Scott Waters

Scott Waters

Sky-high goals for Rockhampton growth

For Scott Waters, one simple word has guided him throughout an impressive career in the tourism and local government sectors.

“I think the key word for me is ‘passion’ and that’s what has informed my career to date,” Mr Waters said.

“I think if you are passionate about what you do it makes things so much easier.”

With Rockhampton and Central Queensland on the crest of a tourism and economic wave, the 38-year-old Rockhampton Regional Council general manager of regional development and aviation has a great deal to feel passionate about.

He admits it’s a fantastic time to be in charge of Rockhampton Airport as he begins the process of upgrading it to become a hub for international flights and a greater economic driver for the Central Queensland region.

And, with extensive experience in tourism, aviation and local government, Mr Waters is ideally placed to lead the airport, and region’s, growth.



Born in Mackay in 1979, Mr Waters completed his secondary schooling at St Patrick’s College before heading to James Cook University where he graduated with a business degree majoring in tourism management and human resources.

From there he moved to Cairns where he worked for Qantas, before heading to Canberra as part of the national carrier’s special services unit.

A desire to see more of the world saw Mr Waters work in Ireland, Great Britain and France before he returned to Australia as the area sales manager for Qantas in Townsville.

After nearly 18 months with Qantas, Mr Waters became head of commercial operations for the North Queensland Fury, the Townsville-based A-League soccer club.

In September 2010, he was on the move again, this time to Townsville Enterprise as the general manager of destination marketing, development and the convention bureau.

In mid-2011, the State Government approached him to take on the role of general manager of the Whitsunday Coast Airport and, in late 2012, he was appointed Whitsunday Regional Council chief executive officer.

It was, Mr Waters said, something of a dream job.

“I jumped at the opportunity to run the airport and then had about three and a half years running the council,” he said.

“That was a fantastic experience and I was able to continue the work with the Whitsunday airport as sort of a pet project.”

Mr Waters made the move to Rockhampton in 2016 and says his role as airport general manager with a focus on regional development combines his great passions.

“I’m really focused on aviation and travel and how local government can play a part in regional development,” Mr Waters said.

“What I love about working in local government is that you are part of something far bigger than yourself.

“There is a real sense that you are performing a valuable role that will benefit the community and region.”

While he admits that a hectic working life leaves little time for relaxation, not surprisingly given the nature of his job, Mr Waters admits to a love of travel.

He recently returned from a trip to Cambodia, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and he loves nothing better than seeing more of the world.

“In a way I’m very lucky that so much of my job involves a fair bit of travel anyway because it is something I love doing,” he said.

“I also work hard at staying healthy and family and friends are a big part of my life.”


Simon Hickey

Simon Hickey

Hard-wired for electrical work

As a young electrical technician in the late 1990s, Simon Hickey was part of the team that connected the Ernest Henry, Century and Mt Gordon mines up to the grid in north-west Queensland.

Today he is dealing with a new wave of development as he turns his skills to standard design requirements substations to handle the large-scale solar plants that will soon be feeding into the network throughout the north.

Mr Hickey is a senior substation standards engineer with Ergon Energy and the 2017 Chair of the Engineers Australia Townsville Regional Group.


Despite sticking with the government-owned utility since beginning an apprenticeship with what was then NORQEB in 1990, his career has included a variety of challenges thanks in a large part to Mr Hickey’s embrace of professional development opportunities.

He is a keen advocate of the sector as a rewarding choice of profession.

“In the electrical industry there are so many different opportunities, it’s a diverse discipline,” he said.

“I’m in a utility and I love what I do, but I’ve got friends and relatives who have worked with me and gone on to work in mining or manufacturing, and work in other roles too – diversifying into things like operational controls and project management.

“The electrical industry is a great place to be at the moment, especially with all the innovations that are coming through with large-scale solar power.”

Mr Hickey’s career choice was influenced by his love of physics at school and elder brother Paul’s work in the electrical instrumentation field with Mount Isa Mines.

Born in Mount Isa, Mr Hickey moved to Townsville with his family at 10 and began an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter/mechanic when he left school.

“I decided I wanted to get into the more technical side of electrical work so I completed a four–year associate diploma part time,” he said.

