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Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Board

The Authority Board, led by the Chairperson, is responsible for the management of the Marine Park under the Marine Park Act.

New Authority governance arrangements commenced on 29 October 2018, separating the role of the Chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer. The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Authority and is the accountable authority and agency head for the purposes of the PGPA Act and the Public Service Act 1999, respectively.

The Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer and members of the Authority Board are chosen by the Minister for the Environment and appointed by the Governor-General.

The Marine Park Act requires the Authority Board to include a member with qualifications or extensive experience in a field related to the functions of the Authority, a member with knowledge of or experience in the tourism industry, a member nominated by the Queensland Government, and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with knowledge of or experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues related to the Marine Park.

There are currently five members recruited to the Authority Board with a further two positions to be recruited. The recruitment process for a member representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests is currently underway and the process to recruit a further general member will commence in 2019.

Under the new governance arrangements, the number of Authority Board meetings will increase to six per calendar year.

Membership of the Authority Board

Chairperson: Dr Ian Poiner

Head and shoulders image of Dr Ian Poiner Chairperson. Dr Poiner is wearing a suit and tie and is smiling at the cameraChairperson Dr Ian Poiner Dr Poiner is a highly respected marine scientist with a long history of involvement in Great Barrier Reef science and conservation.

His recent roles include Chair of the Australian and New Zealand International Ocean Discovery Program Consortium, the CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Advisory Committee, Marine National Facility Steering Committee and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. Dr Poiner is also the Patron of the Australian Marine Sciences Association.

Following a successful research career at CSIRO (1985–2004), Dr Poiner served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Marine Science from 2004 to 2011. He was a member of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life from 2002 and its Chair from 2007 to 2013. From 2012 to 2016, he was Chair of the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership Science Panel.

In 2008, Dr Poiner was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in recognition of his leadership of research and development based enterprises for the benefit of marine science, the conservation of some of the most iconic marine life and marine habitats on Earth including the Great Barrier Reef, and the development of the marine industry.

In 2013, James Cook University awarded Dr Poiner an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding service and distinguished public contribution to the northern Queensland community and exceptional service rendered to the University, comprising of academic excellence and the exercise of outstanding leadership. Dr Poiner holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) 1A Zoology and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Queensland.

On 29 October 2018, Dr Poiner was appointed as the part-time Chairperson of the Authority Board for a term of four years and six months. Dr Poiner replaced previous Chairperson Dr Russell Reichelt who retired in 2018 after 11 years with the Authority.

Chief Executive Officer: Mr Josh Thomas

Head and shoulders image of Chief Executive Officer Mr Josh Thomas. He is wearing a suit and tie and smiling at the cameraChief Executive Officer Mr Josh ThomasMr Thomas was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Authority in 2019, for a term of five years. Mr Thomas has more than 15 years of experience in the public and private sector in Australia and overseas. He has helped shape and lead environmental policy and programs for the Great Barrier Reef and terrestrial natural resource management.

Mr Thomas has worked in a number of senior public sector roles and across the environment, agriculture and finance portfolios, as well as in federal Ministerial offices. He has a strong track record of public engagement on matters affecting Australia’s World Heritage sites, and through major environmental programs such as the Biodiversity Fund and Caring for our Country.

Mr Thomas’ policy experience in the marine environment extends across the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments, to migratory and endangered species, whaling matters, marine parks and Antarctica. He is committed to enhancing Australia’s natural environment and has been a strong advocate for incorporating both contemporary science and Indigenous traditional knowledge into environmental management throughout his career.

Mr Thomas lives in Townsville and holds a Master’s of International Affairs, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Arts (Honours).

Member: Ms Wendy Morris

Head and shoulders image of Ms Wendy Morris. Ms Morris is wearing a jacket and scarf and is standing by the oceanMember Ms Wendy MorrisMs Morris developed a passion for the Reef while sailing and exploring the Far Northern Reefs after arriving in Port Douglas in 1974. After graduating from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology/Zoology, she subsequently completed an Honours degree at Murdoch University with a thesis on desert bird communities. She started the first marine biologist guided snorkelling tours with her company Reef Biosearch on Quicksilver from Port Douglas in 1986, and continues to be a frequent Reef explorer and photographer.

Since 1990, Ms Morris has been involved in the marketing and management of multiple tourism businesses including reef charter vessels, hotels, resorts and attractions. Through her family’s company, she was recently involved in the successful establishment of the Mt Emerald Windfarm on the Atherton Tablelands.

Apart from private companies, her board appointments have included Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, Advance Cairns and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. Ms Morris is currently Chair of Tourism Tropical North Queensland. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2017, Ms Morris was awarded the Marie Watson Blake Award for outstanding contribution by an individual by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

Ms Morris was appointed as a part-time member of the Authority Board for five years effective from 7 February 2019.

