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Barooga, New South Wales, 20–22 August 2019 2019

Keynote Speakers

Ashley Bland

Director, Constructive Energy


The Regional Energy Revolution: a case study in limitations and opportunities at scale

A Renewable Energy boom is currently underway in the electricity sector with the number and capacity of proposed and possible wind, solar and pumped-hydro projects far outstripping the capacity of the energy network, or grid. While it is pleasing that around 20% of grid connected generation is renewably sourced at the time of writing, it is also true that the percentage of renewably sourced energy consumed across all sectors of the economy is less than 1%. This represents both a wake-up-call for the challenge in front of Australians to decarbonize the economy, and also an extraordinary opportunity for the socio-economic transformation of Regional Australia.

The absence of political leadership and comprehensive policy has led to an opportunistic, market driven scramble which has not optimized economic, social or environmental outcomes for the Regions to-date and is very unlikely to do so in the future. This paper studies 3 examples of regional-scale projects to highlight the extraordinary level of opportunity for regional development that a low-carbon economy offers and suggests the sorts of leadership required at all levels of government and within communities to enable the transition.

This session will be valuable to delegates unsure about the renewable energy transition and/or concerned with the impacts and opportunities in their regions. It’s not all about electricity!


Applying his skills, knowledge, networks and passion for environmental stewardship, his best work days are spent inspiring and assisting others to improve their environmental impact. He look for win-win scenarios that deliver benefits to people, the planet and the local economy. Operating predominantly in the energy space at present, he also has ecological knowledge and a history of self-improvement with the aim of being an effective leader.

Ashley grew up on an organic farm in central NSW which is where he learned to observe the natural world and the impacts that human choices have on it. Ashley left the farm to complete a B. E. (Natural Resources) and landed a role as Environment Officer at a remote mine in NW Queensland. This became a pivotal experience for him learning about both landscape rehabilitation and Aboriginal culture. It was while working for CVA as Regional Manager for Canberra and SE NSW that he met his life partner and they decided to travel the world.

Returning to Australia he again worked with CVA at a more strategic level and then took on a role with Skillset to co-manage construction of the Flannery Centre - an $8.5 million training centre and office complex built to highest sustainable design principles. During this time Ashley was also selected to complete the Australian Rural Leadership Program, an awesome, 18 month, life enhancing program aimed at developing leadership skills for Regional Australia. After that was done he stayed on with Skillset to build a business out of sustainability, providing services to clients and communities that helped them with everything from energy efficiency to culture change. Ashley now runs his own company, Constructive Energy, which is the vehicle for a range of consulting and business services, a major core of which is to support the growth of the Green Homes Group. He looks forward to the day when building green is the norm, right around the world.

Kendall Clifton-Short

Director, The Purpose:Fully


Co-Creating Solutions to Regional Challenges using Thinkathons

Thinkathons are the new way to approach co-developing solutions to big audacious important problems. They are facilitated gatherings of people from a variety of perspectives.

They bring together creative and diverse minds to find radical new approaches and scaleable solutions to tough problems. They are fantastic ways to unlock new sustainability opportunities, which can become not just thoughts in a chamber but real and scaleable solutions.

In a recent Thinkathon hosted by, Sarah George explained, “in just 150mins 24 individuals united around a common cause and developed two highly innovative and potentially game changing solutions which could take days, weeks, months or even years for large corporates to conceptualise themselves.”

The Thinkathon is a real opportunity to bring together diverse voices of regional Australia to develop solutions to challenges they are intimately invested in.


Kendall is currently the Director of The Purpose:Fully, a boutique consulting firm that facilitates powerful conversations designd to increase and amplify the social and environmental impact of organisations across the USA and Australia. She is primarily a practitioner who does some research in her work. Kendall recently had her research around ‘Educating for an Emerging Future’ published by the IAFOR.

Teona Cousin

Manager Economic Development and Tourism, Mackay Regional Council


Diversification of a Resources Economy Through Tourism

Historically, Mackay served as a popular domestic holiday destination with access to the Great Barrier Reef and tropical sandy beaches being a major draw card and part of the region’s culture. Fast forward to 2015 and Mackay’s reputation was predominately related to the resources sector.

This shift was predominately due to visitors during the mining boom being unable to find accommodation with all hotels, motels and tourist parks booked out by the mining workforce. Should accommodation become available, nightly room rates were often exorbitantly overpriced and short-term accommodation was commonly replaced with long-term residents. The damage this caused to our region’s reputation has been challenging to overcome.

