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Dr Ian McPhail has extensive experience in senior roles in State and Federal Government agencies.

He retired in May 2010 after five and a half years as the inaugural Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability for Victoria. In this role he had a number of clearly defined statutory tasks, which included the preparation of a State of the Environment Report, an annual strategic audit of the environmental management systems of government departments and principal agencies, and an audit of environmental education. A fourth statutory role allowed the Minister of the Environment to refer matters for report, and under this heading a major study of government purchasing was undertaken.

Prior to his appointment Dr McPhail had spent 10 years in Queensland. Between 1994 and 1999 he was Chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and in this role, Dr McPhail participated in the development of Australia's Ocean Policy, which resulted, among other developments, in the creation of the National Oceans Office. After that he was Deputy Director-General, Policy, of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency and before that Executive Director of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Preceding this Dr McPhail was for 18 years the CEO of a number of agencies in South Australia, including local government, environment and planning, and education, and moved to Canberra as the inaugural Executive Director of the Commonwealth Environmental Protection Agency in 1992.

He was fortunate in participating directly in both the Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the Johannesburg World summit on Sustainable Development.

Dr McPhail has the unique experience of being sequentially a Commissioner of the Murray Darling Basin Commission for three governments – South Australia, the Commonwealth and Queensland, regrettably with no apparent improvement in the health of the Murray system!

He has held the appointment of Professorial Fellow in the University of Melbourne, and holds appointments as Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Sustainable Business and Development, University of Southern Queensland and School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management.

In 2002, Dr McPhail was appointed a member in the Order of Australia (AM) for service to conservation and the environment, particularly through development of Government policies and programmes, and to the reform of national parks and wildlife administration in Australia.


  • –present
    Adjunct Professor, University of Southern Queensland