Mr Richard Bolt

Mr Richard Bolt was born in Adelaide and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering (with Distinction) from the University of South Australia, where a testing centre was established based on a technique he developed to locate high voltage insulation faults. While studying, he worked at BHP’s Whyalla steelworks and Mitsubishi Motors, where he helped to semi-automate car production. 

The State Electricity Commission of Victoria recruited Mr Bolt in 1983. He left in 1985 to pursue public advocacy then policy research for the Australian Democrats in the Senate, who he helped to introduce carers’ leave, improve consumer protections for small businesses experiencing phone faults, cancel plans for naval facilities at Jervis Bay, and to increase competition in postal services. 

Guided by the late Monash Professor Herb Feith, Mr Bolt and several academics co-wrote two books on Australia’s security. The ensuing debate prompted Defence Minister Beazley to resume defence cooperation with Indonesia. 

In 1995, Mr Bolt joined the Victorian public sector to help establish economic regulation and consumer standards for Victoria’s newly reformed utility industries. In 1999 he graduated from Monash with a Master of Public Policy and Management. His major research paper formed the basis of an incentive scheme for electricity network reliability, which was implemented in Victoria from 2001. 

Mr Bolt became Head of Energy Policy in 2001 under the Bracks Government. He helped lead national reforms to strengthen governance of the electricity and gas systems and design a bipartisan carbon pricing model. He also established Victoria’s transport security function following the 2005 London bombings. 

In 2006 he was made Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, where he contributed to boosting agricultural bioscience (gaining funding for the AgriBio centre and lifting the moratorium on GM canola); developing a national system for agricultural innovation; responding to major emergencies; creating programs to drive renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced metering; and developing low-emission uses of coal.

Under the Baillieu Government, he was made Secretary of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in 2011, where he led a greater school-driven focus on learning and development results; negotiation of the first ‘Gonski’ school funding agreement with the Commonwealth; stronger oversight of training quality; reform of TAFEs; new quality standards for early childhood education; investigations into corruption; and a major savings drive. 

In 2015, the Andrews Government appointed Mr Bolt as Secretary of the new Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. The Department and its agencies have commenced Victoria’s largest-ever transport construction program; modernised franchise contracts for public transport; accelerated trade facilitation and development of economic precincts; established an employment service for disadvantaged Victorians; established regional partnerships; and expanded the electronic tagging of livestock for biosecurity purposes. 

Mr Bolt’s career focus has been on the creation of sustainable public value through better strategic planning, engagement, collaboration and innovation.