Media Release

New stewards of rural research and development appointed

16 October 2014

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has today announced new stewards of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).

"RIRDC plays an important leadership role in planning, investing and managing research and development (R&D) for some of Australia's emerging and niche agricultural industries," Minister Joyce said.

"RIRDC has a long history of strong leadership and working with industry that has been integral to advancing the corporation's research and development priorities and addressing national rural issues.

"I'd like to congratulate and welcome the six new appointees and one re-appointment."

From 11 October 2014, the RIRDC directors are:

  • Mr Kevin Goss (WA) – Senior Honorary Research Fellow, Future Farm Industries CRC Ltd, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Tony Hamilton (NSW) – Managing Director, Merriment Rural Investments Pty Ltd.
  • Dr Jan Mahoney (VIC) – Business Adviser and Company Director, Jemini Pty Ltd.
  • Dr William Ryan (WA) – Agribusiness consultant, Landmark Ltd; Chairman, Agricultural Produce Commission WA.
  • Ms Heather Stacy (VIC) – General Manager International Farming, Fonterra New Zealand.
  • Dr Keith Steele (QLD) – Managing Director, Steele Business Solutions Pty Ltd; Case Manager, Commercialisation Australia.
  • Dr Len Stephens (SA) – Managing Director, Seafood Cooperative Research Centre and current RIRDC director since 2011.

"The RIRDC board, led by Professor Daniela Stehlik (Chair) and Mr Craig Burns (Managing Director), will be critical in guiding investment priorities and supporting the Coalition Government's significant investment in rural R&D," Minister Joyce said.

"During its tenure the board will be implementing new measures to assess the impact of research and development, as well as guiding the management, administration and delivery of R&D programmes."

As part of its 2013 election commitments, the Coalition Government is providing $100 million in additional funding to the rural research and development corporations to improve Australia’s capacity to deliver cutting edge technology, continue applied research, and focus on collaborative innovation, increasing the appeal of Australian commodities to potential markets.

This is on top of the approximately $250 million it already provides each year as matching funding, and more than $450 million in levies collected from industry provided to 15 rural research and development corporations and other service providers.

Minister Joyce thanked the corporation's outgoing directors Mr Samuel Archer, Mr Alexander Campbell, Mr Michael Guerin, Ms Roseanne Healy, Ms Alana Johnson and Dr Merilyn Sleigh for their contribution to advancing the corporation’s research and development priorities.

"The corporation and Australia's agriculture sector have benefited greatly from RIRDC's skilled and experienced leaders. I commend RIRDC for its ongoing commitment to Australia's rural industries.

"RIRDC has a critical role to play as the R&D body for some of Australia's small and emerging industries including honey bee and pollination, horses, pasture seeds and essential oils and plant extracts just to name a few. In recognition of this, RIRDC continues to enjoy special appropriations from the Commonwealth Government in support of the important work it does on behalf of industry, something that the Coalition Government remains committed to maintaining," Minister Joyce said.

For more information about the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation visit