The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reports to the Minister responsible for the Environment.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Board (referred to as the Authority Board) oversees the organisation and the current membership is listed below.
The Chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer are board members. They are chosen by the Federal Minister for the Environment and are appointed by the Governor General.
- The Chief Executive Officer is the only full time member of the Board. Note the Chief Executive Officer is not subject to direction by the Authority Board in relation to the Chief Executive Officer’s performance of functions, or exercise of powers under the:
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act); or
- Public Services Act 1999 (PS Act).
The Board meets a minimum of four times per year, however it can meet as many times as is required.
The Board Charter, sets out the functions, roles and responsibilities of the Authority, taking into consideration relevant legislation and management practices within an operational setting.
Under new governance arrangements that began in October 2018, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and is the Accountable Authority and Agency Head for the purposes of the PGPA Act and PS Act respectively.
The Authority Board, led by the Chairperson, is responsible for the management of the Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975.
- This includes:
- Developing plans and policies to allow for a range of ecologically sustainable uses
- Encouraging the engagement of users in the management of the Reef
- Assisting Australia in meeting its international obligations in relation to the World Heritage Convention.
The Board may delegate its powers to enable agency staff to make decisions about operational matters that give effect to the board’s policies and guidelines (e.g. permit decisions).
However, the Board doesn’t make decisions on how the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority spends its budget. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s budget and expenditure is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer as the Accountable Authority.
Qualifications and experience
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 requires board members have qualifications and extensive experience in a field related to the functions of the Authority.
- It also requires:
- One board member be nominated by the Queensland Government
- One member be Indigenous with knowledge of Indigenous issues in the Marine Park
- One member have tourism industry expertise.
Authority Board members
Dr Poiner is a highly respected marine scientist with a long history of involvement in Great Barrier Reef science and conservation.
Dr Poiner is the current Chair of the Australian and New Zealand International Ocean Discovery Program Consortium, Chair CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Advisory Committee and a member of the board of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. His recent roles include, Chair of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System; Marine National Facility Steering Committee and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. Dr Poiner is also the Patron of the Australian Marine Sciences Association.
Following a successful research career at CSIRO (1985–2004), Dr Poiner served as the CEO of AIMS from 2004 to 2011. He was a member of the International Scientific Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life from 2002 and its Chair from 2007 to 2013. From 2012 to 2016, he was Chair of the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership Science Panel.
In 2008, Dr Poiner was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in recognition of his leadership of research and development based enterprises for the benefit of marine science, the conservation of some of the most iconic marine life and marine habitats on Earth including the Great Barrier Reef, and the development of the marine industry.
In 2013, JCU awarded Dr Poiner an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of his outstanding service and distinguished public contribution to the northern Queensland community and exceptional service rendered to the University, comprising of academic excellence and the exercise of outstanding leadership. Dr Poiner holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) 1A Zoology and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Queensland.
On 29 October 2018, Dr Poiner was appointed as the part-time Chairperson of the Authority Board for a term of four years and six months. Dr Poiner replaced previous Chairperson Dr Russell Reichelt who retired in 2018 after 11 years with the Authority.
Mr Thomas was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2019 for a term of five years. Mr Thomas has over 15 years’ experience in the public and private sector in Australia and overseas. He has helped shape and lead environmental policy and programs for the Great Barrier Reef and in terrestrial natural resource management.
Mr Thomas has worked in a number of senior public sector roles and across the environment, agriculture and finance portfolios, as well as in federal Ministerial offices. He has a strong track record of public engagement on matters affecting Australia’s World Heritage sites, and through major environmental programs such as the Biodiversity Fund and Caring for our Country.
Mr Thomas’ policy experience in the marine environment extends across the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments, migratory and endangered species, whaling matters, marine parks and Antarctica. He is committed to enhancing Australia’s natural environment and has been a strong advocate for incorporating both contemporary science and Indigenous traditional knowledge into environmental management throughout his career.
Mr Thomas lives in Townsville and holds a Master of International Affairs, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Arts (Honours).
Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE FRSN is Dean of Science and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW Sydney. Professor Johnston studies the impacts of human activities in marine ecosystems and how we can build ecological resilience. Her research is conducted in diverse field environments; from Antarctica, to the Great Barrier Reef, and temperate Australian estuaries.
A highly awarded scientist, educator and communicator, Professor Johnston has published more than 160 peer-reviewed articles and supervised 25 successful PhD graduates. She is an elected fellow of the Australian Technological Society (ATSE) and her awards include the Australian Academy of Science’s inaugural Nancy Millis Medal and the Royal Society of New South Wales Clark Medal and the Eureka prize for Science Communication. In 2018 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (OA) for “distinguished service to higher education, particularly to marine ecology and ecotoxicology, as an academic, researcher and administrator, and to scientific institutes”.
Professor Johnston is a national advocate for the Science and Technology sector and is a Director on the Board of the Antarctic Science Foundation and is immediate past-President of Science & Technology Australia. She consults with industry through the development and implementation of new biomonitoring and ecological engineering techniques and frequently contributes expert opinion to state, federal & international government agencies. Professor Johnston is also a highly sought-after science communicator and television presenter for the ongoing BBC/Foxtel series, Coast Australia and ABC Catalyst.
She was reappointed as a member of the Authority Board on 27 May 2021 for a five-year term concluding on 26 May 2026.