Council’s response has come in the form of proactively working towards diversifying the region’s economic base by prioritising new opportunities in the tourism sector. In the past two years Council has prepared three tourism related Strategies – the Mackay Recreational Fishing Strategy, Mackay Region Mountain Bike Strategy and the Mackay Recreational Vehicle Strategy.

The approach taken to diversify Mackay’s economy through growth in the tourism industry has been undertaken in a coordinated and strategic fashion. Our approach has demonstrated the importance of playing to a region’s natural strengths.

The quantitative benefits derived from investing in our natural strengths in the tourism industry will be more measurable in the longer-term. Nevertheless, the green-shoots from the strategic direction that Council has taken are starting to become evident with the region attracting positive visitation growth for the sixth quarter in a row.


Teona Cousin is an experienced economic development practitioner with roles in community development, federal and local government.

Following graduation from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Economics, Teona completed the Economic Specialist Graduate Program with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations in Canberra. Teona has spent most of her career working in the Hunter Region with roles at Lake Macquarie City Council, CatholicCare and Singleton Council.

Teona is currently Manager Economic Development and Tourism at Mackay Regional Council, ensuring the responsive and effective delivery of Council responsibilities in the areas of economic development, tourism, industry engagement, investment facilitation and events attraction.

Cr Matthew Hannan

Mayor, Berrigan Shire Council


Cr Matthew Hannan is serving his second term as Mayor and third term as a Berrigan Shire Councillor. Matt’s day job is as a student learning support officer at the local primary school - a role he has enjoyed for the last 16 years.

Since being elected to Council, Matt has championed the role of a local councillor and the benefits of being involved in decision making for the future of the local community. He is a strong advocate for community involvement in section 355 Committees and volunteers in many local organisations himself. Matt participates in a variety of sports and is a State representative lawn bowler.

Matt also enjoys being part of the Finley community gym and was recently successful in securing a substantial grant that will provide free classes, twice a week for the next 12 months, for women affected by drought. Matt is passionate about the communities of the Berrigan Shire and is a constant campaigner for the region as a wonderful place to Live, Work and Invest.

Maxine Loynd

General Manager, Regional Policy, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities


Coming soon.


This presentation will explore international best practice in regional development policy and how it may be translated to the Australian context. It will consider the work being undertaken in other countries and by OECD Regional Development Policy Committee on issues including the merits of place-based policy, the need for effective partnerships, and the major long-term trends impacting regional communities and economies.

Dr Tom Measham

Research Group Leader, CSIRO


Dr Tom Measham leads the Adaptive Communities and Industries Group at CSIRO which brings together 30 social scientists and economists focused on how regional communities and economies are affected by and engage with the social and economic opportunities and challenges which face them. Tom has over 20 years’ experience spanning diverse industries and communities throughout regional Australia. He has contributed as an expert adviser to several national and international committees and serves as Associate Editor for two international academic journals. He holds a PhD from Australian National University where he continues to perform the role of Adjunct Associate Professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society.

Jan Owen AM Hon DLitt, DUniv

Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Young Australians


Jan Owen is a social entrepreneur, innovator, influencer and author.

As CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians for the past 8 years, Jan has led the organisation’s strategic mission to equip young people to create, lead and thrive into the future. This focus has included ground-breaking research regarding the future of work and education for young Australians; the largest in-school entrepreneurship and youth social enterprise programs in the nation; and the development and launch of several new initiatives including YLab, FYA’s youth-led social enterprise.

Jan’s lifelong work and commitment to unleashing the talent of young people, driving social innovation and entrepreneurship, and transforming education has seen her recognised as one of Australia’s ‘True Leaders’ in 2018 and the Inaugural Australian Financial Review and Westpac ‘Woman of Influence’ in 2012.

Jan has been awarded honorary Doctorates from the University of Sydney and Murdoch University in Perth and membership to the Order of Australia in 2000 for services to the Australian community.

Jan is the author of Every Childhood Lasts a Lifetime (1996) and The Future Chasers (2014).

Prof Lee Pugalis

Professor of Urban Studies, Institute for Public Policy and Governance


Professor Lee Pugalis is an international urban scholar, whose research traverses local and regional economic development, urban regeneration, and strategic planning. He has a particular interest in metropolitan governance and urban entrepreneurship.

Lee is a chartered town planner and economic development officer who gained undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral qualifications from Newcastle University in England. Before taking up an academic position Lee directed a sub-regional economic partnership and was a regeneration specialist advisor to a Regional Development Agency. He has also worked for local, regional and national government in the UK including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Lee is an editor of the journals Regional Studies, Regional Science and Local Economy, and is also a member of 15 international editorial boards. He is also an ambassador for the development of early career researchers through his roles as a World Social Science Fellow and a member of the Global Young Academy.

