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Commission Members

Members of the Commission are appointed by the Minister for Planning based on their qualifications and considerable expertise in a diverse range of planning-related fields. One member is appointed as the Chairperson of the Commission. Members are individually appointed for terms of up to three years and cannot serve more than six years in total. Each member is to have expertise in at least one area of planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, land economics, soil or agricultural science, hydro-geology, mining or petroleum development, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism or government and public administration.

The Commission is not subject to direction or control of the Minister for Planning or any government agency, except in relation to procedural matters as set out under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Current Members

Professor Mary O'Kane AC, Chair 

Mary O'Kane is the Chair of the Independent Planning Commission, a company director, and Executive Chairman of O'Kane Associates, a Sydney-based consulting practice specialising in government reviews and research and innovation matters.

She is also Chair of the boards of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, the Space Environment Management Cooperative Research Centre and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. As well, she is a director of the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

Professor O'Kane was NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer from 2008-2018. She was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001. She is a former Chair of the board of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, a former member of the Commonwealth's Review of the National Innovation System, the Australian Research Council and the Cooperative Research Centres Committee, the board of FH Faulding & Co Ltd and the board of CSIRO. She is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia.  She has been Chair of the Independent Planning Commission since February 2018.

Carol Austin has tertiary qualifications in Economics and Science. Over the past 30 years, she has held Senior Management/Chief Economist roles in the finance industry in both the public and private sectors.  She has also served on a number of boards including the Future Fund, the Tasmanian Public Finance Corporation and the Port of Melbourne Authority. She is currently a director of HSBC Bank Australia and the Grattan Institute.  She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Ross Carter has over 30 years of experience in the design and implementation of policy and regulation. His experience traverses a wide spectrum of environmental management spheres including environment protection, biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, energy, energy efficiency, climate change, and Aboriginal cultural heritage. His roles have ranged from field-based regulatory operations in rural and regional areas to senior executive positions at both state and national levels. His senior executive roles have included key leadership, governance and decision-making roles in significant independent regulatory institutions, for example as Executive Director Sydney Region with the NSW EPA and as Executive General Manager Reporting and Carbon Markets with the Australian Clean Energy Regulator. Ross holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management, and a Master of Science with Distinction in environmental management (for research into regulatory practice at the University of Otago). Ross is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is accredited as an Independent Commissioner under the NZ Resource Management Act. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2015.

Soo-Tee Cheong is an architect and urban planner. A fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, he has over 45 years experience in architecture and planning design as well as building construction and property development. He was the chair of Design Review Panel of Botany Bay City Council for 17 years from 1999 to 2017. Soo-Tee has sat on the board of Directors of Kendall Resources Pty Ltd as Chairman, and Wealth Mining Pty Ltd as Director. He is a former Deputy Mayor, Councillor of Lane Cove Council. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since November 2017.

Peter Cochrane was Director of National Parks and head of Parks Australia from 1999-2013. From 1994-99 he was Deputy Executive Director of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. Peter is currently a director of Ecotourism Australia, Tangaroa Blue Foundation and Earthwatch Australia Institute. He chairs the Steering Committee of the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub, the board of the Australian Tropical Herbarium and the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute. He is a member of the Steering Group of the Protected Area Learning and Research Collaboration, and the National Benefit Assessment Panel for the Marine National Facility. He was elected in 2016 as a member of the Council and Bureau of the International Union for Conservation of Nature based in Switzerland. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Alan Coutts worked for over 35 years in the NSW public sector and has extensive experience in the resources, energy and infrastructure sectors. Alan has held a number of Director General and Chief Executive Officer positions including Director General of the Department of Transport, Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources and CEO of the Rural Assistance Authority and the NSW Food Authority. Alan has also held a number of board appointments including the State Rail Authority, State Transit Authority, Coal Compensation Board, Mine Subsidence Board and Rural Assistance Authority. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2013.