Member: Professor Emma Johnston AO

Head and shoulders image of Professor Emma Johnston AO. She is wearing a blue top and chunky necklace and is standing against a pale backgroundMember Prof Emma Johnston AOEmma Johnston is an award-winning scientist, educator and communicator, and is the Dean of Science and a professor of marine ecology and ecotoxicology at the University of New South Wales. Professor Johnston investigates human impacts on marine ecosystems, with a particular emphasis on stress ecology, invasion biology and the development of biomonitoring tools. She has published more than 100 journal articles in coastal ecology. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of Melbourne in 1997 and obtained a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2002.

Professor Johnston has led more than 20 major research projects for industry, government, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Antarctic Science Program. From 2010 to 2014 she was an Australian Research Fellow for the Australian Research Council, and in 2012 became the inaugural Director of the flagship Sydney Harbour Research Program for the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. She is currently the lead author of the Australian Government’s State of Environment Report for the Australian Coast, and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Johnston has received a string of awards including the inaugural Australian Academy of Science Nancy Millis Medal (2014), the Eureka Prize for the public communication of science (2015) and the Hynes Award from the Canadian Rivers Institute (2016). Professor Johnston was a recipient of the Office of the Order of Australia (June 2018) and is a senior advisor to both government and industry, and is Vice-President of Science and Technology Australia.

Professor Johnston was appointed as a part-time member of the Authority Board for five years effective from 5 May 2016.

Member: Mr Dave Stewart

Head and shoulders image of Mr Dave Stewart. He is wearing a suit and is smiling at the cameraMember Mr Dave StewartDave Stewart was appointed Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet in February 2015.

Prior to this role, he was the Secretary for Transport for New South Wales, where he led around 27,000 people shaping planning, policy and delivery of public transport, roads and freight across New South Wales.

After a long career in local government and engineering construction in Australia and the United Kingdom, Mr Stewart joined the Queensland Government in 2006 as Deputy Coordinator-General within the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, where he was responsible for delivering major water and road projects.

From June 2008, he was the Director-General of Queensland Transport and then the Department of Transport and Main Roads, overseeing the integration of organisations to a new customer-focused model. His primary responsibility was transport leadership including strategic policy and planning, system stewardship, infrastructure delivery and service delivery.

One of his highlights as the Director-General has been participating in the community champions program for Indigenous communities, where he regularly visited Gulf communities and assisted them with accessing much-needed government services.

He is passionate about regional Queensland and engaging directly with residents, business, government and community leaders.

He is a civil engineer and holds Masters degrees in Business and Engineering Science. He completed an executive program at Harvard University looking at private sector involvement in infrastructure delivery. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and an Honorary Fellow, Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics.

Mr Stewart was appointed as a part-time member of the Authority Board on 23 July 2015 for a three-year term, concluding on 22 July 2018 and was recently re-appointed the Queensland member of the Authority Board on 21 June 2018 for five years effective from 23 July 2018.

Authority Board meeting schedule

During 2018–19, the Authority Board held five meetings (Table 8).

Meetings of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Board 2018-19

Meeting

Date

Location

Attendance

MPA 251

18 September 2018

Canberra

Present: Dr Russell Reichelt, Chairperson; Prof Emma Johnston AO, member; Ms Margie McKenzie[1], member (teleconference 9 am–12.15 pm AEST), Mr Dave Stewart, member

Apologies: Ms Melissa George[2], member

MPA 252

4 December 2018

Townsville

Present: Dr Ian Poiner, Chairperson; Mr Bruce Elliot, Acting CEO; Prof Emma Johnston AO, member (by virtual meeting); Mr Dave Stewart, member (by virtual meeting)

Apologies: Mr Dave Stewart (from 12.41 pm AEST), member

MPA 253

22 March 2019

Townsville

Present: Dr Ian Poiner, Chairperson; Mr Josh Thomas, CEO; Prof Emma Johnston AO, member (teleconference); Mr Dave Stewart, member; Ms Wendy Morris, member

Apologies: Nil

MPA 254

10 May 2019

Airlie Beach

Present: Dr Ian Poiner, Chairperson; Mr Josh Thomas, CEO; Prof Emma Johnston AO, member (teleconference); Mr Dave Stewart, member; Ms Wendy Morris, member

Apologies: Nil

MPA 255

25 June 2019

Townsville

Present: Dr Ian Poiner, Chairperson; Mr Josh Thomas, CEO; Prof Emma Johnston AO, member; Mr Dave Stewart, member; Ms Wendy Morris, member

Apologies: Mr Dave Stewart (from 12 pm AEST), member

[1] Ms Margie McKenzie was reappointed for a second term on 21 June 2018; however she tendered her resignation on 24 September 2018 which was accepted by the Governor General on the same date.

[2] Ms Melissa George had her second term extended for one year from 22 November 2017, her term expired on 21 November 2018