Liz Ritchie

Co-Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute

In February 2019, Liz Ritchie became the co-CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, after joining in 2018 as the General Manager Strategy and Partnerships. For almost 20 years, Liz has worked across the corporate, government and the not for profit sector, and she specialises in leading organisational transformation to build a sustainable future. Liz is a change agent, a marketer, a researcher and an extremely passionate advocate for regional Australia, heralding from Deniliquin, in NSW.

Most recently Liz has held leadership role of Regional General Manager with Westpac Commercial Bank (2016-18) where she managed a team of 20 people. Previously, Liz was the State Director for CEDA, in Western Australia from late 2011, and before that, held a range of leadership roles with CEDA since 2008 in Victoria.

In October 2018, Liz was appointed by The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to be a non-government independent member of the Indonesian – Australia partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector (Partnership).

Liz is also a gender advocate promoting the significance of women in our society, as such she was a founding Director of the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC) and has recently stepped down but remains a National Ambassador.

In 2015, Liz was a Business News 40 Under 40 Winner in WA, recognised for her contribution to business and the community. In the same year, Liz became a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Liz also holds a Master of Applied Science (Organisational Dynamics) from RMIT, and a Bachelor of Public Relations, RMIT. Most recently, Liz has completed the Institute of Executive Leadership and Coaching Certificate in 2017.

Paul Rosair

Principal, NAJA Business Consultancy Services


The Ord River Irrigation Scheme Journey

This presentation will outline the history of the Ord Irrigation Scheme and the challenges it has faced over the years. For the people of Kununurra, the water storage of Lake Argyle is its defining point of difference and opportunity for prosperity. Broad acre cropping in the 1960’s and 1970’s proved problematic, but mixed crops grown in the 1980’s proved successful.

The 1990’s saw mixed results: sugar cane become the major crop over 14,000 hectares of irrigated land: the introduction of the Native Title Act in 1993 bought new challenges, whilst in 1997, the doubling of the storage of Lake Argyle in order to install a Hydropower plant created an opportunity to expand the Scheme.

In 2005 the Ord Final Agreement was signed, a key milestone in the history of the Scheme.
With the closure of the sugar mill in 2007 the need for government funding to expand the irrigation district was identified by the WA government. The WA Royalties for Region fund (Est. 2008) provided the necessary investment to establish the infrastructure, roads and irrigation channels to support the Scheme, just as governments did in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The value of the irrigated agriculture in the Ord, is in the order of $133 million per year, and employs around 400 people in the East Kimberley region, yet today the Ord Irrigation Cooperative is facing another challenge with the State Government endeavouring to reduce its water entitlement and threaten its future business security.


Paul Rosair leads NAJA Business Consulting Services which is a consultancy focused on working with organisations on strategic development projects and supporting them to navigate government planning, funding and approvals processes.

Prior to establishing NAJA in 2014, Paul held high level state government positions, overseeing significant state programs – most notably Paul, as Director General, lead the establishment and administration of the State’s $10.5 billion Royalties for Regions Program in his role as Director General of the Department of Regional Development and Lands. Paul brings with him a background of having worked at the most senior levels in Regional Development, Lands Management, Aboriginal Affairs and Native Title, Local Government, Water Management, Natural Resource Management, Community Development, Tourism, Environment Regulation, Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

Paul offers his experience in conceptualising, leading and implementing major state projects in unique combination with his connections with key influencers and decision makers at the highest levels of government. This is complemented by his strong understanding of the nuances of government and the complexities of many of the processes that proponents need to negotiate to implement their projects. Paul’s specialty is working with clients on key projects that require the development of strong proposals, along with strategic advice, to assist their projects gain traction.

With an engaging and open style, Paul works effectively to connect with stakeholders and understand their needs and priorities. With many years’ experience negotiating and brokering agreement on major projects, Paul is adept at driving projects to implementation.

Dr Daniel Terrill

Partner, Deloitte Access Economics Pty Ltd


Our regions are of critical importance to Australia’s economic prosperity. But our regional economies face a myriad of constant challenges; new and innovative technology disrupting traditional processes and services, changing regional economic structures, increasing community expectations relating to service access and quality, in additional to ever present global macroeconomic challenges posing headwinds for regional economies unable to adapt. In the face of such challenges, current drivers of economic activity may not be what drives future economic prosperity. Ultimately, the sustained, long-term economic prosperity of our regions requires us understanding both what our regions do well, combined with what the world wants. Finding that sweet spot in an increasingly globalised world will lead necessarily lead different regions down very different paths.


