Friday 17 September, 2021



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Melanie Shannon

What role does agriculture play in supporting a resilient regional Queensland? This is your chance to connect with experts from across Australia.

Australia… the land of drought and flooding rains. Resilience is supposedly baked into our DNA: running like red dust through the veins of farmers and graziers; iconic in the imagery of rural and regional Australia and dropping easily from the lips of our elected representatives like an impenetrable defensive shield whenever a disaster strikes.

But what does it mean to be a resilient region? What impact will climate change have? Should farmers be making money from carbon? Are our economic and political models working to build regional resilience in the 21st century? As the backbone of rural and regional Queensland – what role do farmers play in ensuring our communities are vibrant, thriving and resilient for generations to come?

Featuring leading Australian experts in the paddock, laboratory and boardroom: the Farmers for Climate Action Resilient Regions online conference seeks to answer these questions – offering a unique opportunity to explore the opportunities and risks facing regional Queensland.

Professor Mark Howden will present the key note presentation and Professor Anne Tiernan will MC the event.

Attendees will have their chance to take a deep dive into the opportunities presented by carbon, biodiversity and carbon neutral agriculture, hear firsthand from experts across the supply chain on the risks, opportunities and trends shaping 21st century agribusiness and explore the shaping forces of politics and economics in positioning our regions to prosper into the future.

Photo credit: Angus Emmott

Preview program


Professor Mark Howden

Professor Mark Howden is Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University.He is also an Honorary Professor at Melbourne University, a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is a member of the ACT Climate Change Council. He was on the US Federal Advisory Committee for the 3rd National Climate Assessment, was a member of the Australian National Climate Science Advisory Committee and contributes to several major national and international science and policy advisory bodies.

Mark has worked on climate variability, climate change, innovation and adoption issues for over 30 years in partnership with many industry, community and policy groups via both research and science-policy roles. Mark has over 420 publications of different types and helped develop both the national and international greenhouse gas inventories that are a fundamental part of the Paris Agreement and has assessed sustainable ways to reduce emissions. He has been a major contributor to the IPCC since 1991, with roles in the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and now Sixth Assessment Reports, sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other IPCC participants and Al Gore.

Dr Anne Tiernan

Dr Anne Tiernan is a political scientist and policy researcher, whose careers span higher education, federal and state government, consultancy and teaching. Anne is respected for her independent, research-informed analysis and commentary on national politics, public administration and public policy, and consults regularly to Australian governments at all levels. Anne is a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, and a Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). An Adjunct Professor with Griffith University, and previously a member of the University’s senior leadership team, Anne served as inaugural Dean (Engagement) of the Griffith Business School, where she led development of the Group’s internationally acknowledged Engagement Strategy and operating model. She was founding Director of the Policy Innovation Hub and a suite of other initiatives that cemented Griffith’s reputation as Australia’s most engaged university.

Professor Karen Hussey

Professor Karen Hussey is Deputy Director General, Environmental Policy and Programs in the Queensland Department of Environment and Science where she leads the Government’s policy and programs relating to the Great Barrier Reef, climate change, resource recovery and waste, biodiversity conservation, and broader environmental policy, for example relating to mine rehabilitation, wetlands and migratory birds. Prior to taking up the role, Karen was inaugural director of the University of Queensland’s Centre for Policy Futures. Trained as a political scientist and economist, Karen’s research focused on the policy, governance and regulatory implications of a wide range of policy challenges, including climate change, trade liberalisation, new and emerging technologies, and science, research and innovation.

Kerren Crosthwaite

Kerren Crosthwaite is the First Assistant Secretary of Drought and Bushfire Response Division in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. In this role she has led the development and implementation of government policy and programs to support primary producers and other stakeholders facing challenges such as drought and the Black Summer bushfires; and is overseeing the delivery of the $5bn Future Drought Fund. Her Division is responsible for drought and other policy and programs including Farm Household Allowance, the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Farm Management Deposits, and farm financial policy including concessional lending.

Since moving to Canberra from Perth as a graduate in 2003, Kerren has worked on major workplace relations reforms including Workchoices and the Fair Work Act, and delivering federal budgets at the Department of Finance.

Kerren has held leadership roles in a number of Australian Government agencies in Canberra and Perth, including the Department of Finance, the Department of Employment and the Fair Work Ombudsman. She has bachelor degrees in Law and Economics, and a Master of Public Policy and Management.

As a parent of a teen and an ultramarathon runner, Kerren models an inclusive style of leadership that encourages people to balance delivering excellent work that creates public value, alongside the other important facets of their lives.

