The Committee for the Hunter event program brings together members and guests with decision makers, leaders, experts and innovators for discussion and debate on positioning the Hunter to seize the opportunities of economic change and COVID-19.

We use technology applications to capture the key insights from the speakers and audience that will help inform the agenda for the region and the Committee for the Hunter.

Our major events are open to members and non-members. We also offer dynamic, intimate sessions to our members around topics of interest that promote networking across our membership and build regional capacity to make a difference.

The program will be regularly updated over 2021 and we welcome ideas for topics and speakers from Committee members. Contact us: contact[at]hunter.org.au.



Hunter Agenda 2021 - Kiersten Fishburn

Richard Anicich AM (Chair), Alice Thompson (CEO), guest speaker Kiersten Fishburn, Darren Cleary (CEO, Hunter Water)

On 14 May 2021, in our third event for our Hunter Agenda 2021 series, Kiersten Fishburn provided insights from her roles as the ‘plumber’ of the NSW planning system and former leader of Sydney’s third CBD.

Kiersten spoke about her time as CEO of Liverpool City Council where she helped build a coalition of councils that delivered more for their communities under a City Deal than had they negotiated alone. Timely for the Hunter as we see the benefits of working together with the funding of the Newcastle Airport runway upgrade.

Kiersten also spoke about her role in the Planning Delivery Unit, unblocking projects and stewarding them through the planning system and government. Reporting to the Premier, Kiersten can cut through the issues of individual projects while helping to design a better performing system.

In a quick poll of the audience, there was strong agreement that transport was key to unlocking development in the Hunter, including better coordination across agency plans and budgets.

Our audience also agreed that collaboration gives our region a louder voice and weight that makes governments pay attention.

The event was graciously sponsored by Hunter Water.

Hunter Agenda 2021 - Peter Achterstraat

Guest speaker Peter Achterstraat

Held 21 April 2021, in our second Hunter Agenda 2021 speaker series we heard from Peter Achterstraat, Productivity Commissioner, NSW Treasury. Peter spoke about his recent review of the NSW infrastructure contributions system. Peter gave participants copies of the Productivity Green Paper, which he has used to gauge feedback on preliminary recommendations which will inform the final report and recommendations to government. Peter talked about the importance of utilising physical, intellectual (such as data) and human assets to their full extent, including investing in both university and vocational education and training to ensure proper coverage of trades and services essential for productivity and economic growth. Peter referred to issues such as childcare and the necessity of equitable access and resources across all regions, especially seeing the move from cities to regional areas, and equally the need to keep ‘transactional’, portable online work within NSW. We again surveyed our participants for their insights, this time on priorities for productivity in the Hunter, with ‘education’ appearing in the majority of responses, followed by the related need to address trade shortages.

Hunter Agenda 2021 - Romilly Madew AO FTSE

Alice Thompson (CEO) and guest speaker Romilly Madew AO FTSE

On 9 April 2021, the Committee held the first event in its Hunter Agenda 2021 speaker series with Romilly Madew AO FTSE, CEO of Infrastructure Australia. Romilly spoke of Infrastructure Australia’s critical role in providing independent advice to governments and communities on our nation’s infrastructure priorities and reforms. Romilly explained that governments had turned their gaze from crisis management to the long tail of recovery. She told us about IA’s report on the effect the pandemic has had on our behaviour, the structure and location of economic activity and what this means for the development of Australia’s next Infrastructure Plan. We also drew on the audience for insights on place-based approaches to planning, and their priorities for the region’s infrastructure with a majority placing the port and the airport no. 1 and 2 respectively.

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