The Nationals for regional Australia
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Our Team

Federal Management Committee


Christine Ferguson
Federal President, The Nationals

Christine lives on a property near Gundagai where she and her husband run a family business producing prime lambs, wool and cattle

She has a background in nursing from Alfred Hospital (Melbourne) and Simpsons Maternity Hospital (Edinburgh), as well as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England in Armidale.

Christine has served as a Councillor on Gundagai Shire Council, The Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Committee, Riverina Regional Economic Development Organization, Envirofund Australia NSW. She has also been a delegate from NSW to the Constitutional Convention, a member of Red Cross and a volunteer for the Friends of Togo Charity Africa.

She has held many positions within the National Party structure for 20 years, and was Chairman of the NSW Nationals from 2007-2012.

 Scott Mitchell

Scott Mitchell 

Federal Director, The Nationals

Scott Mitchell has been Federal Director of The Nationals since March 2012.

Born in regional Victoria, Scott was raised on his family’s mixed cropping and grazing property near Echuca, a business which, after schooling, he became a partner.

Scott’s professional involvement withThe Nationals began with the Victorian Secretariat in 1998.  He was Federal President of the Young Nationals from 1999 – 2001.

Since this time Scott has worked on numerous State and Federal election campaigns and by-elections in Victoria and New South Wales.

Prior to his appointment as FederalDirector, Scott served for five years as Chief of Staff to the Western Australian Government’s Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; Corrective Services, the Hon Terry Redman MLA.

In this role Scott successfully managed the transition to Government, the introduction of many initiatives and oversaw significant policy reform and major transformation of the Agriculture and Food and Forestry agencies in Western Australia.

From 2005 to 2008 Scott was the Manager of Trade Policy at the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) in Canberra. This included responsibility for international trade policy – the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

During the Howard-Anderson Government, Scott most notably worked for the Hon Mark Vaile, Australia’s former Trade Minister for four years as a Political and Trade Advisor where he was responsible for the WTO, agriculture and several domestic political issues.

Scott was The Nationals Federal Campaign Director for the 2013 federal election. He has served locally on many State and Federal Campaign Committees and in numerous other Party positions.


John Tanner
Immediate Past Federal President, The Nationals

John Tanner owns and operates a small business in Benalla, north-eastern Victoria, which he started over 30 years ago.  As a local resident with a client base of country people, John understands first hand the issues facing people in regional Australia. With a commitment to sustaining and enhancing country communities, John has used his industry knowledge and experience to strongly advocate for small business opportunities and regional development.  He was a country delegate in the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce 1990-1994, a member of the State Executive Australian Small Business Association 1990-1994 and as State Chairman of the Timber Industry Road Evaluation Study in 1996.

John has also served as a Board member of the North East Regional Water Board 1997-2001, Delatite Economic Board 1998-2000 and Benalla & District Hospital 1999-2002. He was also a Local Government Commissioner in the Shire of Delatite 1994–1997.John has a history of strong involvement in community activities and was awarded a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship in 1994 in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contribution to the community during the devastating floods which affected Benalla.  John continues his community work and since 2000 has been actively involved as a Director of the Portsea Camp, formally the Lord Mayor’s Children’s Camp. 

John’s involvement with The Nationals has evolved over many years. From local Branch President, Campaign Chairman and State Councillor, John works tirelessly to promote the democratic values and processes we enjoy in Australia.  His strategic management capabilities, vision for the party and commitment are demonstrated in his six years as State President of Victoria 2000–2006, serving 12 months as Federal Vice-President concurrently.  

John was elected Federal President of The Nationals in 2006 and served the maximum 6 years 

Dexter Davies
Senior Vice-President, The Nationals

 Pam Stallman

Pam Stallman
Federal Secretary, The Nationals

Pam Stallman was elected Federal Secretary of The Nationals in 2005.
Pam has been an active participant in politics at the local, state and federal levels.  She has always worked hard to engage her community in the political process and is a keen advocate for women's involvement in conservative politics.
Pam first got involved in The Nationals in 1978 when she joined the Young Nationals.  She went on to start a Women’s Branch in the Condamine area and served the Party in a range of roles over subsequent years, including Senior Vice President of The Nationals – Queensland, President of The Nationals – Queensland Women’s Section and President of the Women's Federal Council.  She organised the first National's Forum on Women in Politics, drawing together all the Party's female Parliamentarians and political aspirants from across the country to share their experiences and discuss the challenges confronted in a historically male profession. 
In 1998 Pam was elected to the Murilla Shire Council.  Her interests in local government have focused on planning, infrastructure projects and economic development.  Her other community interests have revolved around her now adult children, their education, and the challenges of parenthood in an isolated area.
Pam retired from her local council position in 2008 to concentrate on helping to grow the family business further.  She and husband Bill operate a cereal cropping and cattle fattening business near Condamine on Queensland’s Western Downs.
Pam holds a Bachelor of Business with a Major in Public Relations.
 John Sharp