Peter Duncan AM has over 40 years’ experience in transport and infrastructure working at local, state and national levels. He has held various senior public sector roles including in local government, Premier and Cabinet, Primary Industries and for the Olympic Coordination Authority. Peter has worked as Chief Executive in areas such as roads, infrastructure, forestry, parks, maritime, technology and services. He currently chairs the Australian Road Research Board, and is an independent chair within the University of Sydney and NSW Corrective Services. Peter is also an advisor to the Victorian State Government on infrastructure and delivery as a member of the Office of Projects Victoria board and was member of the Commonwealth Transport and Infrastructure Council for five years. Peter is a National Fellow of Institute of Public Administration Australia and a Companion of The Institution of Engineers Australia.  He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Roger Fisher is an experienced executive and consultant with experience over many years advising governments on transport, infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources and other issues.  He was a senior executive in the Commonwealth Public Service, and has worked as a consultant for LECG and ACIL Allen Consulting.  Roger is currently the Managing Director of Pegasus Economics.  He is a chartered member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport Australia.

John Hann has over 30 years experience in land use and resource planning, covering both the public & private sectors. He is a Churchill Fellow and former construction materials Industry Association Planning Chair. For the past 15 years John has focused on statutory approval processes across the broad range of Australian jurisdictions, including environmental assessment, indigenous relationships & community engagement. John has been a Member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2015.

Andrew Hutton has an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management and a Masters in Environmental and Business Management.  He has 20 years broad environmental consulting experience in the agriculture, mining and extractive industry sectors. Andrew’s early career included working on mines as a site based Environmental Manager, with the last 12 years working as an environmental management consultant. Andrew previously held the position of General Manager of a small multi-disciplinary Environmental Consultancy based in Newcastle, prior to it being acquired by SLR Consulting Australia Pty Ltd in 2012. He currently holds the position of Technical Director and is an Executive on the Asia Pacific Management Team.  Andrew has experience in major project Environmental Impact Assessment, regulatory approvals, licensing and permitting, mine closure planning and rehabilitation, stakeholder consultation, major project and life of project risk assessment, Environmental Management Systems and environmental compliance and due diligence auditing.

Gordon Kirkby has over 25 years of experience in planning and environmental impact assessment in both the State Government and the private sector. For the past decade, he has been a Director of a major urban development services consultancy. He is the Chair of the Western NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2014.

Robyn Kruk AM has broad experience at chief and senior executive level both in the State and Commonwealth sectors.  She has represented NSW in Commonwealth/State negotiations relating to intergovernmental reform in areas including environmental sustainability, biodiversity, health, housing, forestry and climate change. Robyn has developed and implemented legislation relating to water resources management and reform at both state and national levels, environmental planning and assessment, major project approvals and endangered species protection. She has held statutory and regulatory responsibility for health and environmental matters and major projects at State and national level.  Robyn was the CEO and Commissioner of the National Mental Health Commission; Secretary of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (Australian Government); Secretary of Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (Australian Government); Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW Government), Director General of NSW Health and Director General of National Parks and Wildlife Service. She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2014. 

Dianne Leeson is a former senior executive of the NSW Public Service and urban planner whose extensive experience includes providing high level and strategic advice on major infrastructure strategy and delivery and urban renewal projects Dianne is a qualified town planner with a Master in Urban and Regional Planning (University of Sydney) She is currently a Board Member of Infrastructure Australia and of Health Infrastructure NSW, and member of audit and risk committees for Fire & Rescue NSW (chair), Infrastructure Australia, and Infrastructure NSW Dianne is also a member of the Communities Plus Advisory Panel (Land and Housing Corporation NSW) and of Sydney University Building and Estates Committee. She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Professor Zada Lipman is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Law at Macquarie University and has written extensively on environmental law. Over the past 30 years, she has taught a number of environmental subjects especially pollution law, planning law, coastal adaptation law and international environmental law. She currently teaches in the Master of Laws program at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney. She was formerly the Director of the Centre for Environment Law and the Director for Conflict and Environmental Dispute Resolution at Macquarie University. She was a member of the executive of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, and served as a Director of the Environmental Defender's Office (NSW). She has been admitted as a barrister in New South Wales and previously practised as an advocate in South Africa. She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2015. 

