Stuart Kells

Consultant, Environment and Industry sector specialist


Stuart has over 20 years' experience advising leaders in government and business on strategy, reform and improvement. His areas of expertise include governance and institutional design, evaluation, innovation, regulation, assessing performance, and market design. For more than a decade, Stuart was a senior executive in the Victorian Government, where his roles included Assistant Auditor-General, Executive Director – Office of Manufacturing, and Executive Director – Economic Reform. Stuart also worked as a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Institute, an executive at Potter Warburg and a Director at KPMG, where he jointly led the Melbourne economics practice. He has written extensively on innovation and performance improvement.

Recent assignments

  • In Victoria’s urban water sector, led a major reform program whose principal elements included: a review of the regulation of retail water prices, which led to a new approach to setting prices; disaggregation of metropolitan water entitlements, which established a new wholesale water market; an efficiency review that identified more than $1.5 billion in savings, and led to significant water bill reductions across Victoria; and related reforms in areas such as investment evaluation, environmental funding and water markets.
  • Analysis and advice on employment services programs, including viability modelling of the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, and economic modelling of the impact of Australia’s employment services model. Consulted stakeholders and wrote the report for the Commonwealth Government’s Advisory Panel on Employment Services Administration and Accountability, which identified opportunities to strengthen and streamline the employment services model.
  • A major project to advise the Victorian Department of Justice on emergency management governance and reform, including the design of a new peak agency, Emergency Management Victoria, and the establishment of a new set of emergency management performance and assurance standards. Also advised the Department of Justice on investment in the sheriff’s vehicle fleet.
  • Advice and analysis on environmental programs and resource recovery, including: advice on the Victorian Environmental Partnerships Program (a market-based co-investment program); funding of regional environmental services and Catchment Management Authorities; strategic advice to the Metropolitan Waste Management Group; and other advice on natural resources programs and agencies.
  • Advising the Victorian industry department on a new services industry strategy for the state, and a range of other economic policy and development matters in sectors such as services, defence, health and manufacturing. Also reviewed the manufacturing industry and helped develop a new Victorian Government policy for the sector.
  • Regulation and regulatory reform assignments, including advising the Australian Taxation Office on the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission; review of Victorian not-for-profit regulation; reviewing the Regulatory Assessment System for Queensland Treasury; leading the inception of a new regulatory review body, the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission; preparing a series of regulatory impact statements; and advice to Ministers on regulation and regulatory reform in a range of other areas. Establishment member of the COAG Reform Council Secretariat. Principal author of Victoria’s submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into National Competition Policy.
  • Economic development projects. Led investment attraction negotiations with the Commonwealth Government and Boeing for aircraft component manufacturing in Melbourne; development of an investment support package for naval shipbuilding at Williamstown; provision of advice and economic modelling regarding the impact of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement; a major research project on the labour market experiences of former Ansett workers; research on ‘business dynamics’ (including business entry and exit) and the nature of business innovation; and an initiative to release insurance data to encourage entry into the insurance market.
  • Various transport and infrastructure procurement assignments. Led the business case and funding strategy for Melbourne’s 5000-seat convention centre, procured as a public-private partnership. Probity auditor, Melbourne metropolitan tram and train refranchising. Probity auditor, Tram rolling stock procurement. Performance audit, Public Transport Ticketing System, NSW Department of Transport. Probity auditor, Regional road maintenance, VicRoads. Foundation member of the Gateway Supervisory Board in Victoria. Member of project control group for the Australian Synchrotron Project.
  • Other performance audits and reviews including: Water Infrastructure Planning; School Performance; Disability Accommodation; Agricultural Research Investment; VicRoads; Capital Project Management; and Hospital Ancillary Services. Also led a series of public sector governance improvement projects.


  • Bachelor of Commerce (Honours), University of Melbourne (first class honours)
  • Master of Commerce (Honours) in Economics, University of Melbourne (first class honours)
  • PhD (Law), Monash University (Monash Law Dean’s Award)
  • Leading Australia’s Future in Asia, Crawford School of Government, Australian National University
  • Board member of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Book Sellers
  • Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors