Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee

The Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee was established by the Minister for the Environment in 2010. The Committee’s role is to advise the Minister for the Environment the EPA and other relevant NSW Government agencies on issues relating to the operation of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network and the management of regional air quality in the upper Hunter Valley.

The Committee enables local communities in the Upper Hunter region to engage with their industrial neighbours, the EPA and other government agencies involved in managing potential air quality impacts on the community and environment. The Committee also provides advice on how the community would like to be notified and kept informed on matters related to regional air quality. 

The Committee membership represents a broad range of views to ensure a balanced approach and open and honest dialogue between members of the local community, the coal mining and power generation industries, non-coal industries and local government.

Chair

headshot of John Turner

John Turner
Mr Turner was a solicitor who practised law in a number of places in the Hunter region.
He was an Alderman (Councillor) and Deputy Mayor on Cessnock City Council and a member of the State Parliament for 23 years.
Since retirement from Parliament Mr Turner has undertaken various activities including being the Administrator of MidCoast Council as well as serving as the independent chair of twelve community consultative committees associated with the mining and quarry industries and still chairs some of those committees.
He is also Chair of Regional Development Australia - Hunter.

Community representatives

headshot of John Krey

John Krey
Mr Krey has served as a community representative on the committee since 2014. Mr Krey is president of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association. John’s goal is to have EPA accept and implement recommendations from the committee to measurably improve the air quality in the Upper Hunter during this Committee term.

headshot of Michael White

Michael White
Mr White is a mining engineer with more than 25 years’ experience in mine operations for manganese, diamonds and coal. He worked for BHP from 1990-2013 in Australia and internationally and has held senior technical and management roles including the role of General Manager at Mt Arthur Coal from 2008-2013. Since 2014 he has operated his own resources consultancy business. Mr White has lived in the Muswellbrook area since 2001 and is eager to improve the management of air quality issues in the Upper Hunter.

headshot of Dr Bob Vickers

Dr Bob Vickers
Dr Vickers is a local born and raised GP working in Singleton, NSW. He has worked at Singleton Hospital Emergency Department and has provided surgical obstetric services to Singleton Hospital.
Dr Vickers has an Advanced Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and provides advanced care in women’s health. He has fellowship from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.
Dr Vickers is an advocate for local public health measures, particularly improving the air quality in the Hunter Valley. He has spent many years researching the health effects of adverse air quality on human health.

Environmental representative

headshot of Wendy Wales

Wendy Wales
Ms Wales was a founding member of the committee and re-joined in 2020 as the environmental representative, in connection with her membership on the Hunter Environment Lobby (HEL) and Denman Aberdeen Muswellbrook Scone Healthy Environment Group (DAMS HEG). Ms Wales lives in the Upper Hunter and is a retired Science Teacher. She became concerned about air quality and its monitoring while studying for a Masters in Environmental Education and after taking a student excursion to the hospital, the day after “a bad air” day.

Industry representatives 

headshot of Catherine Chicken

Dr Catherine Chicken
Dr Chicken is an equine veterinarian who lives in Scone. She is a consultant to the Scone Equine Hospital on pathology and infectious disease, based at the Scone Equine Hospital Laboratory.  She is a non-coal/power industry representative on this Committee, a position she has held since 2013. Catherine is deeply concerned about the deteriorating air quality of our region and is highly motivated to do what is required to improve air quality, and therefore quality of life, for all living in the Upper Hunter.

headshot of Ned Stephenson

Ned Stephenson
Mr Stephenson is the Environment and Climate Change Manager for Glencore Coal Assets Australia and has been in this role since late 2019. Prior to that he was at Glencore’s Mt Owen and Bulga Underground mines. Mr Stephenson is responsible for liaison with Glencore's NSW operations and driving improvement in the areas of compliance and assurance, air, water and noise management, as well as energy and greenhouse data management across Glencore's Australian coal assets.

headshot of Gary Mulhearn

Gary Mulhearn
Mr Mulhearn is Environment & Community Manager at the Yancoal Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) coal mine. His responsibilities with this role include planning approvals, licence and permit management, compliance with conditions of consent and licences, liaison with government and community engagement.  MTW operates its own air quality monitoring network around its mining operations, and also utilises data from stations of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network. Mr Mulhearn was appointed to the UHAQAC in 2020. 

headshot of Summer Steward

Summer Steward
Ms Steward is the Environment Business Partner for AGL Macquarie’s Bayswater and Liddell Power Stations. Ms Steward is responsible for overseeing regulatory compliance and driving environmental improvement. She has been employed at the Power Stations for 6 years and has also worked in coal mining.

Council representatives

headshot of Paul Jakes

Paul Jakes
Mr Jakes is Waste & Sustainability Manager with Upper Hunter Shire Council. He lives in Paterson and has a keen interest in environmental matters, particularly those relating to climate change. Paul has worked across a range of industries in both the public and private sectors, domestically and abroad.

headshot of Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward
Tracy Ward is a Sustainability Officer at Muswellbrook Shire Council where she has worked for the past ten years. She lives in Denman and is aware of air quality issues in the Upper Hunter. She is Council’s contact with Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s national air quality program and is keen to do whatever she can to improve air quality in the Upper Hunter. 

headshot of Danny Thompson

Danny Thompson
Danny has a lifetime interest in air quality and its effects on human health.
His family history is that his father and his brothers suffered from Tuberculosis.  Both his grandparents died from the disease and his father spent most of his life with 30-35% normal lung capacity.  So, air quality and its effects on respiratory function has always been important to him.
Danny has been a resident of Singleton his entire life, with the exception of his time away at university.
In his working life, Danny is a Hospital Scientist.  Danny has knowledge of the chemistry and hopefully an understanding of the pollutants in our atmosphere and their effects on the residents of the Hunter Valley.

Presentations made to the Committee

The scope of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee is to provide advice to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), other relevant NSW Government agencies, and the Minister for Energy and Environment on matters related to the monitoring and management of regional air quality in the upper Hunter Valley.

The Advisory Committee is established under the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991, Division 4 Advisory Committees.

Further information about the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network

A.  Appointment of Advisory Committee

  1. The committee is to be called the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee.
  2. The Advisory Committee is to be comprised of the following members, each of whom is to be appointed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the EPA or the CEO’s delegate:
    1. one independent chairperson
    2. two representatives of the coal mining industry
    3. one representative of the power generation industry
    4. one representative of Muswellbrook Shire Council
    5. one representative of Singleton Shire Council
    6. one representative of Upper Hunter Shire Council
    7. three representatives of the local community
    8. one representative of an environmental group
    9. one representative of Upper Hunter commerce or industries other than the mining or power industries
  3. Each person appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee is to be a person who, in the opinion of the EPA, demonstrates a strong connection with the interest group they seek to represent, the skills to represent their group, taking into consideration the views of other groups, and a commitment to the establishment of the network. Committee members will also be selected to ensure that the committee represents a cross-section of community interests.
  4. If the EPA declines to appoint a person nominated as a member of the Advisory Committee by a person or body referred to in subclause (2), the EPA may invite the person or body to nominate another person as member of the Advisory Committee.
  5. The Chairperson referred to in subclause (2)(a) is to be independent and preferably will not be associated with any interest group listed in subclauses 2(b)-(i). The Chairperson will demonstrate high-level skills and extensive experience in effectively chairing meetings, committees or advisory groups.
  6. The EPA will provide secretariat and administrative resources for the Advisory Committee.
  7. The EPA may invite representatives of other NSW Government agencies to attend committee meetings so that the Advisory Committee can advise them on relevant issues.

B.   Functions of Advisory Committee

  1. The Advisory Committee has the following functions:
    1. To advise the EPA, other NSW government agencies and the Minister for Energy and Environment on such matters as may be raised by their interest group that fall within the scope of the Committee.
    2. To consider issues which may be referred to it by the EPA in connection with regional air quality monitoring and management.

C.   Constitution of the Advisory Committee

Please refer to Schedule 1 for the Constitution of the Advisory Committee.

Schedule 1: Constitution of the Upper Hunter Air Quality Advisory Committee
NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)

1.    Terms of office of members

A member of the Advisory Committee may hold office for a period of two years. Committee members whose membership has expired, and who continue to meet the assessment criteria, are eligible for reappointment.

2.    Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct applies during Advisory Committee meetings, and any associated correspondence between Committee members and advising agencies. Committee members will be expected to follow this Code when dealing with other members, observers, guest speakers, technical experts, and any other person/s that attends a meeting or is involved in correspondence relating to this committee.

Each committee member is subject to the following Code of Conduct requirements. Any advising agency or external attendee who attends a Committee meeting, will be subject to this Code of Conduct.

  1. Act in an honest and ethical manner
  2. Respect and show consideration to others;
    1. Value diversity, differing roles and opinions
    2. Consider people equally without prejudice or favor
    3. Allow others to be heard
    4. Refrain from being offensive or disrespectful
  3. Do not act on behalf of, or represent the Committee, in any circumstance including external correspondence, meetings, or any engagement with others, unless it has been agreed upon by the Committee.
  4. Attend all meetings or give apologies. If a member cannot regularly attend meetings, provide an alternative representative as their deputy (See 4 Deputies).
  5. Provide any agenda items to the Chair prior to a meeting and follow the agreed Agenda during the meeting.
  6. Accept group decisions, and only re-visit closed agenda items if new, relevant subject matter emerges.

