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Water professionals named in Queen’s birthday honours list

Three water sector leaders were recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours this year, including former Water Corporation CEO Sue Murphy, who received the day’s second-highest distinction.

Murphy was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the natural resources sector in Western Australia, and to engineering”.

After joining Water Corporation in 2004 as General Manager, Business, Murphy was named CEO in 2008. She led the utility for a decade, playing an important role in shaping Western Australia’s (WA) water future.

Speaking to the Australian Water Association in 2018, Murphy said leading Water Corporation had been “10 fabulous years of change”.

Sue Murphy.

“The water industry is the ultimate enabler,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s a single person in WA who isn’t influenced by what we do. It really is an all-pervasive business.

“The joy is that we cover nearly all customers in the whole state for water, wastewater and drainage. We have the capacity to do really detailed planning and the high-level strategy needed to keep the state operating, which is an absolute luxury.”

Murphy, who is a civil engineer, previously held various roles at Clough Limited, including Director of the Technical Resources Group and CEO of the Minerals and Infrastructure Division.

She received an International Women in Water Award from the International Water Association in 2014 and was named the WA Business Leader of the Year for 2018/19.

She is currently a Director of the WA Treasury Corporation, a Director of the Fremantle Dockers Football Club and serves as a Senate Member of the University of WA.

Member of the Order of Australia

Professor Rob Skinner, Director of Water Sensitive Cities at Monash University’s Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), was acknowledged for “significant service to environmental water management” with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Skinner is well known in the water sector as a champion of water sensitive urban design. He is currently Chair of WaterAid Australia and WaterAid International, and Deputy Chair of Yarra Valley Water.

He was also Managing Director of Melbourne Water from 2005 to 2011, where he played a key role in initiating a number of relationships between the utility and agencies in Singapore, UK, Israel and Timor Leste.

Prior to this, Skinner spent 10 years as CEO of Kingston Council.

MSDI Chair Professor John Thwaites said Skinner was “most deserving” of the recognition.

“Rob Skinner has been a visionary leader in water and sustainability … in Australia and globally,” Thwaites said.

Public Service Medal

The Public Service Medal (PSM) acknowledges outstanding service by state and federal government employees.

South Australian (SA) Department for Environment and Water Manager Lachlan Sutherland received a PSM for his service “to the delivery of water infrastructure projects, and through cooperation with Indigenous communities in SA”.

Sutherland has worked extensively with public and private sector organisations in Australia and around the world on Indigenous engagement in environmental and water management.

He was instrumental in developing the Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Recovery project in partnership with the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority, which led to positive outcomes for the government, the SA Murray-Darling Basin region and the Ngarrindjeri nation.

View the full Queen’s birthday 2019 honours list here.