Member Director Elections candidate bios

We have had a great response to the call for nominations for our vacating A and B Class Director positions. The candidate bios are below:

A Class

Allan (Grant) Delves

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I believe that Murrumbidgee Irrigation is arguably the most important company in this region. Without the timely, efficient and cost effective delivery of water to farmers and industry, this region would not be what it is today.
My vision is to continue to improve and advance this region through an even better MI, with strong communication channels between shareholders, customers and staff. While I recognise that MI has made many great advances in recent years, I also believe that it is important for it to continue to be critically evaluated to ensure that it always serves the needs of all stakeholders into the future.
My family have been farming in the MIA for over 100 years and have produced citrus, grapes, prunes, rice and wheat crops as well as cattle. We have forged a strong connection to the MIA, to the land and the community. Contributing to the community has always been valued by my family and is certainly important to me.
Apart from time spent in Sydney, completing a Bachelor of Science degree and working for DPI NSW during the 1980s, I have lived in Hanwood. I believe in this region and I am passionate about its agricultural future.
Since 2010, I have been actively involved with the Australian Prune Industry Association, I served as its chairman for many years and I am still currently a member of the executive. I lead the prune industry through a very active time. Among many things, we implemented a successful promotion campaign for Australian prunes, developed a quality assurance program and saw dried prunes exported to California for the first time. I am also a current member of the prune industry advisory body which directs research projects.
In 2013, I was elected to be the Australian representative to the International Prune Association; primarily a grower-based organisation aimed at creating a cooperative approach between all stakeholders in the world prune industry. I am the current president of this organisation and 2022 will see Australia host the international prune conference.
From 1996 to 2006 I served on the Murrumbidgee College Ministerial Advisory Council.
I have also been the president of the Dorothy Wade Child Care Centre, president of the Hanwood Public School P&C association and co-chair of the Hanwood Centenary committee.
I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards that have come with each of these leadership positions, and feel that the knowledge and experience I have gained will allow me to represent MI shareholders and customers with strength.
I recognise that a position on the MI board requires a considerable commitment and I am prepared for this. Those who know me understand that if I make a commitment I will give it my all. They know that I am happy to share information and will listen to the ideas and concerns of others. I treat all growers equally, regardless of their farm size and would certainly represent water users in the same way.

 

Click here  (PDF 554.7KB)for candidate flyer for Grant Delves.

 

Joseph Amato 

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Professional Profile

Fully Licensed Property Consultant, Strata Managing Agent & Auctioneer at Ray White Griffith and Amato Real Estate Leeton. Also Justice of the Peace.

Also
President – Pioneers Lodge Nursing Home
President – Pioneers Lodge Trust
Vice President – Griffith Leagues Club
Vice President & Public Officer – Griffith Post School Options Inaugural Representative for Griffith Cancer Care Foundation
Past President for Murrumbidgee Diabetes Association

Goals & Aspirations
Continue providing time and advice to Charitable Organisations for the betterment of overall services delivered to our wonderful community. Currently working closely with Riverina Cancer Care to provide Radiotherapy Services, based in Griffith.

Relevant Achievements
Being involved in managing the family citrus orchard in Yanco for many years has provided me with hands on experience in the most important of commodities – water and the fundamental importance of irrigation supply to farm holdings.
As a Stock and Station Agent, my experience with land sales of all types and sizes, vineyards, citrus, mixed farming, row cropping, almonds, walnuts etc. This experience has provided me with a whole host of knowledge in the Irrigation Area which will hold me in good stead.

Significant Achievement
The most important achievements have been and continue to be my family and many friends in my life – my drivers.

Quirky Fact
Through my fondness of friends, family and food, you will often find me in the kitchen and in my vegetable garden. Sometimes it’s the simplest of pastimes that bring the most joy.

Skills
Well known for reliability, dedication and straightforward manner.
Very experienced in negotiation and mediation with fairness to all concerned as the key ingredient to resolution.Not averse to recommending change to Policy or Rules if and when required.

Conclusion
For strong representation at Board level, vote for me, Joseph Amato. 

 