Dr Georgina Davis

Georgina is the Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF), which is the united voice of agriculture in Queensland, representing the interests of national and peak state agriculture organisations. QFF engages in a broad range of economic, social, environmental and regional issues of strategic importance to the productivity, sustainability and growth of the agricultural sector.  QFF’s mission is to secure a strong and sustainable future for Queensland farmers.

Georgina sits on a number of Boards and she is a current member of the independent, expert panel conducting a comprehensive examination of the Bradfield inland irrigation scheme for the Queensland Government.

Professor John Cole

Professor John Cole is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) at the University of Southern Queensland.  Previously, he was Executive Director of USQ’s Institute for Resilient Regions undertaking applied research helping regional communities be great places to work and live.  He also chairs Queensland’s Rural Economies Centre of Excellence, a collaboration between USQ, UQ, CQU and JCU, and the Queensland Government.

In 2016, Professor Cole was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the environment, to higher education and to the community. Here and overseas he has been a long-time adviser to industry, government and communities on sustainable development. In 2012 he was awarded the Queensland Premier’s Award for Leadership in Sustainability, for promoting sustainability innovation in Queensland’s regions and industries. A passionate promoter of civic engagement and community initiative, Professor Cole is also an Ambassador for the Queensland Plan, a 30-year vision for the state.

Professor Cole is also an Honorary Professor at The University of Queensland Business School advising on corporate social responsibility and business, sustainability innovation as business strategy, and business in a climate changing world.

He has a PhD in Australian demographic history from UQ (1981) and is a recipient of a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship (1983) and is also an alumnus of the US Government’s International Visitor Program (1999).

Russell Mehmet

Russell has spent over 35 years in the insurance industry. In recent years, Russell has been involved in a number of agricultural-specific research projects, including: DAF/USQ/QFF’s Drought and Climate Adaptation Program; NFF’s On-Farm Financial Risk Management Project – Mutuals and Co-operatives and USQ’s DeRisk SE Asia Program. He is currently an Account Director at Willis Towers Watson.

Professor Shahbaz Mushtaq

Professor Shahbaz Mushtaq’s research responds to questions related to managing climate risks and impacts, improving the productivity and profitability of agricultural industries, maximising the resilience of production systems by developing integrated risk management and risk transfer programs, and related policy. Based at the University of Southern Queensland.

Neil Cliffe

Neil was born and raised in the Mackay region. A graduate of Queensland Agricultural College, Central Queensland University and the University of Queensland, Neil worked on dairy farms and grain and grazing properties prior to joining the Queensland Government Department of Primary Industries in 1987. Neil is currently managing the Climate Risk Management and Adaptation Project, including the Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP); delivering a diverse range of RD&E projects to improve the capacity of the Queensland agriculture sector to manage drought and climate variability and adapt to climate change. Neil has worked across Queensland and is currently based in Mackay.

Chris Norman

Chris Norman started with NRM Regions Queensland in mid-February 2020 as CEO working with the 12 regional NRM bodies across the State to build resilient landscapes and optimistic communities. Prior to that, he had been the CEO of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority in northern Victoria since December 2009. In 2014, he was acknowledged as 1 of 10 Luminaries selected to recognise 20 years of Integrated Catchment Management in Victoria. Chris has tertiary qualifications in science and rural resource management as well as Diplomas in Frontline Management and Company Directors and a strong passion for building vibrant local communities and has contributed to this in a range of diverse ways.

James Henderson

In 2021 James was appointed inaugural Chair of AgForce’s Young Producers Council, a group of 18-40 year olds established to raise awareness about what matters to young producers and the challenges they face, and drive change and deliver positive outcomes for those striving to succeed in agriculture. With his wife Kylie and their three kids, Douglas, Thomas, and Emily, James runs a breeding and background operation on 5400 hectares over three properties in the North Burnett and Central Queensland. The family has two carbon farming projects on their breeding property as well as a small amount of irrigation and dry farming on their backgrounding and finishing properties. James is passionate about landscape management within agricultural enterprises and about encouraging younger people to embark on a career in agriculture.

Rick Humphries

Rick’s work history is quite unique in regards to the breadth of his environmental work experience. Since 1986 he has worked in a variety of roles spanning environmental NGOs, Government, sustainability consulting, a carbon sequestration start ups and the mining and mineral processing industry. Rick is currently leading Lock the Gate’s work on Landscape Stewardship. With wife Mary, Rick lives on their 100 acre farm south-west of Stanthorpe where they are returning the block to a productive small holding based on biological production principles while protecting its rich biodiversity.

