Our interim Executive
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s interim Executive team will lead the department across three operational pillars:
Sustainability and Biosecurity
This pillar includes our biosecurity, resource management, and operations and compliance functions. It is largely regulatory and market access focussed, helping ensure Western Australia maintains its enviable reputation as a producer of safe, sustainable and biosecure agricultural and aquatic products.
Industry and Economic Development
This pillar leads our work in research, development and innovation to boost the productivity, profitability and international competitiveness of our agriculture, fisheries and food sectors across the value chain, and grow the value and diversification of our regional economies.
Strategy and Capability
This pillar supports all of our staff and ensures that we have the enabling strategy, resources and capability to deliver excellent public services.
The Executive team comprises:
Ralph brings a wealth of experience from the private, not-for-profit and government sectors. He has a natural affinity for regional WA having grown up on a farm at Cranbrook and spent much of his working life in Kununurra. Ralph was chairman of the Kimberley Development Commission for more than two years and has held a range of commercial, not-for-profit and local government board positions. He was most recently Director General at the Department of Regional Development where he drove an outcomes-based approach with a focus on jobs and economic growth. Ralph is a Chartered Accountant, holds a degree in Commerce, a Master of Agricultural Economics and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Heather Brayford was appointed Director General of the Department of Fisheries in April 2015. Following Machinery of Government changes in July 2017, Heather has taken on the role of Deputy Director General Sustainability and Biosecurity within the Department of Primary industries and Regional Development. Heather has more than 30 years’ experience in public policy and management, with a focus on fisheries and aquaculture. Her experience covers areas of legislation and regulation, compliance, biosecurity, and broader natural resource management. Heather has also held the position of Executive Director of Fisheries in the Northern Territory and is a past Director of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Heather holds a BSc, an MBA and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Niegel was appointed A/Deputy Director General, Industry and Economic Development in November 2017 having previously worked as Deputy Director General at the Department of Regional Development. Niegel is passionate about building vibrant regions with strong economies. Niegel worked in the oil and gas industry for 21 years, including in senior roles in metropolitan and regional Australia. He has also held roles at the Kimberley Development Commission, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and other WA public sector agencies, including seven years on the staff of WA Government ministers across local government, mines, energy and emergency services portfolios.
Mark has more than 34 years’ experience at the former Department of Agriculture and Food, involved in the state and national grains industry. He is internationally recognised for his work in crop protection, farming systems, crop genetics and plant biosecurity. Throughout his career, he has passionately led state and nationally significant research and innovation activities in partnership with industry and agribusiness.
Melissa was appointed A/Managing Director, Business Performance in November 2017 having previously worked as Executive Director of both the Policy and Investment Management divisions at the former Department of Regional Development. Prior to this, Melissa was Director of Integrated Transport Planning (Freight) at the Department of Transport. She has a strong strategic planning and development background, mainly within the infrastructure area as well as multi-modal freight transport and logistics strategy and policy formulation. Melissa also worked with Austrade where she gained international trade and inward investment experience and she has extensive private sector experience, including managing supply chain restructuring for major commodities, mostly in regional WA.