The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, and the Member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs, welcomes the appointment of Ms Giovanna Webb to the Executive Committee of the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR).

Opportunities for Australians in Latin America continue to increase. The number of Australian companies operating there continues to grow rapidly, particularly in the mining and agriculture sectors.

Increasing numbers of Latin American students are choosing to study in Australia each year, with an estimated 40,000 enrolled in 2014. These young people are ensuring a new generation of Latin Americans know and understand Australia and its people.

Ms Webb – who originally hails from Colombia – is an eminent Northern Territory businesswoman and winner of the 2013 Northern Territory Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Rural Woman of the Year Award.

An Australian of the Year finalist in 2014, she has successfully combined her business and research expertise to assist in the economic development of local indigenous communities by providing hands-on business and training skills.

Ms Webb will enhance the board’s expertise in agriculture, indigenous development and trade and investment – fields critical to the future of our engagement with Latin America.

We thank retiring COALAR board member Craig Foster for his dedicated work in supporting sports diplomacy between Australia and Latin America.

COALAR was established in 2001 by the Federal Government to enhance Australia’s economic, political and social relations with Latin America.

COALAR Board Members (November 2014)

Mr Chris Gale (Chairman) is Managing Director of Latin Resources and has significant executive management experience and commercial, finance and natural resources management skills. In 2008, he established the company Peruvian Latin Resources SAC in Peru, a wholly owned subsidiary of Latin Resources Ltd.

Ms Robyn Archer AO FAHA is an artistic director and celebrated artist in her own right. She is currently Deputy Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, Strategic Advisor, Arts and Culture Gold Coast. In 2014 Robyn has given concerts in Tasmania, Port Fairy and Hong Kong, and addresses in Poznan and Beijing: she is also currently mentoring a range of younger artistic directors.

Mr Christian Bennett is Vice President, General Electric and was previously Vice President, Government Relations, with BHP Billiton. Mr Bennett has also worked for the Australian Government, including as High Commissioner to Brunei. Mining is a key driver of economic activity between Australia and Latin America and BHP Billiton has a significant footprint in the region.

Dr Anna Ciccarelli, an International Education consultant, was previously Deputy Vice Chancellor (International) at the University of Queensland leading one of the most active Australian universities in Latin America. She is the 2014 recipient of the International Education Association of Australia award for Excellence in International Education Leadership. Education is a key area of engagement between Australia and the LATAM region.

Ms Jane McKeon is Group Executive, Government Relations, with Virgin Australia. She is a member of the Tourism and Transport Forum Advisory Board and was a Commissioner with Tourism WA from 2011-13, and brings valuable expertise in the priority area of tourism.

Mr Tim McLennan is the Chief Executive Officer for the International Energy Centre and was previously Director of Business Development and Commercialisation at CSIRO from 2007 to 2011. He played a critical role in building CSIRO’s involvement in Latin America.

Mr Victor Perton is an experienced Latin Americas expert having led trade missions, engaged in export promotion, foreign direct investment, education and cultural relationships. He is a former Commissioner to the Americas, past President of the Australia New Zealand Mexico Chamber of Commerce and in 2014 has been a senior adviser to Australia's G20 presidency engaging with the Latin American G20 members.

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