Boards for new ACT land agencies named, Michael Easson and John Fitzgerald to chair
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Boards for new ACT land agencies named, Michael Easson and John Fitzgerald to chair

A former chairman of Icon Water and ActewAGL Michael Easson will chair the powerful new agency charged with developing Northbourne Avenue, the city centre and the lake, Chief Minister Andrew Barr will announce on Tuesday.

Mr Easson heads the board of the City Renewal Authority, which begins work on July 1, replacing the troubled Land Development Agency.

Sydney lawyer Christine Covington, who becomes deputy chairwoman of the City Renewal Authority.

Sydney lawyer Christine Covington, who becomes deputy chairwoman of the City Renewal Authority.Credit:Tamara Voninski

The Suburban Land Agency, which will take over the job of developing new suburbs, will be chaired by the chairman of the light rail project board, John Fitzgerald.

Mr Barr has appointed five members to the Suburban Land Agency and six to the City Renewal Authority board, with a woman in the deputy chair's role for both. A seventh spot on the City Renewal Authority will be filled by a National Capital Authority appointment made by the federal territories minister.

Michael Easson, who will chair the ACT's new City Renewal Authority, in charge of developing Northbourne Avenue, the city centre and the lake front.

Michael Easson, who will chair the ACT's new City Renewal Authority, in charge of developing Northbourne Avenue, the city centre and the lake front.Credit:Louise Kennerley

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Mr Barr has not provided specific detail on where the new board members are based, but it appears from their online profiles that perhaps only one, Suburban Land Agency board member Peter Howman, lives in Canberra.

The appointment of outsiders could well allay ongoing concerns about the close relationship between the Land Development Agency and the city's development community.

Mr Barr has yet to announce the chief executives of the two new agencies.

Mr Easson was chairman of ActewAGL and Icon Water until March this year and remains on the ActewAGL board. He is executive chairman of EG, a Sydney based real estate fund manager whose website says it manages $2.4 billion of property assets. He is chairman of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and Mr Barr said he had also served on the boards of businesses including rail, rail, roads, property, construction, infrastructure.

John Fitzgerald, right, with former ACT ministers Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher. Mr Fitzgerald, head of the light rail board, also becomes chairman of the Suburban Land Agency.

John Fitzgerald, right, with former ACT ministers Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher. Mr Fitzgerald, head of the light rail board, also becomes chairman of the Suburban Land Agency.Credit:Matt Bedford

Mr Fitzgerald moved to Canberra in 2013 to chair the light rail project board, but appears to be now based in Melbourne, where since January he has headed the Evolution Rail consortium which won a bid last year to deliver 65 new trains to the Victorian government in a $2 billion project.

Mr Fitzgerald's deputy on the Suburban Land Agency will be Suzanne Jones, who chairs the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Council, and is a director of Urban Growth NSW, a state-owned corporation in charge of with urban transformation.

Sydney lawyer Christine Covington becomes deputy chairwoman of the City Renewal Authority. Ms Covington is a solicitor of the NSW Supreme Court and a specialist in environmental and planning law at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. She is also a member of the Central Sydney planning committee and on the boards of the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

The other members of the City Renewal Authority board are:

Kate Brennan, who deputy chairwoman of the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct, a member of the project group for Queen Victoria Market Renewal and the former chief executive of Fed Square, which managed Federation Square in Melbourne. She has long involvement in th arts.

  • Nigel Chamier, a former managing director for the Asia Pacific of Jones Lang La Salle, and a member of Brisbane's Southbank Corporation​. He is a former chairman of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation and Brisbane's Office of Economic Development.
  • Ken Maher, a Sydney architect and former chairman of Hassell and former president of the Australian Institute of Architects. Mr Maher has reviewed the City to the Lake project.
  • Gabrielle Trainor, a commissioner of the AFL and former board member of the GWS Giants, the chairwoman of the National Film and Sound Archive, and a member of Infrastructure Australia.

The other members of the Suburban Land Agency board are:

  • Angus Dawson, a former chief executive of the Honeysuckle Development Corporation which redeveloped land on Newcastle's harbour, who has a property and planning consultancy, Dawson James.
  • Peter Howman, former managing director of Defence Housing Australia and now with Canberra consultancy Development Strategic Advisory.
  • Julie Garland McLellan, who has a Sydney consultancy that advises boards.