“Then I got a job in a testing and commissioning group working for NORQEB.

“We had some interesting jobs back in those days.

“That was when they kicked off Ernest Henry mine (near Cloncurry), so we built and commissioned the line and the substations at Mica Creek  (Mount Isa) and Ernest Henry and then later on we did Gunpowder (Mount Gordon) and Century.

“We were building a 220kV network which was the first network of its size in our region. They were fun and interesting times.

“… Some of the guys I used to work with who are still out there in the field have just completed a connection to Dugald River (zinc mine).

“So it is now fed out of Chumvale – one of those substations I was involved with in the early days.”

Mr Hickey said he had left that role after seven years to take an office job in substation design.

“I had a young family and had bought one too many birthday presents at the airport coming back from Mount Isa,” he said. “I said to my wife ‘it’s time for a change’.”

Mr Hickey completed a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (electrical and electronic) degree through the University of Southern Queensland. This was followed by a Master of Engineering Practice (power systems engineering) degree that included recognition for prior learning as he took on more senior roles with Ergon.

As senior substation standards engineer, his role now includes addressing some of the challenges involved in introducing more renewable energy sources to the electricity system.

“We now have situations where renewable generators want to connect at the end of long lines that were never designed for power to flow back to the coast.” Mr Hickey said.

He is looking into substation options including dead tank switchgear which have smaller footprints and may be quicker and cheaper to install. Also plant lifecycles must align with contract requirements

Meanwhile the Hickey electrical attraction continues through the next generation – with daughter Samantha having completed an electrical engineering degree.

“She just got a job in Townsville as a medical engineer, doing things like testing and reviewing details of medical equipment making sure it fits the purpose and available when needed,” Mr Hickey said.

“The medical industry is growing markedly and is highly technical. Once again this shows how diverse the opportunities are within the electrical engineering profession.”



Clive Gray

Clive Gray

Instinct for innovation

A knockback from a boss not keen to implement new ideas helped spark diesel fitter Clive Gray’s leap into running his own business more than a decade ago.

Mr Gray is now general manager-director of Brisbane-based Australian Diversified Engineering, which designs and fabricates add-on products for mining and construction fleet.


He agrees that a penchant for innovation was part of the ‘need for a change’ that saw him leave a job running night shift with the large machine equipment assembly division at Hastings Deering in Brisbane in 2004.

“I went to my boss and said ‘look I’ve got all these ideas’ and I had a list and went through stuff and all I wanted was another $10,000 a year,” Mr Gray said.

“His response was ‘don’t let the door hit you on the bottom on the way out’. So I walked out and he said ‘what are you doing?’ – I said ‘I quit’.”

Mr Gray grew up in Dalby and completed an apprenticeship with the local shire council in 1987 before starting work with Hastings Deering.

He worked with them in Dalby and Toowoomba before taking the Brisbane post in 1994.

With three children under 13 and a mortgage when he quit, the move from Hastings Deering was a big decision – and one he concedes has been followed by highs and lows.

Mr Gray started his own machine build and specification company in 2004, targeting the mining industry.

This involved work on numerous projects with Australian Diversified Engineering (ADE) and in late 2006 Mr Gray and business partner Danny Irvine opted to purchase ADE from founding director Andy Igo.

The business had a peak workforce of 80 during ‘the good years’ between 2008 and 2012.

“Then at the end of September 2012 I sacked 40 people in one day – because of the general mining downturn. That will be a day I will never ever forget,” Mr Gray said.

“People see people with their own businesses, their own companies and they see the good bits of it but they don’t see the constant worries of it.”

Like many, Mr Gray has noticed a business upturn in 2017, but has no plans to alter ADE’s pared down business model which focuses on its niche expertise.

“We build our products for the mining industry as kits here and what we normally do is organise for local suppliers to fit it,” he said.

The company, which employs about 30 people, had also produced Hitachi and Hastings Deering equipment before the downturn.

Its core products are add-ons that the Australian mining fraternity want for heavy equipment – such as ground-to-bumper bar access systems to help people get on and off large machines.

ADE’s latest focus is a water cart control system to regulate the amount of the water going on to haul roads, a device complemented by a friction matrix.

