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Renewal SA's new boss "most appropriate" for the job

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Planning Minister Stephan Knoll says it was always his intention to install Renewal SA executive Mark Devine as acting head of the embattled agency after he returned from leave, despite the minister refusing to confirm he was on leave only weeks ago.

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Devine was yesterday confirmed to have taken over as acting CEO of the state’s urban renewal authority.

It came almost three weeks after corporate services manager Damian DeLuca was installed in the same role, taking over from permanent CEO John Hanlon, who took sudden leave last month, along with “one other Renewal SA executive”, as Knoll announced in a statement at the time.

In a later estimates hearing under parliamentary privilege, Knoll stated that three of the agency’s four executives were “on leave with pay”, and refused to confirm Opposition questions about whether Devine was on annual leave with his family in New Zealand.

This prompted Labor frontbencher Tom Koutsantonis to muse in parliament that “if Mr Mark Devine – who is not here – is on personal leave unrelated to the matters that involve the chief executive, and the minister will not clarify and separate him from that, I think it is deeply unfair”.

On ABC Radio Adelaide today, Knoll was more forthcoming, saying that Devine – Renewal SA’s third chief executive in as many weeks – had “come back from leave and given that his role is looking after a lot of the projects that Renewal SA look after… I thought he was the most appropriate person to look after the place”.

He said DeLuca “otherwise looks after finance… and it was certainly my intention for Mark when he came back from leave to take on” the acting CEO role.

Knoll denied there was “instability” in the agency, which oversees key infrastructure projects, saying “there were a couple of executives on leave, but this is an organisation that continues on doing exactly what it did a month ago”.

“Yeah, there are a couple of executives on leave – including John Hanlon – but these other two guys, Damian and Mark, are doing a fantastic job and I’ve got every confidence that they’re just going to keep on doing what Renewal SA needs to do,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that there is any instability… I’m comfortable with the leadership team as it exists.

“We’ve tried, I think, to be quite an open and transparent government, but there are times where it’s more responsible for us to be discreet about what is it we say and I’m extremely comfortable maintaining the position that we have because it’s the right thing to do.”

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