, I produced the first complete study of Jane Austen’s Juvenilia: Jane Austen had a Life!

Since my first weeks in McMahons Point, I have been an active resident, aware of the constant pressure to extend the CBD across the Bridge to North Sydney. I started the first North Sydney playgroup in at St Peter’s Church Hall, later taken up by Council’s Creative Leisure Centre. My first success was convincing Council to keep the remains of the Neptune slipway in Lavender Bay, for children to see how ships were brought ashore for repair.

I have formed and joined in many local initiatives to protect and enhance our community. I am currently Secretary of the Lavender Bay Precinct Committee.

My qualifications include, a Master of Arts, University of Sydney, 1982; and a Master of Public Policy, Australian National University, 1992.

I have served in various honorary positions, including:

Ministerial appointee on the Council of Mitchell College, now Charles Sturt University;

Official Visitor to the maximum security Central Industrial Prison at Long Bay;

Honorary Life Member, Black Women’s Action in Education;

Member, Northern Territory Health Advisory Council;

Member, Human Research Ethics Committee, Menzies School of Health Research; and

Board Member, Northern Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service.

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