Appointment of new Executive Committee Members to Council on Australia Latin American Relations

Media release

7 August 2013

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is pleased to announce the appointments of Ms Robyn Archer AO (Australia Council for the Arts and Centenary of Canberra), Mr Christian Bennett (BHP Billiton), Dr Anna Cicarelli (UQ), Ms Jane McKeon (Virgin Australia), and Mr Victor Perton (ANZMEX) as members of the Executive Committee of the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR).

Mr Craig Foster (SBS) has been re-appointed to the board.

They join Chairman Chris Gale and Tim McLennan on the board, and bring valued expertise and links in the priority areas of business, education, culture, tourism and sustainability.

Interest and opportunities for Australians in Latin America continues to increase. Just four years ago, there were only twenty Australian mining companies operating in Latin America — now there are 80 involved in over 200 projects. More than 240 Australian companies now have a physical presence across the region which is home to 590 million people.

The Department would like to thank retiring members of COALAR, Mr David Luboff (former Chairman), Mr Rob Grant, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Mr Greg Martin, and Ms Cristina Talacko.

The new COALAR board will meet on 22 August in Sydney, where the 2013-14 grants program will be finalised.

COALAR was established in 2001 by the Federal Government to enhance Australia's economic, political and social relations with Latin America.

COALAR Board Members (July 2013)

Mr Chris Gale (Chairman) is Managing Director of Latin Resources and has significant executive management experience and commercial, finance and natural resources management skills. In 2008, he established the company Peruvian Latin Resources SAC in Peru, a wholly owned subsidiary of Latin Resources Ltd.

Ms Robyn Archer AO is an artistic director and celebrated artist in her own right. She is currently Deputy Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Director for the Centenary of Canberra. Ms Archer's involvement will be invaluable ahead of Brazil being the Australia International Cultural Council country of focus in 2016.

Mr Christian Bennett is Vice President, Government Relations, with BHP Billiton and was previously head of Public Affairs at Santos. Mr Bennett has also worked for the Australian Government, including as High Commissioner to Brunei. Mining is a key driver of economic activity between Australia and Latin America and BHP Billiton has a significant footprint in the region.

Dr Anna Ciccarelli is Deputy Vice Chancellor (International) at the University of Queensland leading one of the most active Australian universities in Latin America. Education is a key area of engagement between Australia and the region.

Mr Craig Foster is the Chief Football Analyst on SBS and a former Socceroo. He was involved in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Brazil on Cooperation in Major Sports Events and will be pivotal in building links during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Ms Jane McKeon is Group Executive, Government Relations, with Virgin Australia. She is a member of the Tourism and Transport Forum Advisory Board and was a Commissioner with Tourism WA from 2011-13, and brings valuable expertise in the priority area of tourism.

Mr Tim McLennan is the Chief Executive Officer for the International Energy Centre and was previously Director of Business Development and Commercialisation at CSIRO from 2007 to 2011. He played a critical role in building CSIRO's involvement in Latin America.

Mr Victor Perton is the Chair of the Australia, New Zealand, Mexico Chamber of Commerce (ANZXMEX) and is closely followed through his blog and on social media. He was recently Victoria's Trade Commissioner to the Americas and was also a member of the Victorian Parliament.