Ms Morris developed a passion for the Reef while sailing and exploring the far northern reefs from Port Douglas 1974. After graduating from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology/Zoology, followed by an Honours degree at Murdoch University. She founded the first marine biologist guided snorkelling tours with her company Reef Biosearch on Quicksilver from Port Douglas in 1986 and continues to spend time on the reef.
Since 1990, Ms Morris has been involved in tourism businesses including reef charter vessels, hotels, resorts and attractions. Through her family’s company, she was involved in the successful establishment of the Mt Emerald Windfarm.
Board appointments have included Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, Advance Cairns, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef most recently as Chair of Tourism Tropical North Queensland. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2017, Ms Morris was awarded the Marie Watson Blake Award for outstanding contribution by an individual by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.
Ms Morris was appointed as a part-time member of the Authority Board for five years effective from 7 February 2019.
Mr Duane Fraser is a Wulgurukaba and Bidjara Traditional Owner, and has extensive experience advising Commonwealth and State Governments on matters relating to Indigenous Affairs and Environmental Policy.
Mr Fraser enjoys a diverse national and global network that includes high level influencers, current and ex-politicians from both major parties, senior executives, and grass roots communities. He uses his profile to create positive change and impact to ensure Traditional Owners are given the opportunity for full and effective participation and leadership roles at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Mr Fraser has presented at numerous international fora on the advancement of Indigenous peoples of the world and their empowerment in the protection and safeguarding of their delicate biocultural land and seascapes, heritage and cultural expressions.
Mr Fraser has a high-level understanding of the Authority's strategic objectives and ministerial priorities and has demonstrated experience in providing advice to multiple state and federal government ministers.
Currently serving as Chair of the Federal Minister for the Environment's Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC), Mr Fraser serves on several committees including the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee and the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub Steering Committee.
Ms Robbie Sefton brings a wealth of experience in stakeholder engagement, natural resource management, and strategic communications.
She is currently the Managing Director of Sefton & Associates Pty Ltd, a rural strategic communications company. She is also a partner in the Nangandie Pastoral Company farming enterprise producing wool, meat and grains.
She has extensive experience across a number of agricultural sectors and direct experience of the links between agriculture and natural resource management.
She is a member of numerous boards and advisory groups for governments, business and not-for-profits.
This includes Chair of the Panel for the Independent Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin, Deputy Chair of the National Australia Day Council and is a board member of the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils.
Ms Robbie Sefton has lived, worked and traveled all over regional, rural and remote Australia as rural leader and advocate.
She was appointed as a member of the Authority on 28 May 2020 for a five-year term concluding on 27 May 2025.
As Deputy Director-General, Policy, Mark is responsible for leading the Economic, Social, and Environment Policy teams, and the Intergovernmental Relations and the Office for Rural and Regional Queensland teams. Mark leads and enables the provision of high-level strategic policy advice for the Premier and Cabinet. Mark also supports the Premier’s participation on National Cabinet and as Chair of the Queensland Disaster Management Committee.
Mark is Chair of the Queensland Investment Panel that provides oversight of the $1.2 billion investment incentive and industry development programs. Mark is on the Board of Economic Development Queensland. He is a member of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee and Australia’s First Ministers’ Deputies Group.
Mark is a highly experienced senior executive with over 30 years of proven leadership and delivery in large and complex government and private sector organisations.
Between 2013 and May 2018, Mark was a senior director and account leader with KPMG Australia where he led significant engagements across Australia covering infrastructure, economic evaluation, governance, performance frameworks and national reforms.
For the decade prior to 2013 Mark held numerous senior executive roles in Queensland and New South Wales governments. This included Deputy Director-General (Policy, Planning and Investment) in the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads between 2009 and 2013.
Mark has a passion and commitment to public service. He believes in the role it can play in positively influencing outcomes for all Queenslanders.
Marine Park Authority Decisions
A summary is provided after each Authority Board meeting.
Each summary will have regard for any privacy requirements, and include decisions that are required to be made public under the Australian Government's Information Publication Scheme (IPS).
Statement: from Marine Park Authority Board
- August 2019
The Marine Park Authority Board — that oversee the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority — have issued the following statement about the health and management of the Great Barrier Reef:
Coral reefs globally are deteriorating, including the Great Barrier Reef, and we understand the causes for the decline. The primary cause is climate change impacts requiring national and international action. There are also regional and local threats that have to be addressed such as land-based runoff, coral‐eating crown-of-thorns starfish and coastal development. These are being addressed on the Reef under the leadership of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland’s Office of the Great Barrier Reef and with the support of many Reef stakeholders, to reduce threats, improve reef resilience and support its recovery with the goal of a healthy and productive Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is a vast and spectacular ecosystem and one of the most complex natural systems on Earth and its natural beauty, natural phenomena and heritage values endure and underpin significant social, cultural and economic benefits for Australia and is especially important to the regional Queensland communities. Despite recent declines, the Reef remains a beautiful, vibrant, resilient, globally iconic ecosystem.
- The Great Barrier Reef is:
- The best managed coral reef system on the globe through the leadership of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
- The best researched and monitored coral reef system in the world primarily through the effort of our research institutions (e.g. Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, National Environmental Science Program and universities) but also with the strong involvement of industry including tourism, fishing and ports, traditional owners and a growing community contribution through citizen science programs
- A place where Traditional Owners maintain their connections to the Reef and are engaged in its management, research and monitoring
- The reef to visit to experience the wonders and beauty of coral reefs as it is the safest and one of the easiest coral reefs to visit in the world through a quality focused, professional and regulated tourist industry centred on the long-term stewardship of the Reef.