Chair's report: John Bethel

The 2009/10 financial year has been one of great progress for the company in a very difficult operating environment. We have consistently delivered project outcomes of the highest calibre with limited funding all while continuing to deliver value for money to our funding partners while remaining true to the documented aspirations of our community. The launch of the "Little Book of Big Achievements" at the start of the year documents the achievements of Northern Gulf for all to see as well as being a tribute to the staff, our funders and our community of interest.

One of our flagship projects for several years now has been the "Ghost Nets" program which has picked up several national awards. In 2010 it has picked up a United Nations award which is a massive Nets team which now extends right across the North of Australia and is also going international. On behalf of the company I wish to express our gratitude for such a magnificent effort.

For a number of years now, Northern Gulf has been at the cutting edge of delivering GIS services to both our extensive and intensive agricultural stakeholders and this service is still in hot demand. The Delbessie lease renewal process is made much simpler by this service and the man operating environment where primary producer margins are being constantly squeezed. To have such a high calibre of technical expertise within the company is rewarding in itself, and what the team provides is a community in this region and is greatly appreciated by all who use it. Our spatial technicians have continued to lead the state in GIS utilisation and extension over the past year and have set the benchmark for the rest to follow. Well done to the team.

We have added an extra string to the spatial bow over the past year with the start of a Monitoring and Evaluation project for the region which is aimed at capturing the trend in environmental condition and will enable scientifically based benchmarking into the future. This program will add scientific rigour to what we all think is a positive trend in resource condition by enabling the community to have baseline data to measure against. This is a first for Australia and it will enable the Gulf Region to develop a set of environmental accounts. We are working with the Wentworth Group on this project as they have long advocated that this process be established for all of Australia. It also makes good sense to measure trend and we are getting value for the dollars we continue to spend on the environment.

The company and staff have continued to support and lobby for those affected by the devastating floods of 2009 in the Gulf Rivers and have made some progress, although there are still many frustrations to deal with. We were able to get an unprecedented Exceptional Circumstances Declaration approved along with a funding package, through the CFoC program, but it is still very clear that the level of understanding of the issues by politicians and the beauracracy is very unsatisfactory and there is still a lot of work to do to in educating the decision makers of the consequences of inaction, both to the people and the environment.

The biggest decision the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group Pty Ltd made over the past year was to enter the corporate world in a bid to eventually be self-funding. We have established a company called "Grass Roots Innovations" and they have been tasked with seeking out ethical investment opportunities both within and outside the region. We have employed two people from the corporate world to drive this company on our behalf and they have already started investing in business opportunities. The most advanced investment to date is the partnership with Trust Nature FNQ and the Tablelands Regional Council, turning their green waste into compost and selling it on to farmers on the Tablelands. So far, demand has outstripped supply so this venture looks to have a very rosy future. Grassroots have several other potential investments undergoing due diligence and will soon move to the business planning stage. The profits from Grassroots Innovations will be invested back into the Northern Gulf community to fund high priority community based projects that we are unable to fund through traditional grant application processes. I believe it is an exciting development for this region and a very progressive move by NGRMG.

The past year has also seen NGRMG take a very proactive position by strategically lobbying politicians and beaurocracy to alert them to the perverse outcomes of some policy decisions and attempt to offer proactive alternatives on behalf of our community. Our association in conjunction with Todd Lloydell has greatly assisted the company to achieve better outcomes and the Exceptional Circumstance Declaration for the Gulf Rivers is one example of this success. This has also lifted the company profile at State and National level and has positioned the company very well as a voice of reason an need to be resolved. This is of great value to a community which has struggled to have a voice in the past and is something to be proud of.

The company has very sound governance structures in place for the future in a very uncertain world and this is a credit to all and is something to value highly going forward.

Annual Reports
Annual Report: 2009-2010
Publication date 
Wednesday, 30 June, 2010