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Committee Members

Russell Stewart

Russell Stewart - Chair

Russell was born and raised in Bellata near Narrabri and is the son of a Soldier Settler. He is a self-employed consultant and businessman after many years in Local Government. Russell is a passionate advocate of training and employment pathways that retain our young people in the region and is committed to the economic development of the 13 Local Government Areas in Northern Inland.

Russell has extensive experience across all three levels of government as well as the private sector. He is currently the President of the Narrabri & District Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Narrabri Coal Community Consultancy Committee and a member of the Narrabri Gas Community Consultancy Committee.


Russell lives in Narrabri with his wife Louise and is the proud father of two adult children, Thomas and Ashleigh, who remain in regional Australia working in their professional capacities.

Ian Lobsey OAM - Deputy Chair

Ian runs a small beef cattle enterprise near Wallabadah and is currently a Councilor with the Liverpool Plains Shire Council after 26 years as Mayor.  Ian is also a judge of the Country Link Inland Tourism Awards and a judge of the NSW Tourism Awards.


Ian has been involved in local governments for over 25 years and has always championed regional development.  Ian is passionate about providing opportunities for young people in regional areas and believes that any development must be sustainable for communities.

Les Parsons

Les Parsons

Les owns and operates Olives of Beaulieu and is a Director of Gwydir Olives Pty Ltd.  In addition he is also Managing Director of Arlington Pty Ltd. Les has 15 years experience in tourism development in NSW and has served as Chairman of several tourism organisations.


Les is a previous Chairman of the Inverell Regional Business Enterprise and is the Chairman of the Inverell  Enterprise Resource Investment Centre, a project management group.

Neil Argent

Neil Argent

Neil Argent (PhD) is an Associate Professor in Geography at the University of New England, Armidale. Prior to joining the University in 1996, Neil worked as a self-employed grazier and shearer in South Australia.

Neil has stayed somewhat true to these roots in his academic work; researching and teaching in the fields of regional development and rural social, economic and demographic change.

Through his active teaching and research roles throughout the Northern Inland, Neil has an excellent understanding of  many and various economic, social and environmental opportunities available within the region, as well as the potential and real threats to future development opportunities.

Sue Price

Sue has been involved in the Northern Inland since her time as a student at the University of New England in the 1970s.  Sue has been a key member of the Mungindi community since moving there in 1982 and runs a farming enterprise there with her husband Glen.


Sue was elected to the Moree Plains Shire Council in 2008 and has been Deputy mayor since then.  Sue is also the Treasurer of the Australian Rural Roads Group and a member of the Moree Plains Strengthening Basin Communities Program.


Sue is a fierce proponent for the need to upgrade and maintain rural infrastructure with a particular focus on local roads as they are where most of Australia's food and fibre begin their journey to market.

Elizabeth Tomlinson

Liz has 3 adult children and, with her son, operates a sheep enterprise in the Narrabri area. She is a member of the NSW Farmers Association Executive Council, Chair of Make It Work Foundation, as well as being active in several local organisations.

Liz holds tertiary qualifications in business management, law, financial counselling and community services.
Through past roles as a Rural Financial Counsellor, State President NSW Women in Agriculture, and in the Chamber of Commerce, Liz has knowledge of the many issues impacting regional business and, in particular, has expertise in the area of agricultural businesses and families. She has represented much of the Northern Inland area, at State and Federal levels, within the arena of agri-politics. Liz has also been a member of a board with oversight of government funding for mental health in the New England/ Northwest. She has been a keen advocate for rural people throughout her adult life.

Grahame Marriott

Grahame Marriott is based in Inverell and has followed a path in support of sustainable agriculture and communities throughout his life. Grahame has worked with the Commonwealth Department of Finance, the Industries Assistance Commission, has been a wool classer in the New England and North West area, project development consultant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission both in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and northern NSW a trainer and then Project Manager at Inverell Skill Training Inc. and
Managing Director and Company Secretary of BEST Employment Ltd.

Grahame is a Board member of Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and remains a member of the Governance Institute of Australia.

Lauren Zell

Lauren is a Regional Clean Energy Co-ordinator, and has been working in the business and residential clean energy and energy efficiency space for over eight years in various roles. Her background includes degrees in both Behavioural Science and Education for Sustainability, and she was recently awarded a scholarship to study a Masters of Energy at the prestigious International Energy Centre, with her impetus being about how Regional NSW can benefit from renewable energy  and energy efficiency opportunities, including both small and large scale generation opportunities.

Lauren is based in the Uralla area, has two small children, and in her limited spare time assists with the running of a small business with her husband. Lauren was raised on a grain, cattle and sheep farm in Western NSW and enjoys helping out with volunteer work and fundraising initiatives. Lauren’s past community work includes board work and board president. She has also been fortunate to have been a volunteer with Backtrack Youth Works for several years, as well as a judge for the Northern Inland Innovation Awards and the Tamworth Business Chamber and is passionate about regional opportunity, innovation and regional futures.