New Chair for Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef and Senator for Queensland

The Hon Leanne Linard MP, Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian and Queensland governments have welcomed Professor Margaret Sheil AO as the incoming Chair of the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel.

Professor Sheil is a highly respected and distinguished scientist who has held many leadership positions, including her current role as Vice-Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology.

The panel provides independent advice to the Australian and Queensland governments on a range of issues including emerging scientific matters for the Great Barrier Reef, its health and long-term sustainability, and supporting advice for the Reef 2050 Plan.

The Reef 2050 Plan is the Australian and Queensland government’s overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef to 2050. It is jointly delivered in collaboration with local governments, Traditional Owners, researchers, industries and communities.

Professor Sheil was jointly appointed by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, and the Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, following the retirement of former chair, Professor Ian Chubb, in mid-2023.

Dr Russell Reichelt has served as the interim chair of the panel since July.

Quotes attributable to the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

“The Great Barrier Reef is a global icon that is part of Australia’s cultural and natural identity.

“Reliable, high-quality and independent science advice, alongside First Nations knowledge, is crucial to inform help better protect the Reef.

“I would like to thank Professor Chubb for his service and the high-quality science, and to Dr Russell Reichelt as the interim chair.

“I’m delighted to welcome Margaret into this important role, and I look forward to working alongside her, Minister Linard and Senator Green to safeguard one of Australia’s most important natural and cultural wonders for current and future generations.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Leanne Linard:

“The Australian and Queensland governments have a strong, cooperative approach to protecting, conserving and managing our precious Great Barrier Reef, with the Reef 2050 Plan guiding our collaborative efforts towards this.

“The Independent Expert Panel is critical in that it provides the necessary scientific and expert advice to support the Reef 2050 Plan as well as associated initiatives like the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

“Professor Sheil has previously provided advice to government on national science priorities and has chaired high-profile committees and I look forward to working with her and the rest of the Independent Expert Panel to ensure the protection of our unique and much-loved Reef.”

Quotes attributable to Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green:

“Professor Sheil’s broad and extensive experience in senior scientific leadership roles comes at a pivotal moment for the future of the Reef and the Independent Expert Panel will go from strength to strength under Margaret’s leadership.

“I want to thank the former Chair, Professor Chubb, and interim Chair, Dr Reichelt, for their invaluable contributions.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Margaret Sheil AO:

“Already this year we have seen back-to-back cyclones compound the many challenges facing our Great Barrier Reef. I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead the Independent Expert Panel as part of the Reef 2050 Plan to put our best scientific minds together to guide governments in the restoration and preservation of the Reef into the future.

“In 2023, I led a comprehensive review into the Australian Research Council to help grow knowledge and innovation in Australia and strengthen our reputation for research excellence.

“The strength of this research excellence can be seen in the Australian scientific community’s commitment to the care and protection of the 2900 reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders.

“Australian researchers lead the world in innovative reef research with current advances in coral rubble stabilisation, coral adhesion and reef shading all helping to reverse coral damage and to protect this precious marine environment.

“I look forward to providing expert scientific advice to Australian and Queensland ministers as part of their long-term sustainability plan.”


Professor Margaret Shiel AO – Chair of the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel

Professor Margaret Shiel currently serves as the Vice-Chancellor and President of Queensland University of Technology. Previous roles include Provost at the University of Melbourne from 2012 until 2017, and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council from 2007 until 2012.

In 2017, Professor Sheil was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to science and higher education as an academic and administrator, through significant contributions to the national research landscape, and to performance standards.

/Public Release. View in full here.