Meet the 2017 Featured Speakers

AM Partner, KPMG

Bernard Salt is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading social commentators by business, the media and the broader community.

He is a high-profile Melbourne-based Partner with the global advisory firm KPMG where he founded the specialist advisory business, KPMG Demographics.

Bernard writes two weekly columns for The Australian newspaper that deal with social, generational and demographic matters.

He is an adjunct professor at Curtin University Business School and he holds a Master of Arts degree from Monash University.

Bernard has popularised demographics through his books, columns and media appearances for 25 years. His body of work is encapsulated in six popular best-selling books beginning with The Big Shift published in 2001 through to his most recent work More Decent Obsessions published in 2014.

Chair, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

Sharon has predominantly operated within the construction, mining and infrastructure sectors throughout her 25+ year career.  She is the 2014 WA Telstra Business Woman of the Year, the 2015 NAB Women’s Agenda Mentor of the Year and a 2015 Finalist for the Westpac AFR 100 Women of Influence.

Sharon qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG Perth in 1994.  Shortly after she joined Hamersley Iron.  Following a number of years in taxation and accounting roles Sharon was seconded to Rio Tinto’s London Head Office where we worked with management on a range of mines across the globe.

Sharon joined the Multiplex Group in Sydney at the time of its listing in early 2004.  Sharon was directly involved in the project management of the Brookfield takeover of Multiplex as well as the subsequent integration of Brookfield Multiplex.

In 2008, Sharon relocated to Abu Dhabi in the UAE.  During her two years in the UAE Sharon worked on a broad range of projects including Yas Island Formula One precinct for Aldar Properties PJSC.

Sharon joined the board of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) in 2013 as a Non-Executive Director.  She now chairs the FMG Remuneration and Nominations Committee and is a member of the Audit & Risk Committee.

She is a Non-Executive Director for Western Power, Gold Road Resources Limited and Wellard Limited and a part-time member of the Takeovers Panel. Sharon is also a Director of the fund raising NFP for the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth and the Patron of their Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy programme.  She is Curtin Alumni, an Advisory Board Member for the Curtin Business School Asia Business Centre and the Patron for the Curtin Women in MBA scholarship programme.

Sharon champions flexibility, diversity and work life balance and places a high priority on sharing her own experiences.  She is a single parent to Miss Chloe aged six.

Sharon mentors many emerging leaders face to face as well as many more through her digital mentoring platform

Sharon was recently appointed by The Hon Julie Bishop Minister for Foreign Affairs as WA’s first business champion for the New Colombo Plan.  Sharon’s role will promote the value of regional study to students’ career prospects and in fostering business engagement with the New Colombo Plan.

  • Chairman – Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)
  • Non-Executive Director – Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), Wellard Limited (WLD), Western Power and Gold Road Resources Limited (GOR)
  • Director – Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, Curtin Business School Asia Business Centre Advisory Board
  • Member – Takeovers Panel

CEO, Infrastructure Australia

Philip Davies is an infrastructure executive with over 25 years of experience shaping policy, delivering nationally significant infrastructure projects, and leading reform within the infrastructure sector.

He is the Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia, with a mandate to provide independent expert advice to all levels of government on infrastructure policy and planning. Infrastructure Australia publicly advocates for reforms on key issues including means of funding, financing, delivering and operating infrastructure and how to better plan and utilise infrastructure networks.

Infrastructure Australia released the Australian Infrastructure Audit, in May 2015. A comprehensive independent review of Australia’s infrastructure and our future needs across transport, water, energy and telecommunications.

In February 2016, Infrastructure Australia released its 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan – a strategic framework for addressing Australia’s future infrastructure needs.

Infrastructure Australia develops and maintains infrastructure priorities in the form of the Infrastructure Priority List. This provides governments, the community and the private sector with a list of nationally significant infrastructure initiatives and projects underpinned by the evidence base of the Audit. This list is regularly updated and project assessments published by Infrastructure Australia.

Philip is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

Executive General Manager, Cape Operations, Cape York Partnership

A proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Fiona’s love for her family, culture and heritage shaped her career in empowering local change in Indigenous communities.

Fiona first joined the Cape York Institute in 2010 and has since held a number of executive positions as Director of Leadership for the Cape York Leaders Program, Chief Executive Officer of Cape York Institute, and now Executive General Manager of Cape Operations for Cape York Partnership.

Fiona’s professional career began with a traineeship at Education Queensland and during her 10 years with the department, she soon advanced to senior management positions. Here she gained a wealth of experience in leadership, management, education and government relations.

From there Fiona accepted an opportunity with a regional airline where she led Aviation Australia’s Indigenous Programs. Fiona further secured a reputation as a strong manager and Indigenous advocate, as Employment Manager for one of Queensland’s largest group training organisations.

