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New board members and Patron in Chief further strengthen FRRR

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) announced the appointment of two new Board members, Hon Simon Crean and Hon John Sharp AM. These appointments followed the recent retirements of founding Directors Rt Hon Ian Sinclair AC and Bill Kelty AC.

Additionally, the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), has accepted the Board’s request to act as FRRR’s Patron in Chief.

In accepting the appointment, His Excellency said that he is delighted to become Patron in Chief of FRRR and looks forward to working with the organisation to celebrate and support country Australia.

“On my first trip as Governor-General to regional North West Queensland I told an anecdote to a friend (a city dweller) who, when I mentioned my upcoming trip, had asked me why I was going to the ‘middle of nowhere’. My response? Country Australia – our towns and communities – aren’t nowhere – they are the very heart of our nation. Critical to our success and fundamental to who we are as Australians.”

He adds, “In my experience, our rural and regional areas aren’t after handouts – in fact, they’re reticent to even ask for a hand-up. That is why the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s approach of helping communities address local opportunities and challenges is so important.”

FRRR’s Chairman Anne Grindrod said that having such strong support from the Governor-General was a great honour, and she looked forward to engaging with him more during his tenure.

Grindrod also said the new Directors bring fantastic skills and networks across business and government.

“FRRR was established under special legislation in the Federal Parliament in 2000, so it’s wonderful to have Simon and John joining the Board and continuing the tradition of having people on the Board to reflect bipartisan support for the work of FRRR,” she said. “I know that the organisation, and indeed all of rural, regional and remote Australia, will benefit from their extensive experience, connections and skills. On behalf of the FRRR Board, we are thrilled to welcome their perspectives to the table and look forward to their contributions.”

The Hon Simon Crean has been a leading figure in government, politics and industrial relations for five decades. A graduate in economics and law from Monash University, he began his career as a research officer and advocate before becoming General Secretary of the then Storemen and Packers Union (now the NUW) in 1979. He also served as Vice President of the ACTU and in 1985 became its President. He played a key role in the development and implementation of the Accord under the Hawke Government.

Crean was elected to Federal Parliament as Member for Hotham in 1990, successfully contesting the seat eight times over 23 years, on the front bench in all of them. He served in the Cabinets of four Prime Ministers – Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard – over 12 years.

Crean retired from Parliament in 2013. He is Chair of ALEC, Co-Chair Cornerstone Group Advisory Board, Deputy Chair EABC, Director of Linfox International Group, LiveCorp and RMAC. He is a member of the Monash University Council and chairs the Deakin University Advanced Manufacturing Group, where he is an Associate Professor. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Deakin University in 2014.

The Hon John Sharp AM was a member of the House of Representatives of the Federal Parliament for 14 years (1984-1998). He retired from the House of Representatives in 1998, having served as Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Development (1996-97). During his parliamentary career, Sharp became well known and respected for his role in promoting aviation safety and was responsible for numerous reforms, including a complete rewrite of the aviation regulations. He was also responsible for the reform of Australia’s railways, creating the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

He is founder and director of Thenford Consulting, a high-level aviation and transport consulting company, Deputy Chairman of Australia’s largest independent regional airline, Regional Express (Rex), Chairman of Pel Air, an airfreight business and charter operator, director of Luerssen Australia, and the Australian Maritime Shipbuilding and Export Group. Sharp was appointed as a member of the Climate Change Authority on 12 October 2015 for a term of five years.

Sharp is also involved in a number of voluntary organisations as a Trustee and Board Member of John McEwen House, Member of the University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Board, and a former Co-Chair of the Cancer Council of NSW, Southern Highlands Branch. He was chairman of the Winifred West Schools Foundation from 2001-2008 and is currently a Director of the Tudor House Foundation since 2005.

Sharp was invested as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2018 for significant service to the people and Parliament of Australia, to the aviation industry, and to the community.

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