Together they allow mine sites to achieve a precise balance between effective dust suppression and retaining enough traction on the sprayed surface for safe vehicle operations.

More efficient water spraying was a big cost cutter for mines – potentially saving billions of litres of water, as well as extra trips for refilling, Mr Gray said.

“This is the stuff that pushes my buttons – I have always enjoyed problem solving,” he said

Mr Gray said the ADE SPRAY system was in use at BHP’s Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales, the BMA Goonyella site and Clermont coal.

Downer was using it and Thiess was introducing it as well, he said.

“The word innovation is used often, however, to innovate means that there is going to be a change,” Mr Gray said.

“Over the last 30 years, there have been no fundamental changes in the way water is being used to manage fugitive dust in the mining and construction industries, however, we believe our ADE SPRAY system is a true innovation. Dust suppression practices have always been the same ineffective and inefficient methods, until we stepped forward to make a change.

“What differentiates ADE from our competition is our ability to design on the run, our quality, our reliability and most importantly our people.”



Harriet Schuyler

Harriet Schuyler

Engineer shares her passion for mining

Passion is a word that crops up regularly when Harriet Schuyler starts talking about mining and mentoring.

The 25-year-old engineer’s commitment to her profession and engaging with others have seen her named as a finalist in the ‘Exceptional Young Woman in Mining’ category of this year’s Resources Awards for Women.  


The South32 Cannington silver-lead mine is Ms Schuyler’s latest career posting after stints at Olympic Dam in South Australia and Saraji in central Queensland.

It is a return to her first love of mining – hard rock.

“I’ve always been an outdoorsy type of person, so I knew I was never go to be a Monday-to-Friday desk job kind of person,” Ms Schuyler said.

“I originally did a Bachelor of Science majoring in mineral geoscience at Adelaide University and had my heart set on being in exploration, but when I graduated the industry was going into a downturn and exploration was the first thing to have the budget cut.

“So I went into mining to see how I enjoyed that and absolutely loved it.

“I did my graduate program at Olympic Dam and fell in love with the underground hard rock mining and ended up doing my Masters of Mining Engineering through UNSW to really cement that.

“I did some work in the open-cut coal environment as well at Saraji with BMA –that was my big move to Queensland after three and a half years in remote South Australia.

“I decided that my passion lay with underground hard rock and made the move back into that capacity at Cannington.”

Ms Schuyler lives in Brisbane and works FIFO shifts at the north-west Queensland site, where she is a specialist operations engineer working on analysis and improvement.

“I collate and analyse data from previous shifts and weeks and months and look for trends and opportunities to improve that data,” she said.

“I’m also working in a projects space – looking to improve the systems, improve the way we do things.”

Her attention has recently focused on the performance of the South32 Cannington hoist – evaluating data on downtime, maintenance and hoist rates, for example.

Originally from the Barossa Valley, Ms Schuyler is a keen advocate of STEM subjects in schools.

“I’ve always been really interested in science, technology, engineering and maths and in the past year or so have really gotten into encouraging students to study STEM subjects from a younger age,” she said.

“That’s how we’re going to get quality people in our industry, is to start from that young age and really ingrain that passion and that love for science and technology.

“I did a lot of tutoring when I lived in central Queensland and did a few presentations at high schools there also.”

Ms Schuyler is part of the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program managed by CSIRO and continues her involvement with the National Youth Science Forum.

She was the site leader and facilitator for the My Mentor – Courageous Woman Program while working at BMA Saraji and continues to mentor and support women in the workplace at Cannington.


“I’m very passionate about what I do – which helps,” she said of her mentoring role.

“I’m also pretty outgoing and I call it like it is – so if I see an issue or if I see someone struggling I’m going to ask them if it’s OK, I’m going to call something out as an issue, I’m going to make myself heard.

“I think it’s important and that’s one of the skills we find females struggle with because it’s not ingrained in us. I’ve had to learn to step up and speak out.

“That’s something I’ve learned and something I’ve noticed has really helped me personally and in my career.”

Ms Schuyler is also a firm believer in the value of the Queensland Resources Council/Women in Mining and Resources Queensland Resources Awards for Women.

“I think it’s great the awards exist because it’s about raising the profile of the industry as a whole – the more it gets out there the more interest it sparks in people, then you can start building the passion.”