Professor Helen Lochhead is Dean, Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney. An architect, landscape architect and urban designer, she combines teaching, research, practice and advisory roles. Her career has focused on the inception, planning, design and delivery of complex multidisciplinary projects ranging from a city-wide improvements programs to major urban regeneration projects. Helen has held senior roles in the NSW government, including Deputy Government Architect, Executive Director roles at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Sydney Olympic Park Authority. Notable appointments include the National Board of the Australian Institute of Architects, the AIA Foundation, Central Sydney Planning Committee, the ACT Planning and Land Council, the NSW Heritage Council and competition juries and Design Review Panels across Australia. She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Professor Richard Mackay AM has worked in cultural heritage management for more than 30 years. He was a founding Partner of GML Heritage Pty Ltd, and is currently Director of Possibilities at Mackay Strategic Pty Ltd and an Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University. He is currently an ICOMOS cultural advisor to the World Heritage Committee and immediate past Chair of the Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Advisory Committee.  He was responsible for the Heritage theme of the 2016 and 2011 Commonwealth State of the Environment reports. He is a member of the National Executive Committee of Australia ICOMOS, and former member of the Heritage Council of NSW. He received the Australian Heritage Council ‘Sharon Sullivan Award’ for his contribution to Australia's national heritage and is a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to archaeology and cultural heritage. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Ilona Millar is an environmental and projects lawyer with over 17 years experience in natural resource management law, environmental markets, climate law and policy. Ilona is a visiting Fellow at the ANU College of Law at the Australian National University where she teaches the international climate change law course. She has previously taught environmental law and lectured on water markets in the environmental markets course at UNSW. Ilona is currently a Special  Counsel at Baker McKenzie and has previously been the Principal Solicitor of the Environmental Defender's Office (NSW). She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2015.

Russell Miller AM is a lawyer who has worked extensively in the transport sector.  He is a Fellow of the Centre for Strategy and Governance and a consultant with Minter Ellison.  He is a former Chair of the Minter Ellison firm and partner of many years standing.  Russell has served on a number of public sector boards, including the International Air Services Commission the National Electricity Code Administrator and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. He has been an Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University and a Senior Fellow at Melbourne University.  He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Steve O’Connor has expertise in planning and environmental science and has worked in the public sector at the State and local government level and as a consultant in the private sector. Steve is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), a Registered Planner and served as Chair and as a member of the Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) for the Sydney Water Delivery Alliance. Steve was appointed by the NSW Minister for the Environment to the Natural Resource Advisory Council, is a Director of the PIA and is currently a national Vice President of PIA. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since 2015.

Tony Pearson is an experienced strategic and financial advisor, with a career of over 20 years across banking, corporate, infrastructure funds management, regulatory, and board roles.  He currently or has recently held non-executive positions with Regnan, International Grammar School, Aspire Mining, and Azarga Resources Group.  Tony was previously a Managing Director at HSBC, and prior to this held various senior executive roles with SouthGobi Resources, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Citi and Westpac.  Tony also serves as an Ambassador for White Ribbon, has been admitted as a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and holds a B.Comm. (with Merit) from the University of NSW.  He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Annelise Tuor has university degrees in both architecture and planning and is a Nationally Accredited Mediator. She was a Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court of NSW for 14 years and has previously held senior positions at the Council of the City of Sydney, where she managed the assessment of major development proposals and the preparation of planning policies. Annelise has also worked in various branches of the Department of Planning and began her career as an architect and then a planner in private enterprise. She has recently been appointed as the chair/alternate chair/expert member of a number of Local Planning Panels and as an alternate member of Sydney North District Panel. Annelise’s experience in planning and environmental management is wide ranging, with particular expertise in statutory and strategic planning, urban design, heritage, planning law, as well as management, decision making and dispute resolution.  She has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Dr Peter Williams holds degrees in geography, environmental planning, public policy, and law; he also has a doctorate in environmental law. After 14 years experience in planning policy and law in the private and public sectors, Peter joined the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of New South Wales in 1993. There he taught a number of environmental and planning law subjects and was Head of the Planning Program at UNSW between 2009 and 2012. Peter joined the Sydney Law School at the University of Notre Dame Australia at the beginning of 2017. For over 25 years he has contributed to research in the field and has served on several State and local government committees. Peter is a member of the Specialist Accreditation Planning and Environment Law Advisory Committee of the Law Society of NSW and a Fellow of Planning Institute of Australia. He has been a member of the Independent Planning Commission since August 2017.

Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel

The Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel is a sub-committee of the Independent Planning Commission constituted under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007. The members of the Panel are:

Professor Snow Barlow is an agricultural scientist with a Masters of Rural Science from the University of New England and a PhD in soil-plant-water relations from Oregon State University. He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne. He has had a significant involvement with the natural resources issues of Australian agriculture and chairs the Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation. He is a member of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Board and the Research Advisory Committee of the Australian Farm Institute. Professor Barlow is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology. He has also served on the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. 

Professor Alice Clark holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Economic Geology, she is the Director of the Julius Kruttchnitt Mineral Research Centre and the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre at the Sustainable Minerals Institute within the University of Queensland, proprietor of Cdek Geological and Mining Services and is a registered primary producer in NSW. Ms Clark also is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Mattallurgy (AusIMM). She held the role of President of the AusIMM in 2011 and 2012. 

George Gates has had a 40 year career in hydrogeology and was, until March 2014, Director of Water Management at the NSW Office of Water. He has extensive knowledge of the State's groundwater systems and has developed a number of groundwater policies for NSW. He has extensive experience in groundwater connectivity, a detailed understanding of public policy and was the President of the NSW Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists from 1994-2004. In 2013 he was awarded the Public Service Medal for his contribution to water management in NSW. 

Catherine Hird has 40 years of experience in soil survey and land capability classification and is engaged by multiple government agencies to provide scientific assessments to create practical designs for schemes that apply waste products to land. She holds a Master of Applied Science in the specialist area of geographical information systems, as well as an honours degree in agricultural science with a major in soil science. Ms Hird has been awarded the highest level of Certified Practising Soil Science by the Soil Science Society of Australia.

Dr Ian Lavering is a geologist with extensive experience in geological mapping and the impact of resource development in major agricultural regions of Western Australia. He has also provided advice to Commonwealth agencies on on shore and offshore petroleum drilling and environmental management and is experienced in the potential impacts on aquifers from the drilling activities. His most recent professional positions include: Principal Geoscientist with the Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Advice Group of Geoscience Australia (a Commonwealth agency); Adjunct Professor in Sustainable Energy Management at the University of NSW; and Director of Energy and Environment Management Pty Ltd. 

Geoff Sharrock has held a number of Chief Executive and Director positions with various coal mines in NSW. He holds a bachelor of Science in Geology and a Bachelor of Arts in economics. He has a strong working knowledge of the regulations for explorations, as well as of developing, expanding and operating coal mines. Mr Sharrock has also served on Singleton Council from 2004 to 2008, providing firsthand experience in stakeholder engagement and community expectations with respect to mining and petroleum developments. 

Brett Whelan is an internationally respected agricultural scientist based at the University of Sydney. An associate Professor, his work and his interests are focused on strengthening the role of sustainable agricultural management within society. He has a wide knowledge of general and production issues important to farmers, gained from more than 25 years of involvement in agriculture. 

Professor Garry Willgoose has focused on hydrogeomorphology for the last 20 years, with particular expertise in long term post mining rehabilitation forecasting/environmental management. More Recently, his focus has been on soil and spoil properties pre and post mining. He also provides high quality expertise in the long term impacts of mining and groundwater impacts of coal seam gas.