She was the winner of the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award – Queensland for Purpose and Social Enterprise, and the Australian Institute of Management – Queensland Not-for-profit Manager of the Year in 2012.

Fiona is hands on in a number of Indigenous led organisations. Fiona is a Leader of Empowered Communities, Board Member of Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Djarragun College and Cape York Girl Academy.

Director, Office of Northern Australia

Andrew is a Director in the Office of Northern Australia and has been a leader and senior manager in the public sector for almost three decades, with national and international experience in regional development, natural resource management, energy and minerals, and applied economic research.

Since 2008 Andrew have been involved in the senior leadership of the Office of Northern Australia, being involved in all aspects of policy and programme development, including building and maintaining ties with State and Territory governments, industry, academia and stakeholders.

Among a range of highlights, Andrew led development of the $195 million East Kimberley Development Package and led the team supporting the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce. Andrew was central in commissioning CSIRO’s foundational work in assessing surface water and agriculture resources in the Flinders and Gilbert river catchments.

CEO, Northern Land Council
After growing up and schooling in Katherine, he gained a BA from the University of Sydney in Natural Resource Management and set about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to establish land and sea management efforts across northern Australia.
Mr Morrison’s first job after leaving school was at the NLC from 1992-94. He worked first at the old mechanical workshop at Coconut Grove, moved into administration, then at the NLC’s Registry Office.He then moved onto Greening Australia where he helped to establish the Aboriginal Landcare Education Program — designing living areas on Aboriginal communities.In 1998, Mr Morrison began work with NT Parks and Wildlife as a land management facilitator, establishing land and sea ranger groups in south-east Arnhem Land, the VRD and Barkly — many of them now under the management of the NLC, but some now independent.Two years later he became founding Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance. Mr Morrison nurtured the development of NAILSMA from a small unit within a large western science-focused research institution, to the nationally recognised Aboriginal institution operating across tropical northern Australia.Mr Morrison has an ambitious agenda for his new role as NLC CEO, connecting with the NLC’s constituency to reinvigorate the importance of maintaining control over the lands and waters that Aboriginal people have fought hard for and to work towards appropriate social, cultural and economic development that creates lasting employment opportunities in a post determination era.
Mr Morrison has authored and co-authored many articles relating to Indigenous rights, management of country, economic development and of northern development.He has a young family and has lived in Darwin since 2001.

CEO Tablelands Regional Council

With over 15 years of effective senior executive leadership experience in large and complex organisations including Tertiary Institutions, State and Federal Governments, not for profit sector and as a consultant to major projects involving public-private partnerships, Professor Hurriyet Babacan brings a wealth of first-hand knowledge and demonstrated track record of achievements in driving innovative change, setting strategic vision and outcomes focused policy, planning and development.

She is a recipient of the Order of Australia and Bi-Centennial Medal for her contribution to policy, social inclusion and thought leadership. She has been awarded the Telstra Business Women’s Award recipient for innovation in the public sector and champion of economic and community development initiatives focussing on inclusion and collaboration.

Chair, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Developing Northern Australia

Sheriden Morris has had a strong connection to and focus on northern Australia her entire life: from growing up in Batchelor in the Northern Territory, through her studies in tropical agronomy, and her professional career working with sugar, banana, aquaculture and tourism industries and agencies such as CSIRO and GBRMPA. For the past ten years she has been the Managing Director of the Cairns-based not-for-profit company, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC). She has always strongly believed in intelligent, sustainable development for northern Australia using the region’s tropical expertise – the knowledge of living, building and working most effectively in the tropics.

Under her leadership, the RRRC has successfully attracted more than $200 million in grants and investment to support research and development projects in northern Australia. This includes the Australian Government’s Marine and National Tropical Sciences Research Facility, the Tropical Ecosystems Hub of the National Environmental Research Programme, the Tropical Water Quality Hub of the National Environmental Science Programme and the Crown of Thorns Starfish Control Program.

Sheriden is Chair of the CRC for Developing Northern Australia and is Deputy Chair of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.  Sheriden has served on numerous government advisory committees for land and water management, including Queensland and Commonwealth committees for agriculture, coastal development, wetlands and Indigenous opportunity. An extensive contributor to land and sea management policy, she has also spearheaded the development and implementation of an innovative aid development programme on Australia’s northern borderlands with Papua New Guinea.

She lives on the family farm at Babinda, just south of Cairns.

Vice Chancellor and President, James Cook University

Professor Sandra Harding took up her appointment as Vice Chancellor and President of James Cook University in January 2007. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring clear and effective leadership and management of the University across all operating sites, including campuses in Cairns, Singapore and Townsville.

