Changing the guard at Veterans’ Affairs: Liz Cosson is new Secretary as Simon Lewis retires

Simon Lewis PSM is to retire on 18 May as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Thanking Mr Lewis for his work, Prime Minister Turnbull referred particularly to his management of the Anzac centenary over the last four years.

From Honest History’s point of view, a particularly useful intervention from Mr Lewis was his reminder in Senate Estimates that most of DVA’s expenditure was locked in under legislation, leading to the conclusion that the department’s outlays on the Anzac centenary were a large proportion – perhaps 30 per cent – of its discretionary spend. Other spokespersons (including one Minister, who even then had trouble with the arithmetic) have focussed misleadingly on the small slice of the overall spend that goes on commemoration. (A round-up of this history.)

Honest History wishes Mr Lewis well in the future. The new Secretary is Liz Cosson AM CSC (formerly Major-General Cosson) who has been Deputy Secretary at DVA and has had a long career in the army and more recently in the Australian Public Service. We wish her well also.

Minister Chester welcomed Ms Cosson’s appointment. The Prime Minister noted that Ms Cosson’s appointment achieves gender parity among departmental secretaries.

Ms Cosson has crossed paths in the past with the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson. A speech from Ms Cosson in 2014, sponsored by Lockheed Martin.

David Stephens

12 April 2018

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