Dr Tom Davison

As the Director of the National Livestock Productivity Program, Tom has extensive experience in national and international program management, research management, private – public r&d partnerships, carbon market opportunities, climate adaptation, life cycle assessment studies, environment and livestock production systems. Tom is also a member of the federal government Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, a member of the WMO technical working group on farming systems and meteorological services, member of the Australian Sustainable Agricultural Initiative platform, Honorary Principal Fellow, University of Melbourne. Manager of the National Managing Climate Variability Program. Past manager of the National Livestock Methane Program.

Andrew Chamberlain

Andrew is an experienced ecoBiz Sustainability Coach who works throughout Queensland, with tertiary qualifications in Urban and Regional Planning, and Environmental Science.  As an accomplished project manager and collaborator, Andrew holds 20 years of experience in delivering programs and projects in sustainability, planning, renewable energy, water and urban regeneration: including delivering of the QFF Energy Savers program. Andrew is an executive member of the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand Climate Change Special Interest Section (CCSIS) and is also affiliated with the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

Pete Mailler 

Pete Mailler is a grain and cattle farmer from Boggabilla in northern NSW. Pete has a long background in rural advocacy and holds tertiary qualifications in agricultural science, leadership training through the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and over twenty years of experience as a primary producer, and active industry and community leader. Pete is a published writer and commentator as well as an accomplished and engaging speaker. Pete was an active participant in Australian grains advocacy and was the Chairman of the Grain Producers Australia. Through his agri political work, Pete has gained a robust understanding of the broader political process and continues to agitate for better political service to rural and regional Australia.

Nikki Thompson

Nikki and her husband Peter operate ‘Echo Hills‘ north east of Roma, a diversified and integrated 3900 ha agricultural operation. Nikki’s vision is to enable more conscious living and has integrated this approach to the farm business. Off farm – Nikki provides coaching and consulting to empower individuals and organisations to live and work more mindfully, using skills honed through a long history working in the health industry as a clinician and manager. She also brings business and life skills gained from raising a family and assisting her husband on their grain and grazing property. Whilst Nikki’s passion is body, mind and spiritual health, her feet are also well and truly on the ground and in the paddock.

Ian McConnell

Ian is Tyson Foods Director of Beef Sustainability, leading the company’s efforts to deliver sustainable beef to customers in Australia and around the globe. Ian is an executive committee member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Before this role, Ian spent a decade as WWF’s Global Lead for Livestock. A 5th generation beef producer from the Somerset Region, Ian holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Studies at the University of Queensland.

Tim Scott

Tim is the founder of The Kandanga Farm Store, is a farmer at Kandanga Farm & owner of Bos Rural. Growing up in western QLD, Tim Scott has tertiary qualifications in Science and Rural Management and has a passion for Agricultural marketing and regional business development. Tim has worked internationally in livestock & equine industries and has been the driving force behind several fast growing agribusinesses over the past two decades. Tim has a unique mix of practical experience, technical know-how and unconventional thinking. Tim believes in ‘reverse corporatisation’ – stemming the one-way flow of money and resources from regional areas to the city and overseas and instead reversing the trend. Tim is married to Amber and for that he is thankful.

Dr Amanda Cahill

Amanda is the CEO of The Next Economy. She has spent over two decades working with inspiring people across Australia, Asia and the Pacific to create positive change on issues as diverse as economic development; public health, gender equality; and climate adaptation. The focus of her work at The Next Economy is to support communities, government, industry and others to develop a more resilient, just and regenerative economy. Most of this work involves supporting regional communities in Australia to strengthen their economies by embracing the transition to zero emissions. She is also widely sought after as a presenter and media commentator and has appeared in a number of books and films including the film 2040.

Lachie Hart

Lachie is Managing Director of the Stockyard Group which is an integrated breeding, backgrounding, lot-feeding and marketing operation located in Queensland. This third-generation family-owned business was established in 1958 and has gained the reputation of being Australia’s most awarded beef brand. Stockyard manages a 1,500 fullblood Wagyu herd near Glen Innes, a 20,000 head cattle feedlot located at Jondaryan and distributes premium Stockyard Beef to 20 countries around the world. Stockyard has strong sustainability credentials and are the first agricultural company to receive a Sustainability Linked Loan in Australia. Lachie has been involved in several leadership roles within the Red Meat Industry and serves as the Agricultural Representative on the Australia Japan Business Co-operation Committee (AJBCC).

Miguel Castill0

Miguel is passionate about working with organisations seeking to create positive impacts on the environment and the community through strategies, initiatives and programs. He has nine years’ experience in consultancy on climate change and outcomes management with a focus on decarbonisation and natural capital. ​Over the last six years, Miguel has worked on projects for a wide range of industry sectors, including mining, transport, energy, finance, agriculture and tourism.


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