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Renewal SA upheaval continues as top exec departs

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The State Government’s trouble-plagued urban renewal authority Renewal SA has parted ways with the last remaining member of its former executive team, with former acting CEO Damian De Luca leaving the agency today.

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De Luca was part of a four-person executive that has been completely overhauled since 2018, when then-CEO John Hanlon and People and Culture Director Georgina Vasilevski took sudden leave, and were later charged with misuse of travel allowances after an ICAC investigation.

They are still fighting the the allegations in court – the latter’s case relating to an amount totalling just $1032.60.

When the pair initially stood aside, Corporate Services manager De Luca was installed as acting chief executive, but was later replaced by fellow executive Mark Devine.

However, Devine quit the agency in 2019, with Chris Menz later appointed as a permanent replacement.

Menz sent an email to staff this week, saying: “During the past 12 months we have refocussed our organisation to align to our ambitious strategic plan.”

“After discussing the future of Renewal SA and the continuing changes and direction I would like to take, particularly for corporate services, Damian De Luca will be finishing on Friday,” he continued.

“I understand this is a very short timeframe, however after much consideration and with my support, for personal reasons Damian has elected to finish up early.

“Both Damian and I are confident in the ability of the corporate services team to continue to work effectively during this period of change.”

He said finance director Braden Naylor would act in De Luca’s vacated general manager role from Monday, “while we settle the new General Manager role which will differ in its focus and expertise”.

Menz also flagged “potential changes to corporate services including the backfilling of a number of outstanding vacancies”, with a new role to be advertised in the coming few weeks.

De Luca’s departure caps a turbulent period for Renewal SA, whose restructure has seen several high-tiered bureaucrats leave the agency in recent months.

Treasurer Rob Lucas – who has overseen Renewal SA since former Planning Minister Stephan Knoll resigned from cabinet last year – said he was aware of De Luca’s departure as part of a “management change in terms of what the chief executive and board down there see as the role and function and fit of various executives”.

“I think there have been significant changes in terms of the whole executive team,” he said.

“I’ve got every confidence in the new CE Chris Menz, I think he’s a breath of fresh air [and] if he’s making a judgment about the executive team he wants he certainly has my confidence.”

De Luca did not respond to inquiries today.

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