Bill Hutton

Bill Hutton

FortisEM forges new engineering model

Good engineering companies don’t so much push limits as set standards. Bill Hutton is an engineer passionate about the profession and its ability to improve built and natural environments.

He has nurtured Townsville-based FortisEM Consultant Engineers and Managers into a management, structural and civil engineering hub.



Mr Hutton’s business model is built around addressing issues with ageing infrastructure and complex design while meeting requirements for greater compliance and more professional expectations.

He received first-class honours in civil engineering and quickly attained recognition as a Registered Professional Engineer Queensland (RPEQ) and Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng).

He is a member of Engineers Australia, Consult Australia and the Concrete Institute of Australia.

FortisEM’s clients include architects, builders, developers, steel fabricators and mining companies who need cost-effective and practical design solutions.

“The firm is helping redesign the traditional engineering offer by combining services that would otherwise exist in silos,” Mr Hutton said.

“It comes from operating in a regional area where extreme climate conditions are the norm and demand creative approaches.

“We need to be innovative to keep growing and find that the inertia often develops between separate providers.

“By keeping laser scanning, design, modeling, rendering, virtual reality and engineering under one roof we produce better documentation in a vastly quicker timeframe. We can also sign off on the plans, which is the cream off the offer.”

Armed with technology and loaded with training, the staff delivers structural engineering solutions including condition assessments and environmental controls through to 3D modeling, drawings and technical specifications.

The same offer is delivered in civil engineering to roads, sewerage and earthworks projects.

FortisEM delivers strategic partnerships as part of its management and turnkey solutions offer. This covers mechanical, electrical and geo-technical engineering as well as building design and quantity surveying.

The design is developed in-house and in unison. The client knows exactly where the buck stops and who is responsible: One provider, one decision-maker, one solution, better engineering. FortisEM engineers.

Brian Armit

Brian Armit

Helping businesses brush up on hygiene

The cleaning of industrial and commercial properties was once an afterthought, but with a growing raft of workplace, health and safety regulations, it is a function no business can ignore

“Gone are the days where you could simply sweep the problem away and flush it down a drain,” Brush and Broom Supplies NQ principal Brian Armit said. “The broom, mop and bucket have been replaced by sophisticated cleaning equipment.”



Mr Armit saw a niche in the market when he established the company in Townsville in 2007.

“Our brushes and brooms and cleaning equipment such as scrubbers and sweepers are now used in food manufacturing, agricultural packing sheds, manufacturing, mineral refineries and road construction,” he said.

He now services councils and a wide range of companies from Sarina in the south, west to the Northern Territory border and north to Cape York.

There is an amazing array of brushes and brooms beyond what the average man or woman in the street would probably imagine.

There are fruit brushes for cleaning and polishing fruit and vegetables, industrial hand brooms, handles, squeegees, asphalt rakers, drag brooms and even sophisticated ride-on machinery.

Mr Armit began his working life as a mechanical fitter with the North Queensland Newspaper Company, working on the printing press.

He rose to the position of group mechanical engineer and since he left NQN has completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the USQ to maintain and service the products he sells.

Brush and Broom Supplies NQ now stocks consumables for all major brands in Australia and has formed a strategic partnership with the country’s leading brush manufacturer, Industrial Brushware, to supply NQ industry and agriculture with a comprehensive range of products.

It has even designed bespoke brush products for specific uses.

Mr Armit says he prides himself on delivering a high level of customer service and keeps abreast of the latest trends in the industry by visiting trade exhibitions and attending training seminars.

Ben Stubbs

Ben Stubbs

Bridging the generation gap

The 39-year-old general manager of Lee Crane Hire in Central Queensland says he is an ‘in-betweener’

That’s by way of describing how he’s positioned as a leader between the baby-boomers and Generation Xers and the Gen-Y and younger staff.




One of the challenges in managing the privately-owned business was recognizing the strengths in both groups, said Ben Stubbs.

Mr Stubbs is in a good position to know. He is a Central Queenslander by birth who learned the ropes with early management positions at Ultratune in Rockhampton, the Vanderfield farm equipment retailers and with community organisations.

