QBCC executive Philip Halton quits suddenly without explanation.
QBCC executive Philip Halton quits suddenly without explanation.

Top building industry watchdog chief in shock exit

SHOCK EXIT

One of Queensland's most senior bureaucrats, tasked with keeping an eagle eye on the frequently-troubled building industry, has abruptly quit his post without explanation.

Philip Halton, the deputy commissioner of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, alerted staff by email yesterday about his surprise departure, which takes effect immediately.

Halton, a seasoned government operative who comes from a family full of civil servants, had only been with the regulator for a little more than two years.

"Thank you all for for (sic) the great work that you do at the QBCC,'' he wrote to the troops.

"The Commission has an important mission to perform for Queensland, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to strengthen the skills, resources, laws and technologies that are dedicated to that purpose.''

Halton went on to heap praise on the senior leadership team, other directors and his boss, Commissioner Brett Bassett.

But that's all he said. Every basic question about the shock move remains shrouded in mystery and we couldn't reach him to dig a bit deeper.

Why is he leaving? What are his plans now? Who will replace him? We just don't know and neither a QBCC spin doctor nor Bassett would shed any light on the matter yesterday.

Indeed, all we got from Bassett was a load of feel-good puffery.

"Philip joined the QBCC to continue the journey of making the organisation a more risk based strategically focused regulator. During his time here he has done that,'' he said.

"We thank Philip for his contribution and wish him all the best for the future.''

PART OF THE DNA

Halton came to the job following stints as a chief of staff for both Housing Minister Mick de Brenni and then-Environment Minister Steven Miles.

Prior to these postings he worked at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and served as boss of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association.

These jobs followed a long career in the public service around the nation, including gigs in Victoria, Canberra and NSW, where he was a key player in the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Government employment appears to be hardwired into the DNA of the Halton family.

His late father, Charles, served under Gough Whitlam as secretary of the Department of Transport in 1973 and later held multiple roles in the public service in the 1980s.

Jane Halton is a member of the Australian National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.
Jane Halton is a member of the Australian National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

His sister, Jane, spent more than three decades in the federal government trenches, rising to great heights before retiring in 2016. She was instrumental in securing plain packaging for cigarettes during her 12 years as head of the Health Department.

Today, in addition to sitting on the boards of ANZ and Crown Resorts, Jane is at the forefront in the battle against coronavirus following her time as a World Health Organisation director.

She currently chairs the global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and, in March, she was appointed to the Australian National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

FLYING HIGH

Peter Dutton isn't the only one pouring a bucket over the Queensland Government's efforts to buy or partly bailout stricken Virgin Airlines.

Critics of the problem-plagued Public Trustee note that the agency's Growth Trust investment fund is managed by QIC, which is spearheading the tilt for Virgin.

So could PT clients end up exposed to the high-risk aviation game? Stranger things have happened.

CLARIFICATION

In an item this week about the passing of John Crowley, we noted that he had launched the now-defunct Bryan Byrt Auto Group in Brisbane in 1972. That's not the case.

Auto industry veteran Peter Dever, dealer principal at Supamerc and an MTAQ board member, informed us that Crowley had actually bought the business from John Harris and Colin Crewe in about 1990.

These two gents acquired it from the widow of Bryan Byrt in the mid-1970s, he said.

Originally published as Top building industry bureaucrat in shock exit



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