Professor Harding has extensive academic and academic leadership experience. An economic sociologist by training, her areas of enduring academic interest include work, organisation and markets and how they work. She also has a keen interest in public policy in two key areas: education policy and related areas; and; the global Tropics, northern Australia and economic development.

Professor Harding has undertaken a wide variety of external roles within the business community and the higher education sector, including Chair of the peak body representing all Australian universities, Universities Australia (2013-2015); Member, Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) Advisory Board (2012-2015); and; Member, Northern Australia Advisory Group (advising Prime Minister Abbott, 2014-2015).

Current roles include: Project Convener, State of the Tropics project; Chair, Australian Bureau of Statistics Independent Assurance Panel on 2016 Census of Population and Housing data; Commissioner, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; Member, Trade, Tourism and Investment Policy Advisory Council; Director, Australian American Education Leadership Foundation; Director, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Board; Councillor, Queensland Futures Institute; Co-Vice Chair, the New Colombo Plan Reference Group; Council Member, the Australian Institute of Marine Science; Director, North Queensland Cowboys NRL club; Director of Townsville Enterprise and of Advance Cairns (regional economic development bodies); and; a Governor of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

CEO, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association

Long term Territory Pastoralist and small business owner, Tracey Hayes, is the first female Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and is tasked with leading the billion dollar NT pastoral industry.
Prior to becoming the CEO, Tracey had been a passionate industry advocate for many years, with a strong interest in agribusiness and agri-politics. She started her involvement with the NTCA as a board member, and has held a variety of positions including national representation with the National Farmers Federation.

Tracey comes from a pastoral background, having worked in hands-on roles on her own family’s remote property in South Australia and continuing her pastoral connections throughout her married life in central Australia; her four sons are 6th generation Territorians. Additionally, Tracey is a small business owner, employing 6 staff.

Tracey studied Business Management and Rangeland Management with The University of Queensland and has continued her Agribusiness studies with the Harvard Business School short course program.

General Manager, Northern Australia Development and Trade, NT Department of Trade Business and Innovation

Mr Luke Bowen, General Manager, Northern Australia Development and Trade, NT Department of Trade, Business and Innovation. Luke is responsible for the Office of Asian Engagement, Trade and Investment, the Northern Australia Development Office, StudyNT, DefenceNT and Indigenous and Regional Economic Development.

Luke was raised on a farm in Western Australian, and studied agriculture at Curtin University and worked in agriculture in Australia and Europe.

He has worked as an executive in the building and construction industry and spent 11 years working across Australia with the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC).

Prior to his current role he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA). He is a member of the Federal Agriculture Minister’s Agriculture Industry Advisory Council (AIAC) and past member of the Prime Minister’s Anzac Centenary Advisory Board.

Chairman, Hancock Prospecting (pre-recorded message)

Gina Rinehart is the Executive Chairman of the Hancock Prospecting Group and S. Kidman and Co. She is also one of the foremost figures in primary industries in Australia, particularly, agriculture and mining.

Since taking up the reins of the Hancock Group in 1992, Mrs Rinehart has overseen the very considerable expansion of Hancock’s agricultural business, now the third largest producer of cattle in Australia with a total herd size reaching approximately 300,000. In recent years, Mrs Rinehart has introduced game-changing technology to the Hancock Group stations.

With properties now spread out across Australia in WA, NT, QLD, SA and NSW, Hancock’s status as a major agricultural player was added to with the joint-venture acquisition of the iconic S. Kidman and Co pastoral company, in which Hancock has a majority.

Recently approved by the Kidman board, game-changing technology Hancock introduced to its stations, including digital UHF systems and the walk over weighing system to reduce mustering, will also be introduced to Kidman stations.

The Hancock Group also owns one of Australia’s largest Fullblood Wagyu beef herds and recently celebrated the launch and first shipment of its new premium Fullblood Wagyu beef brand, ‘2GR’, to Asia.

In addition to developing Hancock’s agribusiness, Mrs Rinehart has also overseen the exploration, studies, financing, construction and operation of the majority-owned $US10 billion Roy Hill mega project, ramping up to be Australia’s single largest iron ore mine, and is pursuing the construction of a fourth major iron ore mine at Hope Downs with partner Rio Tinto.

In addition to winning numerous awards such as CEO Magazine’s Chairman of the Year and CEO of the Year Awards, lifetime awards and many overseas awards, Mrs Rinehart has received an Honorary Doctorate from Bond University and is the single largest private supporter of the Australian Olympic Team serving as Patron of the Olympic swimming, synchronised swimming, rowing and volleyball teams.

She is also a major contributor to women’s health causes, having started Australia’s then first breast cancer foundation, ( back in the early nineties ) and continues to support cancer related philanthropy.