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New head for National Plant Biosecurity CRC

Media Release: 8 August 2005

CANBERRA:  The newly-funded Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity today announced the appointment of Dr Simon McKirdy as its Chief Executive Officer.

Dr McKirdy promised industry-focussed leadership to the CEO position, saying that the CRC will deliver "real outcomes that will benefit the grower on the ground."

"The CRC for National Plant Biosecurity will provide the scientific research required to underpin the future biosecurity of Australia's plant industries," Dr McKirdy said. 

The Centre will develop technology to minimise the impact of plant biosecurity incursions to Australia, with research programs in areas of: preparedness and prevention, diagnostics, surveillance, and impact management, as well biosecurity education and training.

"The CRC will supply scientific expertise and training to increase Australia's capacity to deal with future plant biosecurity incursions," Dr McKirdy said.

Dr McKirdy will lead the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity's diverse portfolio of plant biosecurity research and training projects.

Technology produced at the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity will be largely delivered through its 19 participants from industry, government and research organisations Australia-wide, while the Centre is also actively developing linkages with international organisations involved in plant biosecurity, an area which is recognised as a major global challenge to the plant industries.

The change of jobs will be a smooth transition for Dr McKirdy who moves from a Program Management position with Plant Health Australia Ltd (PHA), a core participant in the new CRC, to take-up the CEO position.

"Simon McKirdy brings a wealth of experience from the full spectrum of plant biosecurity management and research to the CRC," said the CRC's Chairman, Professor John Lovett.

"His appointment has been welcomed by the Centre's Participants and well received by industry; he will be an asset to the Centre," he added.

Dr McKirdy will take over from Dr Bill Roberts, now Chief Scientist with Biosecurity Australia, who has been acting as interim CEO during the Centre's start-up phase.

The CRC for National Plant Biosecurity, to be based in Canberra, will commence operations formally in September this year.


Brief Bio: Dr Simon McKirdy

Simon McKirdy (PhD University of Western Australia, 1997) is a trained plant pathologist and has published widely in the area of plant virology, addressing a range of crops across horticulture, grains, legumes and viticulture.  Prior to his appointment at Plant Health Australia, Simon McKirdy held a quarantine plant pathology position with the Western Australia Department of Agriculture.