Committee

Sean Edwards (Chair)

Following a successful business career building up and leading private and public property and wine companies, Mr Edwards was elected as a Senator to the Australian Parliament. Mr Edwards served as a member of the Australian Senate from 2011 to 2016 representing South Australia. He subsequently worked extensively on the Economics, Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade and Rural Affairs and Transport Standing Committees and chaired the Standing Committee of Economics between 2014 and 2016. Mr Edwards was active in community affairs from a young age and for many years has presided over and driven many public organisations, clubs and industry advocacy bodies. Before entering Parliament, Mr Edwards was an auctioneer, land and estate agent. Mr Edwards is a vigneron and winemaker in the Clare Valley, South Australia.

Ms Wendy Duncan

Ms Duncan is a former Western Australian Parliamentarian from 2008-2017, initially in the Legislative Council before representing the Assembly seat of Kalgoorlie. Ms Duncan was raised on her parents’ sheep station and she and her siblings received their early education from the School of the Air. Ms Duncan worked for the National Farmers’ Federation in Canberra from 1977-1979 while completing tertiary education. Before being elected to Parliament Ms Duncan had a career in agriculture, small business and local government. Following the 2008 election, she was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Lands. Ms Duncan was Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2013-2017 and was also the first female Western Australian Nationals State President. Ms Duncan retired from parliament at the 2017 state election.

Ms Johanna Plante

Ms Plante is well-known in the telecommunications industry having held leadership positions across industry for several decades with service providers, regulatory agencies, peak bodies and consumer organisations. Ms Plante has worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority, AUSTEL and the Australian Communications Industry Forum on consumer and disability issues, as well as working at Telstra, AUSTEL and Networking the Nation on regional telecommunications issues. Ms Plante has gained an in-depth understanding of the telecommunications needs and challenges faced by both industry providers and less ‘mainstream’ consumers including rural and regional residents and businesses, Indigenous communities, seniors, people with disability and those living in remote areas of Australia. She is the immediate past Chairperson of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, a role she held for five years. As a founding member in 2016, Ms Plante has also been a regular contributor and adviser to the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition.

Ms Robbie Sefton

Ms Sefton is a wool, meat and grain farmer and also the managing director of Seftons, a rural and regional strategic marketing company based in Tamworth, New South Wales. Ms Sefton has lived, worked and travelled all over regional, rural and remote Australia as a rural leader and advocate. Ms Sefton is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, the 2002 RIRDC NSW Rural Woman of the Year and a member of many boards and advisory groups for governments, businesses and not-for-profits. Robbie has been a board member of the Grazier’s Investment Company, a panel member on the Reserve Bank of Australia Small Business Finance Panel, and is currently the Deputy Chair of the National Australia Day Council. Ms Sefton has represented Australian rural women in international forums, such as the International Rural Women’s Conference, and in high level forums in Australia, including the Rural Women’s Summit in Canberra.

Ms Kylie Stretton

Ms Stretton is a rural advocate with experience in public relations, communications, telecommunications, rural mental health, education, regenerative agriculture and advancing rural communities. Ms Stretton is a co-founder/administrator for Better Internet for Rural Regional and Remote Australia. Her work involves administering, researching, sourcing and delivering technical support and information about internet and mobile communications in regional, rural and remote areas to approximately 12 000 followers on Facebook and Twitter. Ms Stretton has also been a member of AgForce Queensland’s Telecommunications Policy Committee since April 2017. Ms Stretton is a strong advocate for rural families and agriculture, especially the northern beef industry, and was named 2017 NAB Agribusiness Cattle Council of Australia Beef Rising Champion in November 2017. Ms Stretton is also the co-founder of the ‘Ask An Aussie Farmer’ Facebook community. Ms Stretton and her husband Shane are the owners and managers of a Charters Towers livestock agency, Northern Livestock Services, as well as operating Clancella Downs, where they produce beef and free-range eggs, and operate education programs.

Mr Paul Weller

Mr Weller is a dairy farmer and a known and trusted community leader who has provided a strong voice for rural Victoria for more than 20 years. Mr Weller is a former president of the Victorian Farmers’ Federation and a board member of the National Farmers’ Federation. Mr Weller was a Director of Murray Goulburn Co-operative during 2005 to 2006, before being elected to the Victorian Parliament. During his time as a Member of the Victorian Parliament, Mr Weller held the role of the Deputy Speaker of the House, and Chairman of the Rural and Regional Committee of the Victorian Parliament from 2011 to 2014. In 2016 Mr Weller was appointed Director on the Board of Agersens, a technology company developing equipment to help beef and dairy farmers automate the movement and control of their livestock.