The Chair of the Board of Directors of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) regretfully announces the coming departure of long-standing Chief Executive Officer, Ross Hampton and the appointment of Hon Joel Fitzgibbon as Interim Chief Executive Officer who will lead AFPA from February 2023, whilst a search is conducted for a new Chief Executive Officer.
Chair Diana Gibbs said, “After a decade leading AFPA, Ross Hampton has announced that he plans to move to the United Kingdom to pursue the interests of forest industries through global platforms. AFPA, and the whole industry, was very fortunate to secure Ross ten years ago when our combined representative body was less than two years old. Ross has overseen the growth of AFPA from a handful of staff and only 35 member companies, to being truly the influential, pan-industry, advocacy body the founders envisaged. The ultimate indication of the success of a representative body, in which members voluntarily contribute fees, is how engaged members are and how many have chosen to join the common cause. Under Ross, membership has grown every year and in every state. AFPA now represents - either directly or via the associated State-based entities - the vast majority of our $24 billion national forest industry sector. Ross leaves very big shoes to fill.”
CEO Ross Hampton said, “It has been a great honour and privilege to work with our incredibly talented AFPA team members, our dedicated Directors and the hundreds from our Member companies that I have met as I have travelled around Australia. To a woman and man, you believe passionately in the place for sustainable forest industries in the environmental, social and economic life of our nation. There are some 80,000 people employed across the full value chain of forest industries; from the truck drivers and machine operators to the scientists in their lab coats. Every morning I have gone to work thinking of you and how we can better your lives and help secure your futures. If the last decade has had one overriding theme, it has been that our national leadership, processes and systems need to better recognise the miracle of forestry. Done sustainably, as we do in Australia - with every tree we use replanted or regrown - our nation and the world has access to the ultimate renewable and a big part of the solution to the greatest environmental challenge of our generation in climate change. I think we can say that the penny has started to drop. It was a major breakthrough to join the NFF and the Government at the Climate Conference in Egypt. There is now real momentum as we seek to fully realise our potential to take our rightful place as a major part of the climate change solutions toolkit.
“My work has necessarily involved deep and ongoing connections with federal politicians and I am profoundly indebted to each and every one who have been prepared to listen to our arguments and help us co-create outcomes which are for the good of Australia. My special thanks must go to the Ministers and Shadow Ministers, and Assistant Ministers and Shadow Assistant Ministers, as well as the Co-Convenors of our Federal Parliament Friendship group, who have had responsibility for forest industries across the last decade. I also pay tribute to the Members of the cross bench who have been so willing to open their doors to us. All these federal politicians have made their positive mark on our shared future.”
Diana Gibbs said, “Whilst Ross will remain as CEO until early next year, the search will begin immediately for our next CEO. We will cast the net very widely and look to ensure continuity and even more successes for AFPA in the years to come.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that Hon Joel Fitzgibbon, former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has agreed to temporarily stand down from his AFPA Board Director role to take the helm of AFPA as Interim CEO whilst we conduct the search. In Joel we have a forest industries champion who knows how federal politics works better than almost anyone. This is a great coup for us all and will ensure we do not miss a beat. Joel will commence as Interim CEO in February 2023.”
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