Lee Crane Hire is headquartered in Biloela in the heart of the southern Bowen Basin and employs more than 100 staff across the home and Gladstone bases.

The majority of the workforce is permanent though casual staff numbers vary in line with shutdown work.

The first step in managing people was in understanding your own strengths, weaknesses and passions, said the father of three children who are 10, four and two years old.

“I was married young, had my first mortgage at 24, have been in management roles since 25 and learnt about commitment and responsibility fairly early on in life,” Mr Stubbs said.

“Managing people is the predominant skill to take an organisation where you want to go,” he said.

“You need a bit of self awareness. If you understand what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, you can use those skills to understand what other people are passionate about.

“I’m strong in team leadership. The days of autocratic leadership are over. I think if you study poor governance, you’d find many companies failed on that.”

The younger generation had a lot to contribute and generally also had a lot to learn, he said.

“My job is to bridge the gap between owners who are 60 and 30-40 year olds driving cranes.  There’s a lot of strength in harnessing and learning from the generation before us but it goes the other way as well. I am definitely in the gap somewhere.

“I have a lot respect for people like (Lee Crane Hire owner) Greg Lee who sensed opportunity, worked hard, put the effort in and got results.

“Our industry led younger people to have a nice measure of success but it was from standing on the shoulders of the Greg Lees of the world. In saying that what the young people do have to offer.

“They’re happy to move around, they want to be involved and have ownership. They’re flexible, not frightened of technology and more adaptable to change and you can create a lot of efficiency out of that.”

Mr Stubbs has a second job as Pastor for the Biloela Assemblies and God Church. He and his family weekends are spent building strength and resilience in the community.


Kaitlyn Moore

Kaitlyn Moore

Fighting for the formwork sector

Ipswich entrepreneur Kaitlyn Moore has taken on Chinese manufacturers in the formwork business and is now leading the charge to give the Australian industry a stronger voice.

The owner and managing director of O’Connell Agencies registered the Formworkers Association of Australia (FAA) last year.



“After 14 years in the construction industry, I became somewhat of an agony aunt of the formworkers, who rang me and offloaded their difficulties and challenges they faced within the industry, in both construction and management,” she said.

“I came to establish the FAA by listening to the needs, wants and problems of my clients and deciding to do something about it.”

The association is aimed at formwork companies and supply business owners rather than the general workforce.

Ms Moore said she was still doing the groundwork to create an online presence for the association to help accelerate its growth.

“We are currently looking for members – people who have an interest in the formwork industry and think they could be part of this platform to voice concerns and advance standards in the industry,” she said.


Ms Moore said her business was going from strength to strength after establishing manufacturing facilities at a 1.3ha factory site in Ipswich about a year ago.

“That has allowed me to increase production and manufacture around the clock if necessary,” she said.

“I have been able to accept bigger projects and really expand.”

Her business manufactures circular, rectangular and square forms for concrete building columns as well as the accessories need for commercial formwork.

Ms Moore grew up in Oak Valley outside Townsville before moving to Ipswich aged 11 after her mum, who was a teacher, was transferred.

“It brought me closer to my dad, who owned his own formwork company in Brisbane, and I guess that’s where my passion for the construction industry began,” she said.

She said she had started operating O’Connell Agencies from her garage in 2002, distributing nails and silicone to jobsites in Brisbane.

“I learnt how to import products from China, so started to buy in bulk and then wholesale to national formwork supply companies,” she said.

“When importing from China became very popular and my competition increased, I looked towards manufacturing to secure my future.”

Ms Moore made the switch four years ago and was manufacturing PVC column forms at a smaller site in Tingalpa, Brisbane before establishing the Ipswich factory.

She said her business had grown to the point where she was using nine machines, employed 17 people and had a multimillion-dollar turnover.

“I would like to make a point about my wonderful team – I wouldn’t be here without the support of the people around me,” Ms Moore said.

Ms Moore was recognised in the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland’s annual Crystal Vision Awards last year, taking out an award for diversity.



Dave Hartigan

Dave Hartigan

Engineer inspired by great role models

General Sir John Monash is the ‘great leader’ of choice for one of Mackay’s emerging businesspeople.

