Dan - 2010 Graduate Program

Dan

Background

Dan was born and bred in the world's greatest city (as all Melbournian's like to think) and wasn't shy of reminding Canberra natives at every opportunity. Like the overwhelming majority of Victorians, he is an avid AFL fan and after spending almost a year in the ACT, Dan is still struggling to decipher the differences between League and Union.

After completing VCE, Dan enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne. Whilst sunbaking in South Beach, Florida, in 2005, he was bewildered to discover that he had been awarded an academic scholarship to complete honours in political science. Dan went on to study law at Monash University but opted against legal practice after receiving a phone call from the Graduate Management Team that he had been accepted into the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts grad program.

Placements

First Placement: Greenhouse Energy Minimum Standards Legislative Taskforce, Renewables and Energy Efficiency Division (REED)

Dan got a taste of Machinery of Government changes when he and his grad colleagues in REED were seconded to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency three weeks into the first rotation. Despite the ensuing excitement in Lovett Tower, Dan continued to work on the proposed Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) bill, which aims to introduce unform minimum energy performance standards for household appliances; 'you know those stickers with stars that you see on fridges and washing machines? That's what we're working on improving', is how Dan explained his work to friends and family, who were convinced he was moving to Canberra to become Prime Minister. During this rotation, Dan become well-versed in various provisions of the Trade Practices Act, Australian Consumer Law and the work of various regulatory watchdogs, whom the GEMS team were hoping to draw inspiration from. In retrospect, the national 'roadshow tour' which took Dan to Brisbane, Perth in Adelaide in the second week of the rotation remains his fondest memory.

Second Placement: Mining Section, Approvals and Wildlife Division (AWD)

After working on legislative policy for three months, Dan wanted to experience environmental assessments first hand and headed over to the Mining Section in AWD. Here he was confronted by large mining companise like Santos-Petronas, Arrow Energy, British Gas and Conocco Phillips who were seeking permits to commence coal-seam gas extraction in the Surat and Bowen Basins in Queensland. Throughout the rotation, Dan quickly become acquainted with the EPBC Act, environmental impact statements, recovery plans for endangered species, stakeholder submissions and a barrage of ministerials. Dan enjoyed the fast-paced working environment (especially working through several weekends) and gaining exposure to high-profile meetings with mining executives. The rotation involved extensive liasion with both internal and external stakeholders as well as with other departments such as the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, which heightened Dan's capacity for 'strategic thinking', a concept he likes to bandy around his mentor and other senior delegates.

Third Placement: Cetacean Conservation Management Section, Marine Division

After being talked out of abandoning the grad program to join Paul Watson on the high seas, Dan was convinced that he could help to conserve whales and dolphins by joining the Marine Division. In the Cetacean Conservation Management Section, Dan became part of a dedicated 'national team' of whale enthusiasts whose conservation efforts within Australian waters underpin the work of the 'international team' who assist in Australia's tireless campaign within the IWC to preserve cetaceans globally. Dan was immediately thrown into the 'deep end' (no pun intended), working on ministerial briefs, reports for the branch head, cetacean research permits, seismic survey referrals and of course, ministerials. Dan really came into his own in the Cetacean team, combining the policy and assessment experience garnered in his first two rotations to devastating effect. He is currently negotiating with his director to remain where he is for his final placement.

Final Placement: Indigenous Heritage Law Reform Section - Heritage Division

Upon completion of the graduate program, Dan decided to keep exploring the wonderful diversity of the department and trekked off to Heritage Division to join the Indigenous Heritage Law Reform IHLR Section. The IHLR is a small but vibrant team that is responsible for administering the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act (1984). The Act enables indigenous people to make applications to the responsible Commonwealth Minister for emergency and longer term protection of areas and objects that are of particular significance to Aboriginals and which are under threat of injury or desecration. Dan has found this area to be quite stimulating as it involves legislative interpretation, application of administrative law principles, case law, drafting briefs and liaising with applicants and other interested parties. In between processing applications, Dan and his team are also spearheading the reform of the Act which aims to address ambiguities, provide more procedural guidance and facilitate dialogue between all interested parties in order to reach a favourable outcome in the early stages of the process.

'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'