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Advisory Council reinforces Labor's strong regional commitment

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The Hon Simon Crean MP

Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts

Thursday, 23 June, 2011


Regional communities will have even stronger backing at the highest level of government with the appointment of a Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia.

Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean said the new Council was a key part of the Gillard Government’s strong commitment to regional communities across the country.

“Our Budget built on Labor’s record investment in regional communities with $4.3 billion towards key investments including health and hospitals, skills, higher education and infrastructure,” Mr Crean said.

“Australia’s economy is in transition and Labor has responded by strengthening the role of the nation’s 55 Regional Development Australia Committees and driving a new place-based approach that will help deliver local solutions to local issues.

“We are determined to make sure regional communities can meet the challenge of an economy in transition and reach their full potential.

“That is why today I am announcing the appointment of 11 eminent Australians to a new Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia.

“Each member of the Council has been chosen because of their longstanding commitment to regional Australia. Together, they have a shared interest in the wellbeing of regional communities and the part Australia’s regions play in the growth of the nation.”

Mr Crean said new Council would be chaired by Bill Kelty and provide independent advice on emerging regional priorities and how best to grow regional economies.

Mr Crean said the new Advisory Council comprised Bill Kelty (Chair); Professor Ian Chubb AC; Lindsay Fox AC; Professor Sandra Harding; Collene Longmore; Rob Kerin AM; Elizabeth McGregor; Mal Peters; the Right Honourable Ian Sinclair AC; Professor Jonathan West; and Christian Zahra.

“I am delighted to be working with such a committed group of people who will help to shape and inform our response to issues affecting regional Australia,” he said.

Biographies of the members of the new Ministerial Advisory Council on Regional Australia:

Bill Kelty AC (Chair) is a facilitator to support the signatories to the Statement of Principles to navigate the restructuring of the Tasmanian forestry industry. He is a former Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Union and member of the Reserve Bank Board. Mr Kelty was also Chair of the Federal Government Regional Development Taskforce and in 1993 authored a pivotal report for the Commonwealth, Developing

Australia: A Regional Perspective. Mr Kelty also played a pivotal role in the National Employment and Training Taskforce (NETTFORCE), which had a strong focus on training and regional development.

Professor Ian Chubb AC recently retired as Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University after 10 years in the role. Professor Chubb believes a robust higher education system is crucial to the nation’s economic, social and cultural prosperity. He has also been the president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee and chairman of the Group of Eight university lobby group. Professor Chubb has recently been appointed Australia’s Chief Scientist.

Lindsay Fox AC is the founder of his family-owned trucking and logistics company, Linfox. He was appointed to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council in 2008 and has contributed to the community through a range of philanthropic endeavours. Mr Fox’s commitment to the promotion of youth traineeships saw him work with Bill Kelty to introduce the national ‘Work for Australia’ campaign in 1992-1993. Over 60,000 jobs were pledged and the success of this campaign set the foundations for NETTFORCE.

Professor Sandra Harding is Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University, which has campuses in Cairns and Townsville. She is a member of the Innovative Research Universities Australia, an alliance of seven Australian universities, and is on the Board of Universities Australia. Professor Harding is also a council member of the Australian Institute for Marine Sciences, Director of Townsville Enterprise Limited; Advance Cairns; TropLinks Incorporated; and Director, North Queensland Cowboys NRL Board.

Rob Kerin AM was elected to the South Australian Parliament in 1993 and appointed Minister for Primary Industries in 1995. In 1998, Mr Kerin was appointed Deputy Premier and took on the Primary Industries, Natural Resources and Regional Development portfolios. He became Premier in 2001 following the Hon John Olsen’s resignation from Office. After the election of the Rann Labor Government in 2002, Mr Kerin was re-elected as leader of the Liberal Party, a position he held until March 2006.

Collene Longmore is a highly experienced CEO of the Shire of Roebourne and previously held the position of CEO for the Pilbara Area Consultative Committee. She facilitated the implementation of the successful Pilbara Plan across four shires and is currently the Chair of the Regional Development Australia Pilbara

Committee. Ms Longmore has also been a member of a Regional Domestic Violence Council, the Pilbara Advisory Forum on Disabilities and Karratha Youth Housing Project.

Elizabeth McGregor is the Institute Director of North Coast TAFE and a member of the national VET Equity Advisory Council, where she advocates for better outcomes for people facing barriers to education and employment success. Ms McGregor is also a member of several other policy groups including the Steering Group - Australian College of Educators Research Project into VET Teacher Quality. She is also Board Director of the Coffs Harbour Technology Park and the Coffs Harbour Innovation Centre.

Mal Peters is chairman of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland and the Namoi Water Study's Ministerial Oversight Committee. He served as President of the NSW Farmers’ Association between 2001 and 2005 and currently directs the Rural Assistance Authority, Agricultural Health Australia and the Border Rivers/Gwydir Catchment Management Authority. Mr Peters is a life member of the Australian Farm Institute, the NSW Farmers Association and a former director of the National Farmers Federation.

Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC was Leader and Deputy Leader of the National Party, Leader of the House and retired as Speaker in October 1998. The long-time advocate for regional Australia has extensive Ministerial experience in portfolios ranging from Defence, Communications, Special Trade Negotiations, Primary Industry, Shipping and Transport, Social Services and Minister Assisting the late Sir John McEwen as Minister for Trade and Industry.

Professor Jonathan West is the founding Director of the Australian Innovation Research Centre, which was established in 2007, and has been a leader in the fields of agribusiness, finance, and biotechnology. The Centre is supported by the University of Tasmania, the Australia New Zealand School of Government and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. Professor West spent 18 years at Harvard University, where he was Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Business Administration.

Christian Zahra was a Member of the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2004 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Development and the Shadow Minister for Communications. Prior to entering the Federal Parliament, Mr Zahra was the CEO of an Aboriginal health and housing service in Gippsland. He has directed the Victorian Energy Networks Corporation (VENCorp) and chaired the Victorian Sustainable Timber Industry Council.

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