23 January 2012 – Long standing and well regarded head of the NSW Department of Environment & Heritage Lisa Corbyn left her job suddenly on Friday, amid reports she was pushed out by Environment Minister Robyn Parker and a department restructure.
Staff are understood to have had no warning of the move until Ms Parker issued a media release on Friday stating there had been a restructure of the department and that Ms Corbyn had not reapplied for the chief executive’s job.
Part of the restructure appears to include splitting department functions and establishing a new Environment Protection Authority.
The statement from Ms Corbyn reported in The Daily Telegraph said: “With the setting up of the EPA, my current role as chief executive of OEH (the Office of Environment and Heritage) has substantially changed and, with those changes come new and different opportunities for many people, including for me, and for our organisations.
“This is logical. I have decided not to apply for the new positions so, as of Friday 20 January, I will leave the chief executive role.”
Ms Corbyn did not respond to calls from The Fifth Estate for comment.
On the weekend, the opposition’s environment spokesman Luke Foley told The Daily Telegraph: “They have shot her. Lisa Corbyn is a highly respected public servant. She’s been forced out six weeks after the state lost its chief environment regulator [Greg Sullivan].
“Robyn Parker’s now on to her sixth press secretary.
“Everyone’s losing their job except Robyn Parker.
“When will Premier O’Farrell do the decent thing and get a new environment minister?”
Ms Parker’s media statement commended the service of Ms Corbyn.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Corbyn for her dedication and commitment to the environment portfolio over many years,” Ms Parker said.
“I am grateful to Ms Corbyn for her support over the past 12 months in helping with the change of government. Her expertise, experience and corporate knowledge has been important in making the transition a success. Her dedication to and passion for the environment was a hallmark of her many years in the role.
“Under changes being progressed by the Government, the Environment Protection Authority will be an independent agency separated from the Office of Environment and Heritage.
“As a result there will be material changes to the position of chief executive officer of the Office of Environment and Heritage.”
Temporary CEO will be Sally Barnes, previously a deputy chief executive of the department.
The move comes 10 months after the new Coalition government took office.
In Victoria the incoming Coalition Government placed Sustainability Victoria under review not long after its election in November 2010. A spokeswoman for the minister Ryan Smith told The Fifth Estate that the review had only recently been completed and was now with cabinet.