Executive team appointed for new independent water regulator

Media release | 20 March 2018

Another positive step in delivery of the NSW Government’s Water Reform Action Plan was announced today with the appointment of the new executive team for the independent NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR).

The Hon. Craig Knowles, Chair of NRAR, said Grant Barnes – with more than 10 years’ experience with New Zealand’s largest regulatory compliance and enforcement agency - had been appointed to the lead role of NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer.

“The appointment of the NRAR executive team is another crucial step towards ensuring an equitable and transparent approach to water management in NSW,” Mr Knowles said.

“NRAR was created to deliver effective, transparent and accountable compliance and enforcement, and to maintain public confidence in enforcement of the state’s natural resources management legislation.

“The NRAR Board has been meeting with a range of key stakeholders, including government agencies, environmental and community groups and industry associations to help inform our forward direction.

“The significant experience and expertise we are putting in place with Grant Barnes and his executive team will help to build and expand on the work already undertaken by the NRAR Board,” he said.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator will be responsible for all water compliance and enforcement matters in NSW from 30 April. The new executive team will include:

  • Director Regulatory Capability & Coordination: Tim Gilbert;
  • Director Regulatory Innovation: Kaia Hodge;
  • Director Regional Water Regulation (East – Coastal/Metro): Greg Abood; and
  • Director Regional Water Regulation (West – Murray Darling): Graeme White.

Chris Salkovic will also continue in his current role as Director, Dam Safety Committee.

Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair welcomed the appointment of the NRAR executive team.

“This is another positive step in delivery of the Government’s Water Reform Action Plan released in December 2017.

“Announcing the NRAR executive team follows hard on the heels of our major stakeholder engagement program launched last week with community meetings now taking place around the state.

“We want to position NSW as a national leader in the management of water resources and that starts with implementing necessary reforms to deliver transparency, accountability and independence, and a new best-practice governance framework for water management,” Mr Blair said.

Biographical details: New NRAR executive team

NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes

Grant has over ten years’ experience in senior leadership roles in freshwater science, strategic planning and science leadership in both established organisations and start-ups. As General Manager Licensing & Regulatory Compliance Services for Auckland Council, Grant has been responsible for ensuring compliance across a wide range of building consent, environment protection and resource management matters. As NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the regulator which is charged with adding transparency and building community confidence in water compliance and enforcement in NSW. This includes building the NRAR’s regulatory capacity and capability to deliver on the NSW Government’s commitment to best practice regulation, building and sustaining effective relationships with key stakeholders, establishing good governance and high levels of ethical practice within the NRAR and working with the Board to progress its agenda.

Director Regulatory Capability & Coordination, Tim Gilbert

Tim has extensive experience in a range of natural resource and environmental management in a regulatory, project management and management capacity. Tim joined the former Waste Management Authority in 1991, worked in the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) from its commencement in 1992 to 2005 and then variously with the Department of Climate Change, the National Water Commission and more recently with the Office of Environment and Heritage in a range of policy and compliance areas. He has also worked with Irrigation Australia and the Irrigation Association of Australia. As Director Regulatory Capability & Coordination, Tim will lead the development of contemporary regulatory policies, procedures and business processes for water resource management administration and compliance. He will have oversight of compliance programs, complaints management and the provision of education and information to the regulated community. His team will be the entry point for applications, approvals, complaints and inquiries ensuring the efficient assessment, allocation, tracking and resolution of these matters.

Director Regulatory Innovation, Kaia Hodge

Kaia previously worked in regional operations in the NSW EPA and the Sydney Water Corporation (SWC). In the SWC, Kaia led the development of Sydney Water’s long term (2020-2040) strategy and business model and delivered flagship liveability projects including the Cooks River Naturalisation and Bondi Renewable Energy (co digestion) self-sufficiency projects and customer values research – each successfully challenging existing organisational paradigms. As Director Regulatory Innovation, Kaia will oversee regulatory risk management and the design of strategic compliance projects using advanced and innovative data and analytical approaches to deliver timely effective and targeted strategic monitoring and enforcement. Kaia will help build a community of best practice regulation and will also be involved in the development and application of advanced technology to the compliance task such as remote sensing.

Director Regional Water Regulation (East – Coastal/Metro), Greg Abood

Greg has more than two decades of experience in environmental protection, including as a water project officer with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and with the NSW Environment Protection Authority. In the EPA he led natural resource management and environment protection regulation of the native forestry industry in NSW which included the granting of approvals, investigations and law enforcement including strategic prosecutions and innovative forms of law enforcement. He was also engaged in education and awareness-raising activities and effective stakeholder engagement. As Director Regional Water Regulation (East – Coastal/Metro), Greg will lead the regional delivery of contemporary risk based regulation, including the assessment of complex licensing applications and approvals. He will oversee a number of regionally based teams of water regulation officers, and the NRAR’s work with stakeholders within the East region. His team will proactively monitor and oversee stakeholder referrals and lead proactive regional compliance & enforcement campaigns, compliance monitoring, investigations and enforcement to ensure compliance with water legislation.

Director Regional Water Regulation (West – Murray Darling), Graeme White

A qualified marine biologist and dedicated results driven leader, Graeme has delivered significant reforms within the department’s Crown Lands & Water division and DPI Fisheries as well as previously with the Wildlife Conservation Society. This has included the development of policies, robust and efficient work processes and performance and reporting tools. He has also coordinated the department’s review and assessment of State Significant Development, State Significant Infrastructure, mining, petroleum and other complex major project related matters. As Director Regional Water Regulation (West – Murray Darling), Graeme will lead the regional delivery of contemporary risk based regulation, including the assessment of complex licensing applications and approvals. He will oversee a number of regionally based teams of water regulation officers, and the NRAR’s work with stakeholders within the West region. His team will proactively monitor and oversee stakeholder referrals and lead proactive regional compliance & enforcement campaigns, compliance monitoring, investigations and enforcement to ensure compliance with water legislation.