Dr Terrill is an economist who is passionate about the economic prosperity of Australia and its regions. He specializes in agribusiness, natural resources and urban and regional planning - all topics bound together through the common theme of economic geography, and the challenges of using scarce resources like land and water most efficiently to promote regional economic welfare. He has over fifteen years economic consulting experience throughout regional Australia and internationally, where his work often involves understanding the role of primary production and natural resource management in sustaining economies. He has a PhD. in agricultural and environmental economics, and he is the Agribusiness Group Lead Partner for Deloitte Australia. He is intimately familiar with the Northern Victoria and Riverina regions, by virtue a family farming (livestock and cropping) background in northeast Victoria.

Peter Waterman

Adjunct Professor, Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), Charles Sturt University


Peter Waterman has professional qualifications in geography, social science, urban planning and environmental management. Over the past 55 years he has gained professional experience as: a secondary school teacher; military officer; officer of government; academic; advisor to governments and boards of commercial enterprises; consultant and lobbyist; and a research director and managing director of private companies. In 1970, Peter co-foundered one of the first environmental consultancy companies in Australia. Since then he has provided a wide range of consultant services across the land use planning and environmental management fields for public and private sector clients in Australia and overseas.

Currently, Peter is the Managing Director of Environmental Management Services (EMS) a boutique consulting company that he established in 1977 and incorporated in 1984. Operationally, EMS integrates engineering, management and science in seeking innovative solutions for sustainable regional and local development. In this capacity, Peter provides services to clients from business, industry, governments and community based organisations. Additionally, Peter is an Adjunct Professor-Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Stuart University (ILWS-CSU) and an Adjunct Associate Professor-Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering. University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).

Current collaborative activities with ILWS-CSU and SEGRA include:

Dr Chris Yeats

Executive Director, Geological Survey of NSW, Department of Planning and Environment, NSW Government


Understanding what’s Beneath our Feet: the role of the Geological Survey of NSW in strategic land use planning

The geology of NSW is literally the bedrock of the state. The rich and varied landscape we enjoy today is the product of almost 2 billion years of geological evolution, which has seen massive shifts in climate, huge variations in sea level, and periods of intense volcanic and earthquake activity. The rocks beneath our feet provide the mineral and energy resources required to sustain our modern lifestyles, many of the raw construction materials required to build roads, housing and other vital infrastructure, and the minerals that make up our soils, which are essential for both agriculture and native biodiversity.

The Geological Survey of NSW (GSNSW) was established in 1875 and is the state’s premier geoscientific agency. GSNSW’s primary purpose, which has remained unchanged for over 140 years, is to collect, interpret and deliver geoscientific information to inform the government, resource industry and community about the state’s geology and its renewable, mineral, coal and petroleum resources.

GSNSW plays a key role in support of balanced land use planning, through provision of expert advice on geological and resource potential to support decisions by planners, consent authorities and other statutory authorities. The diverse range of referrals considered by GSNSW includes proposals for rezoning of land, applications for development (including mines, quarries and renewable energy projects, among others), and proposals to increase the area of the NSW Reserve Estate (National Parks and State Conservation Areas). The Branch also provides advice with regard to Aboriginal Land Claims, biodiversity stewardship agreements, agricultural land mapping, mine subsidence zoning, and closure of Crown roads.


Chris Yeats is an ore deposit geologist and geochemist with almost 30 years’ experience in precious and base metal exploration and research, in terranes ranging in age from the some of the world’s oldest rocks to modern active seafloor hydrothermal systems.

Chris joined the Geological Survey of NSW (GSNSW) as Executive Director in June 2015. Prior to this, he spent 17 years as a researcher and manager at CSIRO, where his work focused on the formation of and exploration for gold and base metal deposits in ancient and modern terranes. He has published extensively on gold and base metal systems, and has approximately 500 career citations. In October 2018, he was named a Fellow of the Geological Society of Australia for his significant scientific contribution and service to Australian geoscience.

As head of GSNSW, Chris leads a multidisciplinary team of approximately 100 geoscientists who collect, synthesise, manage and deliver geological, geophysical, geochemical and geospatial data to inform all levels of government, the resource industry and the community about the state’s geology, and mineral, coal, petroleum and renewable energy resources. GSNSW also plays a key role in strategic land use planning on a local, regional and statewide scale, through the provision of expert geoscientific adviceto local and state government agencies.

GSNSW has also begun working with local councils and other organizations to develop geotrails and other tourism opportunities based around geological features and landscape. Free geotourism brochures have been produced for Broken Hill, Cobar and the Newcastle Coast, and a mobile app-based geotrail has been developed for the coast at Port Macquarie. Further geotrails are currently in development for Newcastle and the Warrumbungle National Park, with more to follow.

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