A senior minister’s decision to appoint one of his mates to a cushy well-paid role in which a female executive was already identified as the best candidate has been slammed as yet another example of Labor’s ‘jobs for the boys’.
Trade Minister Don Farrell appointed his friend Chris Ketter to the plum role of senior trade and investment commissioner and Australian consul-general of San Francisco ack on July 7.
Kirstyn Thomson, head of the Americas investment desk at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), had been flagged as the ‘preferred candidate’ for the role, The Australian revealed on Thursday.
To make matters worse, Mr Ketter allegedly never even applied for the role, and the formal recruitment process was cancelled when Senator Farrell’s office selected his mate for the reported $250,000-a-year job, the Australian reported.
Mr Ketter is a former Labor Senator who, after he was ousted, took up a role in Deputy PM Richard Marles’ office as a senior staffer. He considers Mr Farrell a close friend and ally.
Trade Minister Don Farrell (centre) sits with ALP politicians at a Labor event. Mr Ketter thanked Mr Farrell for his ‘friendship and support’ during his first speech to parliament in 2013
Former Labor senator Mr Ketter (left, with fitness star Michelle Bridges) reportedly did not apply for the plum US job at all, and has no experience in the field, but was appointed by his friend, Trade Minister Don Farrell
Kirstyn Thomson (pictured), head of the Americas investment desk at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), had been flagged as the ‘preferred candidate’ for the role
The decision required the approval of the Federal Cabinet, meaning Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was aware of – and signed off on – the appointment.
Greens Senator Larissa Waters was scathing of the decision, telling reporters in Canberra it ‘stinks, to put it bluntly’.
‘The Australian people voted for an end to this kind of ‘jobs for the boys’ nonsense. They expect better from the Albanese Government,’ she said.
‘Minister Farrell’s decision to install an ex-Labor colleague and senior staffer in a plum industry role, instead of the woman selected through a rigorous recruitment process, simply doesn’t pass the pub test.’
Ms Thomson, who has two decades of experience in trade, appears to have harboured no ill-will over the decision, telling The Australian that she went on to land a more suitable posting.
It’s not the first time Don Farrell has caused dramas for Anthony Albanese.
Before September’s Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane, it was revealed a cringeworthy exchange took place between Farrell and footy legend Dermott Brereton.
The Labor powerbroker pushed to the front of the queue and demanded a selfie with him declaring he was ‘a minister’.
When asked where Don Darrell was a ‘w*nker’, the Hawthorn star replied: I don’t know him personally, but his behaviour at that stage suggests he might well be.’
Ms Thomson has run the Americas investment desk at AusTrade since 2021, but has more than 20 years experience in the industry, including working out of London and Myanmar, according to her LinkedIn page.
She was reportedly one of 50 people who applied for the position, and was determined to be the preferred candidate.
Trade Minister Don Farrell (pictured) appointed his friend Chris Ketter to the plum role of senior trade and investment commissioner and Australian consul-general of San Francisco back on July 7
The decision required the approval of the Federal Cabinet, meaning Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was aware of – and signed off on – the appointment
Meanwhile Mr Ketter reportedly did not apply for the job at all, and has no experience in the field.
He worked as a union official in a role that was closely aligned with Mr Farrell, and used his first speech in parliament after he was elected to the Senate in 2013 to thank Mr Farrell for his ‘friendship and support’.
He lost his Senate seat in the 2019 election, and went on to work as a ‘senior advisor’ to Mr Marles.
In congratulating Mr Ketter for the appointment, Mr Farrell said he ‘brings extensive experience across government, and in the defence industry and critical technologies sector, which will help bolster Australia’s AUKUS objectives’.
Daily Mail Australia approached Mr Farrell for comment.