Forty-one-year-old mechanical engineer Dave Hartigan is the deputy chair of Resource Industry Network (RIN) and general manager of FIELD Engineers.


He cites his parents and first employer as early influences.
His mother from farming stock taught him to immerse himself in work and make it more a continuum than the long gap between weekends.
His father taught him the cut and thrust of business, while the then-general manager of Eagle Engineering in Gladstone taught him to deliver a good product and service and be confident of its value.
“It is never based on one transaction, it is all about the long term. It has to be built on trust.” Mr Hartigan said.
“Engineering is such a technical field. If your client doesn’t trust you, you’re in trouble.”
A later period working for construction giant Bechtel showed how self-belief was integral in effective decisionmaking, he said.
“I was lucky to work for an engineering manager during the Yarwun refinery construction who pushed his engineers to be brave. He wouldn’t let anyone hide from making decisions, especially when crews needed an answer or direction,” Mr Hartigan said.
“Sometimes it’s hard work getting everyone to stick to the plan. Other times it takes courage to get everyone to agree to change the plan when you see something they can’t.”
The legendary Australian First World War general and eventual commander of Commonwealth forces General Sir John Monash is Mr Hartigan’s hero.
“He came from the outside, a Jew in Anglo Saxon-dominated Australia. And he was an engineer,” he said.
“He applied an engineer’s approach to military campaigns and he pulled off what no one thought was possible by applying new technology in ways other people hadn’t thought of.”
As a peak representative body, the Resource Industry Network (RIN) was helping members with practical skills and advocacy, Mr Hartigan said.
He credits current RIN chair Tony Caruso with leading the network’s evolution through the resources cycle.
“In the good times it was about enabling the membership to meet insatiable demand from a growing client base,” he said.
“Now it is about helping deliver better business management, including finance, HR and industrial relations. This in turn helps the membership deliver more efficient service to cost-focused clients.
“Advocacy for our industry has become really important.
“Politics can have enormous effect on encouraging or discouraging investment.
“An example is the Galilee Basin, where anti-coal activists are gaming the court system to bog the approval process for a mine. RIN keeps the community abreast of what this is doing to the local and state economies.”

Ben Hughes

Ben Hughes

Plan to open more doors for regional suppliers

Ben Hughes has made the sometimes-slippery concept of local content his business.

The Brisbane-based founder of Hughes et al has been networking, gathering data, speaking at regional forums and acting as a local content advisor on major projects in the Surat Basin region for about eight years.

Now he has teamed up with Strategenics managing director Chris Mills to develop EconomX – a project that aims to create better local content strategies and use technology to foster closer links between major project proponents, economic development groups and local suppliers.



Mr Hughes, who hails from Somerset in England, said his previous career path had seen him running major recruitment exercises for large corporations.

“I came to Australia in 2002 because Suncorp had to find about 2500 people a year and my role was to build the process and the strategy and the team,” he said.

He worked in Melbourne for ANZ and Hewlett Packard before being based in Brisbane to work in the mining sector.

“Then I got a phone call one day from a matron at the Proserpine hospital who told me off as one of my team’s recruitment activities had resulted in two of her nurses leaving to go and work on a mine site,” he said.

Mr Hughes said that encounter had given him food for thought about the social impact of major corporations’ recruitment and procurement policies on regional centres.

It came at a point when he was looking for a new career direction.

“I wanted to work in regional development and a mate mentioned Dalby was a good place to start,” he said.

“So over the next few years I drove into the region and learnt to be a business consultant, learnt about small business, volunteered for the chambers and just basically involved myself in as much economic activity and detail as I could so that I could understand how it worked.”

The impact of the flood disaster of 2010/11 on his Dalby and Chinchilla clients wiped out his budding enterprise and saw him snap up a reference-checking job in Brisbane as a standby.

In a twist of fate, people in the next office pod were working for a major CSG-LNG project contractor and were seeking someone with knowledge of Surat Basin networks and employment to help write a local content plan.

Mr Hughes said he had put up his hand and was later asked to come on board to deliver that plan for what was then Transfield.

“Since then I have been moving around major contractors developing better local content plans, particularly in procurement,” he said.

Mr Hughes said he was convinced that everyone he had worked with wanted to do the right thing – buy and employ locally – but there were many challenges not least in the fact that ‘local content’ was still being defined and interpreted differently.