Click here (PDF 308.7KB) for candidate flyer for Joseph Amato

Ann Furner 

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Ann Furner is a mixed horticultural farmer from Yenda, NSW. She runs and manages a 20-hectare prune farm and jointly runs a 20-hectare wine grape farm with her husband, Anthony Nehme. She has had 20 years’ experience working in horticulture, 15 of which have been in the local area of the MIA.
Ann is a local. She was born in Griffith and grew up on a broadacre irrigation farm 60km west of Griffith, near Goolgowi. She attended Griffith High School, completing her Higher School Certificate in 1999, before heading off to university at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. After a course structure change in Wagga, she moved to the University of Western Sydney – Hawkesbury campus, completing her degree in Horticultural Science, in 2003.
Ann spent several years working as a Quality Assurance Officer for Woolworths at their Distribution Centres in Homebush and Flemington, and for a stonefruit marketing and export company in Cobram, Victoria. She then moved back to Griffith to start her new role as a Horticultural Agronomist at Yenda Producers Co-operative.
During this time Ann familiarised herself with the local horticultural areas of Tharbogang, Hanwood, Bilbul, Lake Wyangan, Nericon, Hillston, Coleambally, Darlington Point and Leeton. Ann loved spending time on farm talking with growers, learning from them about their practices at the same time as helping them make important on-farm decisions. She too, became a farmer when she purchased her own farm in 2009.
She took a break from agronomy to manage her farm and to have children. During this time, she accepted a contract to become the Industry Development Officer (IDO) for the Australian Prune Industry. Ann worked in this role for 5 years and reported to the prune industry board and Horticulture Innovations Australia (HIA). During this role Ann travelled to several prune growing countries, where she learnt about new automated prune solar drying technology from Switzerland. She continued to research the potential of this technology for Australian conditions and in 2017, invested in this new technology. This has helped reduce her carbon footprint and dehydration costs. Differentiating her product led to the development of her new brand, Naturally Dried Prunes.
Ann prides herself in continuous improvement. In 2017, she focused on improving her business skills and completed a 10-month Masterclass in Horticultural Business through the University of Tasmania. In 2019, she attended a 3-day Foundation of Directorship course through the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Ann spent several years on the Yenda Preschool Committee and as the Secretary of the Yenda Public School P&C. Ann has been successful in applying for and receiving over $400,000 in grant funding for local schools, the prune industry and more recently $200,000 for the installation of Yenda’s Skate Park. Ann volunteered her time to provide Yenda with its newest facility. This project received the 2020 Community Project of the Year at Griffith City Councils (GCC) Australia Day awards. Ann was also nominated for GCC Citizen of the Year in 2020.

 

Click here (PDF 1.6MB) for candidate flyer for Ann Furner

John Bisetto 

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My name is John Bisetto
I have worked in farming most of my life. Ten years share farming, seventeen years farm owner. A mix of Winegrape’s and citrus.
17 km north of Griffith. I spent a short period of my life living in the City where I acquired a Trade in the building industry.
I have previously sat on the committees of not-for-profit organisations. Have worked for myself most of my life and want to protect our future in farming in this area. 

 

Click here (PDF 1MB) for candidate flyer for John Bisetto

Robert Sjollema 

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Hi my name is Robert (Bob) Sjollema.
I have put my name forward to become a director on Ml (high security).
Firstly my background, my parents owned a citrus farm at Paynters Siding Narrandera, while I ran a citrus farm down the road for several years while at school and University.
After finishing University with a degree in Applied Biology (Pathology) I began work at Griffith Base Hospital, after 17 years I moved on to managed Laverty Pathology for a further 18 years.
When I began work with Laverty Pathology, we also purchased a Citrus farm at Hanwood which we have now operated for 26 years. During the last 4 years we have expanded to purchase a 2nd 5O Acre citrus farm at Hanwood and a Wine Grape farm in Venda, next to my son’s grape farm.
For several years I was on the Board of Australian Citrus Growers now Citrus Australia (CAL).
There are a number of reasons behind standing for the Ml board. There is the desire to see Ml continue to improve in becoming an efficient and modern company in providing the most important product in this region -water.
Shareholders need to see the efficient use of our monies in the delivery of water and the running of Ml generally.
The fight for water rights is more important than ever, it seems particularly so for general security water, which is being reduced because of other competing interests instead of buybacks or of being upfront when reducing allocations. It is now a process of changing priorities by stealth, with irrigators being pushed down the line.
The 95% High Security needs to be reviewed to bring it back to 100%, we buy and pay for 100% each season. The 5% which now goes to the environment was not meant to be permanent. The environmental water holders have excess water which they carry over each season, while also selling water on a temporary basis.
While the day to day running of Ml is generally a management issue the board needs to ensure it runs to fulfil its duties in service to shareholders. This is the main point of contact for shareholders and we need to be able to be heard and have action taken when required.

 

Click here (PDF 189.2KB) for candidate flyer for Robert Sjollema

B Class

Hayley Sergi

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I own and manage, with my husband Patrick and our 4 children, an irrigated farming business concentrating in rice, cotton, grain and sheep production.
Having grown up on a progressive family farm in Benerembah to growing my own business, that manages properties in Widgelli, Yenda and Murrami, I have been living and breathing irrigation farming for over 40 years.
I understand the needs of growers and the pressures of succeeding in business. The future of water and its certainty has never been of greater importance than it is for us today. It is crucial the shareholder’s voice is being heard and that MI delivers outcomes that benefits the irrigators.
Being involved in the community is important to me. I am currently the president of Yenda Public School P&C Association and previously held the position of treasurer. I enjoy working with people and I value extending my knowledge and developing my understanding especially within areas that directly impact myself and my family.
In my early years I attended the local catholic schools in Griffith then completed my HSC at St Vincent’s College in Potts Point.
I graduated from The University of Sydney in 1999 with a Bachelor of Pharmacy.
After 18 years in the profession, I decided to retire from my career as a pharmacist to concentrate on growing our business and becoming more involved in the agriculture industry.
I’m passionate about science and technologies and how they can enable sustainable economic growth and development of our irrigation area. The MIA is regarded as a major engineering achievement which has enabled our communities to thrive, and I want to make sure it continues to do so.
I believe my professional skills of problem solving, critical and analytical thinking coupled with being approachable and a good communicator equips me well to represent the shareholders in the board room to communicate their needs and advocate for the direction they wish to see the company continue to strive for.
If elected to serve on the board my aim is to assure efficient water delivery remains a primary focus of the company while safeguarding the company to continue to be strong and viable so it can serve the irrigators now and of the future. 