3.    Remuneration

All non-industry and non-government members are eligible to receive remuneration (including travelling and subsistence allowances) as outlined in the remuneration framework for NSW Government boards and committees.

4.    Deputies

  1. Committee members may request a person to be the deputy of that member. The EPA may agree to any such request.
  2. In the absence of a member, the member’s deputy may, if available, act in the place of the member.
  3. While acting in the place of a member, a person:
    1. has all the functions of the member and is taken to be a member, and
    2. is entitled to receive remuneration(including travelling and subsistence allowances) as determined by the EPA.
  4. For the purposes of this clause, a vacancy in the office of a member is taken to be an absence of the member.

5.    Vacancy in office of members

  1. The office of a member becomes vacant if the member:
    1. is medically unfit,
    2. completes a term of office and is not reappointed,
    3. resigns the office in writing addressed to the EPA,
    4. is removed from office by the EPA under this schedule and clause,
    5. is absent from four consecutive meetings of the Advisory Committee of which reasonable notice has been given to the member personally or by post, except where advice requesting an absence has been accepted by the EPA,
    6. becomes bankrupt, applies to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors, compounds with his or her creditors or makes an assignment of his or her remuneration for their benefit, or
    7. is convicted in NSW of an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more or is convicted elsewhere than in NSW of an offence that, if committed in NSW, would be an offence so punishable.
  2. The EPA may at any time remove a member from the Committee.

6.    Filling a Committee position

If a position on the Committee becomes vacant, the EPA will issue an expression of interest for nominations to fill the vacancy. Where no nomination is received the Committee may continue until such time that a suitable person nominates and is appointed.

7.    Chairperson

  1. The Chairperson vacates office as Chairperson if the person:
    1. is removed from office by the EPA, or
    2. ceases to be a member.
  2. The EPA may at any time remove the Chairperson from office as Chairperson.

The Chairperson will be entitled to be paid such remuneration (including travelling and subsistence allowances) as stated in Part 3 of this Schedule.

8.    Disclosure of pecuniary interest

The Advisory Committee is a non-statutory committee formed to advise the EPA on the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network and the management of regional air quality in the Upper Hunter Valley. The disclosure of pecuniary interests for this advisory committee is an EPA requirement.

  1. If a member of the Advisory Committee has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered at a meeting of the Advisory Committee, and this interest appears to raise a conflict with the proper performance of the member’s duties in relation to the consideration of the matter, the member must, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to the member’s knowledge, disclose the nature of the interest at a meeting of the Advisory Committee
  2. A disclosure by a member at a meeting of the Advisory Committee that the member:
    1. is a member, or is in the employment, of a specified company or other body, or
    2. is a partner, or is in the employment, of a specified person, or
    3. has some other specified interest relating to a specified company or other body or to a specified person, is a sufficient disclosure of the nature of the interest in any matter relating to that company or other body or to that person which may arise after the date of the disclosure and is required to be disclosed under subclause (1) of the Terms of Reference.
  3. Particulars of any disclosure made under this clause must be recorded by the Advisory Committee in the minutes of the meeting concerned.
  4. A member of the Advisory Committee is not disqualified from taking part in any deliberation of the matter, or in a decision with respect to the matter, because of the member’s pecuniary interest.
  5. A contravention of this clause does not invalidate any advice of the Advisory Committee.

9.    Procedures of Advisory Committee

Subject to this Schedule, the procedures of the Advisory Committee are to be drafted by the EPA and supported by the Advisory Committee.

10.  Quorum

The quorum requirement for a meeting of the Advisory Committee is that a majority of its members are present for the duration of the meeting.

11.  Presiding member

  1. The Chairperson is to preside at a meeting of the Advisory Committee.
  2. The presiding member has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, has a second or casting vote.

12.  Voting

A decision supported by a majority of the votes cast at a meeting of the committee at which a quorum is present is a decision of the Advisory Committee.

13.  Minutes

The Advisory Committee is required to keep minutes of proceedings at its meetings. The EPA acts as secretariat to the Advisory Committee.

14.  Meeting frequency

As a minimum, the Advisory Committee is expected to meet at least twice a year.

 For more information on the monitoring network itself, visit the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network webpage.

If you have comments or feedback on the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network please email: airmonitoring.upperhunter@environment.nsw.gov.au.

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