“I agree that local content is a shared responsibility and that everyone has a role to play, the question is how do those responsibilities and roles interrelate?” he said.

“The focus of local content should be to engineer out the inefficiencies in local procurement and employment to generate  commercial benefits which in turn generate social dividends.”

Mr Hughes said he had teamed up with Mr Mills last year, finding a like mind in many respects and a complementary skills set to create EconomX.

“We are trying to start off a renaissance of local content conversation – so much has changed in the market, in the supply chain and in the community, that we believe there is a need to consolidate the lessons we have collectively learned, redefine what local content should now be and then drive participation in a strategy that we think can meet shared expectation,” he said.

He described EconomX as an online marketplace that would make it easier for regional businesses to access supply chain opportunities and jobs, and make it easier for major projects and corporations to find cost-effective and reliable local supply.

“However a system implemented in a region that doesn’t have a strategy and that doesn’t have the support of the parties that share in the local content responsibility won’t work. Our priority is to get the analysis right first, develop the strategy and coalesce the support, the system implementation comes after that due diligence”

One of the venture’s incubator projects – – is due to launch around July.

Mr Hughes described it as a FIFO mitigation strategy. “Step 1 is to build a body of evidence that shows that skills are available in regions,” he said.

More at and

Don McPhail

Don McPhail

Ergon Energy engineer leads local professional group

Taking a shine to solar has proved pivotal for the career of Don McPhail, the 2016 chair of Engineers Australia’s Townsville regional group.

As Ergon Energy’s senior network strategy and policy engineer, Mr McPhail focuses on issues surrounding the connection of alternative generation sources, energy storage and electric vehicles.



The Townsville-based role follows an overseas scholarship sparked by his work on the impacts and opportunities of the growing uptake of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Mr McPhail was born in Brisbane and “moved around a bit” as a child including time in Roma and attending high school near Woodford.

He was drawn to a career in the power industry and commenced as graduate engineer with Ergon Energy after studying at the University of Queensland.

“Given the geographical area Ergon Energy covers I began with them in Townsville, but also moved to Toowoomba and then Brisbane, where I finished the program and had been working on creating a strategy around addressing the impacts and opportunities of the growing uptake of solar PV,” Mr McPhail said.

“It was a catalyst for me in getting the E.S. Cornwall Scholarship that allowed me to then spend the next two years working abroad in the UK, Netherlands and US on global best practices in integration of generation, energy storage and electric vehicles into the electricity distribution network.”

He returned to Townsville about three years ago.

The growing focus on renewables and other new technology meant it was a particularly interesting time to be in his present role with Ergon, he said.

“It’s an area where not only is the technical side interesting, but so are the commercial, regulatory, legal, and stakeholder engagement areas as well,” Mr McPhail said.

Mr McPhail has been an active member of Engineers Australia for eight years.

He said his focus for 2016 as local group chair would include continuing the great work of the group over the last few years in delivering quality CPD (continuing professional development) and engaging with the industry.

He would also support Engineers Australia’s increased focus on advocacy and leadership in the community by the engineering profession, he said.

This was off to a good start in Townsville with a regional position policy released last year and an op-ed published in the Townsville Bulletin recently featuring 2015 local group chair Glenn Stephens.

“Probably one of the highlights for this year is we are aiming to host an event during Engineering Week in August to celebrate Townsville’s 150-year anniversary, and highlight the engineering history and achievements of the city, and involve the wider community,” Mr McPhail said.

This was likely to involve a display at Cotters Market in the CBD to share the information with the public, he said.

Outside his Ergon Energy and EA role, Mr McPhail said he loved travel and exploring – whether camping in North Queensland or venturing abroad.

“My wife and I bought an old miner’s cottage last year and so renovations now seem to fill my time, however I do make sure I find time for things like diving or yoga too,” he said.

“I’m currently completing an MBA and so enjoy continual learning.”


Get involved

The Townsville regional group of Engineers Australia meets on the third Thursday of every month at 5:30pm at Seasoned on Palmer St, Townsville.

The group welcomes new members to come along and join.

It also encourages members to rake part in the group’s LinkedIn network at




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