 

Click here (PDF 1.2MB) for candidate flyer for Hayley Sergi

Peter Herrmann 

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We here in the country love telling each other stories. There is an earthiness in the way we go about it, in our laconic style, that usually carries the truth. And when we are not fair dinkum everybody around here finds out, one way or another.
My rice growing father, Raymond, impressed on me that as farmers we are especially subject to the consequences of everything we do, or omit to do. What my Dad did was work, especially long and hard, to raise his family and earn his land, through the madness inflation, crippling interest rates and the dire commodity prices that tracked his journey on the land.
My stint began just in time for the Millenium Drought. I purchased Eric’s block next door and of course signed up on the never-never for the Snowy Borrow. In my youthful exuberance not wanting to miss out I followed the lead and the tune of the crowd and together we all had meted out to us one hell of a decade of ‘hard luck’. Working as hard as my old man made me feel like I was doing right, but in hindsight I figured if I’d done nothing at all through those times, I’d be further in front. That got me thinking.
I’ve always been willing to try different enterprises on our farm. The enterprise that has won through for me is walnuts, using precision surface irrigation. It’s only six years since I started the journey with my wife Katherine and our six sons (and niece, nephew, and the boy’s schoolmates), hand planting the first 48 hectares of trees. Two years ago we finalized arrangements so other families are invested with us in our walnut business, now called Duxton Nuts. This year we produced commercial volumes, of exceptional quality, for our offtake partner who otherwise imports the walnuts.
All this time I have produced broadacre crops and this year is the 20th I have share-farmed with my grandmother Iris on her farm. That all started after my grandfather’s death and we’ve missed only one rice season in that time. We have progressed, as means allowed, from the 1970’s farm layout and have new fences through the place to run my sheep. I am grateful for this farm’s lessons in patience and perseverance.
Some might suggest my double-degree in law with honors from the Australian National University is an ideal qualification to be a Company Director. Or consider my experience as a twenty-something in the 1990’s working internationally in Change Management with Arthur Andersen Accountants. But to me these things seem like remote experiences, far away in place and time and not so relevant to what now matters.
What Murrumbidgee Irrigation need as Directors are people willing to listen to other people’s stories to hear where they are coming from. Thanks for sharing my story. 

 

Click here (PDF 179.2KB) for candidate flyer for Peter Herrmann

Drew Braithwaite 

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About
I’m an irrigation farmer and Managing Director of Independent Ag. Our family farming business is based in Benerembah west of Griffith in the MIA, comprised of rice, cotton, winter cereals, almonds and hybrid seed production.
The business is diverse with a focus on climate and price risk management, and driving water efficiency and productivity through innovation and technology adoption.

Previous experience
• Chairman Agrifutures Australia Rice R&D Panel
• Managing Director of our farming business
• Nuffield scholarship studying price risk management and marketing options for rice growers
• Career as a commercial and private agronomist
• Treasurer and secretary of the Benerembah Warrawidgee Water Users Association
• Vice president Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Mirrool Branch
• Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Charles Sturt University

Skills
My broad range of experience has given me a strong skill set to take on the complex role of MI director.
As Chair of Agrifutures’ Rice R&D panel, I’ve been central to developing the rice industry’s next five year rice R&D plan, requiring an understanding of new water productivity innovations and complex strategic planning. The role has required me to listen to communicate effectively with a large grower base, sometimes with varying interests, to ensure they get full value for their levy dollars.
Importantly, I’ve also gained a thorough grounding in good corporate governance, which is critical for MI in managing its legal and compliance risks, avoiding conflicts of interest negatively affecting decision making, and reaching the best planning decisions for customers.
My Nuffield scholarship allowed me to meet with global leaders in commodity price risk management, as well as enabling me to see firsthand water productivity innovations in Israel and the US. This experience also gave me an international prospective of different cultural views and beliefs that shape their policies towards agriculture and the rural communities that it supports.
As an advocate for irrigators with RGA and BWWUA, I have developed a deep understanding of water policy and implications for Murrumbidgee Irrigation and its customers. I have worked with a number of politicians over the years to ensure the security of this area.

What I would like to achieve
As an MI director, my focus would be on four key areas:
1.Drive the company’s engagement with customers taking advantage of technological advances to integrate on-farm telemetry with MI’s systems for more efficient water ordering and delivery.
2.Adopting clear and effective advocacy on water policy issues, particularly where river operations or government allocation rules undermine entitlement reliability.
3.Ensuring the network is run as efficiently as possible to minimise the cost to irrigators from delivery fees and charges.
4.Maintaining high standards of corporate governance. 

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General Enquiries

Phone: (02) 6962 0200
Email: info@mirrigation.com.au
Postal: Locked Bag 6010 Griffith NSW 2680

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