New blood across RDC boards

Senator the Hon Murray Watt
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

A new era of leadership has dawned at three of Australia’s Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), after new board members were appointed for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and AgriFutures Australia.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said he was pleased to see renewal across the RDCs and more diverse appointments taking place.

“These new appointments bolster the important role RDCs have to play in the agriculture sector,” Minister Watt said.

“RDCs are a key pillar in Australia’s agricultural innovation system, and the work they oversee ripples through the industry.

“They support important R&D to assist their respective sectors to lift their production, sustainability and profitability, while supporting the Australian Government’s agricultural priorities of biosecurity, climate-smart production, trade, Indigenous engagement and workforce development.

“These new appointments are a steady mix of reappointments and new faces, allowing for experience to guide the boards while injecting fresh ideas and new directions into the RDCs.

“All appointees bring strong expertise in fields like agriculture, research, business and public policy, adding to RDC leadership.

“I am proud that the new appointments have also improved the diversity of RDC Boards, including by appointing more women, and people from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“This will ensure that the RDCs can better represent the diversity of the agricultural industries that they serve.

“I would also like to thank all outgoing directors for their contributions to their respective RDCs.”

Fast facts:

  • Mr John Woods has been reappointed as GRDC Chairperson for a further 12-month term, beginning 1 October 2023.
    • GRDC Chairperson since 2016 and former GRDC Director 2012-2016, Owner and Manager Booroola Pastoral Company since 1999, Bachelor of Applied Science (Rural Technology), University of Queensland.
  • The newly appointed GRDC non-executive directors, beginning 1 October 2023 for a three-year term, are:
    • Mr Richard Heath, New South Wales (reappointment) – GRDC Director since 2017; Executive Director, Australian Farm Institute since 2018; Bachelor of Science (Hons), University of Sydney.
    • Mrs Sharon Starick, South Australia (reappointment) – GRDC Director since 2018; Primary producer South Australia since 1993 and board director; Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), Plant Science Department, University of Adelaide.
    • Mr Bob Nixon, Western Australia (reappointment) – GRDC Director since 2020; Over two decades running a family farm in the Central Wheatbelt of Western Australia; Nuffield Scholar.
    • Ms Kellie Benda, Western Australia (new appointment) – Professional non-executive Director since 2004; Master of Applied Finance, Macquarie University; Bachelor of Laws, University of Western Australia; Bachelor of Arts (Industrial Relations), University of WA.
    • Mr Shaun Coffey, Queensland (new appointment) – Shaun Coffey & Associates Consultancy and Advisory Service since 2013; Interim CEO, Sugar Research Australia; Master of Agricultural Science, University of Melbourne; Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), University of Melbourne.
    • Ms Natalie Sommerville, South Australia (new appointment) – Primary producer / farmer, Windjara Ag, South Australia since 2004; Bachelor of Applied Science (Natural Resources Management and Agriculture), University of Adelaide.
    • Ms Bindi Turner, New South Wales (new appointment) – Chief Investment Officer, Agri Carbon Investments; Executive Master of Business Administration, Melbourne Business School; Graduate Certificate Agribusiness, Marcus Oldham College; Graduate Diploma Chartered Accounting, Institute of Charted Accountants; Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies), University of Sydney.
  • The newly appointed CRDC non-executive directors, beginning 1 October 2023 for a three-year term, are:
    • Mr Ross Burnett, Queensland (reappointment) – Owner and Director, Barwin Agriculture Pty Ltd and Burnett Farming since 2004; CRDC Director since 2020; Bachelor of Agricultural Science, University of Queensland.
    • Ms Julie Bird, South Australia (new appointment) – Business Owner, Say It With Flowers since 2012; former Chief Executive Officer, Almond Board of Australia (2001-2010); Master of Business Administration (Executive), RMIT University, Melbourne.
    • The Hon Niall Blair, New South Wales (new appointment) – Executive Director, Blair & Advisors and company director since 2019; former Member of Parliament, NSW Legislative Council (2011-2019) and NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Water, Land, Trade and Industry (2015-2019); Bachelor of Applied Science (Horticulture), University of Western Sydney.
    • Ms Sally Ceeney, New South Wales (new appointment) – Owner/Manager farming business, Trangie NSW since 2005; former Research Direction and Stewardship Policy Manager, Cotton Australia (2019-2023); Bachelor of Systems Agricultural, University of Western Sydney.
    • Mr Bernie George, New South Wales (new appointment) – Manager, Compliance & Water Services, Australian Food and Fibre; Master of Business Administration, Diploma of Natural Resources and Bachelor of Agricultural Economics, University of New England
    • Ms Michelle Tierney, New South Wales (new appointment) – Professional non-executive Director; Master of Business Administration and Postgraduate Diploma Business Administration, Central Queensland University; Bachelor of Arts, Journalism and Communication, University of Queensland.
  • The newly appointed AgriFutures Australia non-executive directors, beginning 1 October 2023 for a three-year term, are:
    • Ms Cindy Cassidy, New South Wales (reappointment) – AgriFutures Australia Director since 2020; Executive Director, Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub since 2021; former CEO, FarmLink Research Limited (2013-2020); Master of Agriculture (Plant Breeding), Sydney University; Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), Macquarie University.
    • Professor Andrew Harris, New South Wales (reappointment) – AgriFutures Australia Director and Deputy Chairperson since 2020; Group Director, Technical Futures; Lead Director, Engineering Excellence Group, Laing O’Rourke and Professor of Engineering and IT, University of Sydney since 2011; PhD (Engineering) University of Cambridge; Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and Bachelor of Science (Chemistry and Environmental Science), University of Queensland.
    • Mr Danny Le Feuvre, South Australia (reappointment) – AgriFutures Australia Director since 2020; CEO Australian Honey Bee Industry Council since 2022; former Managing Director, Australian Bee Services (2007-2022); Masters of Agribusiness, University of Adelaide; Bachelor of Applied Science, University of Melbourne.
    • Professor Andrew Campbell, Victoria (new appointment) – Farmer and farm forester, Cavendish Victoria; former CEO, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and Commissioner, Australian Commission for International Agricultural Research (2016-2023); Master of Science, Wageningen, The Netherlands; Bachelor of Forest Science, University of Melbourne; Diploma of Forestry, Creswick.
    • Emeritus Professor Julie Cotter, Queensland (new appointment) – Director, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Centre Board since 2017; former Professor (2006-2017) and Research Centre Director, Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development, University of Southern Queensland (2010-2017); Fellow CPA Australia; Chartered Accountant; PhD and Bachelor of Commerce (Honours), University of Queensland.
    • Dr Harjeet Khanna, Queensland (new appointment) – Managing Director, HarOMICS; former Executive Manager and Program Manager, Sugar Research Australia (2013-2019); PhD in Agricultural Botany, CCS University, India and University of Cambridge, UK; Master of Science (Genetics) and Bachelor of Science (Botany), University of Delhi, India.
    • Mr Matthew Macfarlane, Western Australia (new appointment) – CEO and Managing Director, Icetana Ltd since 2018; Chartered Accountant, Australia & New Zealand; Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance), University of Western Australia.

/Public Release. View in full here.