Hon John Sharp ADFM FCIT
Federal Treasurer, The Nationals

John Sharp is originally from a farming and business background and has served as Treasurer of The Nationals since 2005. 
His political career commenced in 1980 at the age of 25 when he was elected to the Young Shire Council. The same year he was elected to the South West Slopes County Council and to the Southern Tablelands County Council. In 1981 he became Chairman of the Young Neighbourhood Council, the Young Tidy Towns Committee, and Deputy Chairman of the Livestock and Grain Producers District Council.
In 1984 he was elected to the Federal Parliament in the seat of Gilmore. Following a redistribution in 1993 he represented the seat of Hume. He served 14 years in the Federal Parliament and, from 1987 to the end of 1997, on the Federal Coalition's front bench as Shadow Minister and later as Minister for Transport and Regional Development.
During his parliamentary career he became well known and respected for his role in promoting aviation safety and was responsible for numerous reforms including a complete rewrite of the aviation regulations to simplify them.  He was also responsible for the reform of Australia's railways.
Following his retirement from Parliament in 1998 John established his own transport consulting company, Thenford Consulting.  From 1999 to 2001 he was a director of ADI-Fox.  He is currently a director of Australian Aerospace, Deputy Chairman of Australia's largest independent regional airline Regional Express (Rex), and Chairman of Pel Air, an airfreight business and charter operator.
John was Chairman of the Aviation Safety Foundation of Australia from 2001 to 2007.  He part owns and is Chairman of Power and Data Corporation and in 2007, was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Council of Parsons Brinckerhoff.
In 2002/03 he conducted a Review of the Australian Shipping Industry on behalf of the Australian Ship Owners Association and in 2008 he became the official mentor of the Chairman of the Roads and Traffic Authority in Dubai.
John is also involved in a number of voluntary organisations as a Trustee and Board Member of John McEwen House, Member of the University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Board and Co-Chair of the Cancer Council of NSW, Southern Highlands Branch.
John Sharp lives in the NSW Southern Highlands.
 Jacky Abbott

Dr Jacky Abbott
President, Women’s Federal Council, The Nationals

Jacky Abbott has been a member of the Federal Management Committee since 2006, and was elected as Chairman of the Policy Review Committee and then as President of the SA Nationals, before becoming President of The Nationals Women’s Federal Council in 2011.
Born in Adelaide, she spent most of her working life in Melbourne and Canberra, in publishing and government, eventually becoming Director of Public Relations in the Department of Primary Industry, and then in the Australian Federal Police.  She has been an adviser in the office of several Minister and MPs at State and Federal level, and holds a Masters degree in public policy (ANU) and a PhD (Deakin University).
Jacky’s involvement with The Nationals began in 2003 in Peter Ryan country, in the Leongatha South Branch and on Victorian State Council and its Management Committee.  In assisting numerous election campaigns, the Gippsland Federal by-election which brought Darren Chester to Canberra was probably the most exciting, although helping Tim Bull remove the independent in East Gippsland (Vic.), and Leslie Williams defeat the independent incumbent in Port Macquarie (NSW) also rated pretty highly.  Jacky was also the endorsed candidate for the Victorian State seat of Bass in 2006.
Jacky is married to Peter Edwards, and has two adult sons and a daughter, two grandsons and two stepdaughters.  After running a farm in South Gippsland, she now lives in Melbourne, with frequent visits to Venus Bay.

Cr Cameron O' Neil
Federal President, The Young Nationals

Cameron has spent the best part of the last 10 years living and working in far west and south western Queensland and for the past four years has called Roma home.
After completing a Bachelor of applied science in animal studies at the University of Queensland, Cameron worked for the former Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries before taking on roles within community run Natural Resource Management organisations across regional Queensland. 
Cameron has been involved with politics since 2006 and has held many roles with the former Queensland Nationals and now the Liberal National Party (LNP). Cameron is currently the President of the Roma Branch of the LNP and Vice President of the Warrego Electoral Council. 
Cameron is passionate about the future of regional Queensland and the contributions the next generation can have in shaping our community. Cameron is committed to Roma and the Maranoa and is also the President of the Roma Chamber of Commerce and a committee member of the Roma Show Society.
 Jacky Abbott

Peter Langhorne
Chair, Policy Standing Committee

Peter Langhorne has extensive policy experience at the highest levels of government.

He was Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister from January to December 2007 after serving as Senior Adviser to The Nationals Senate Leader Ron Boswell from August 2005 to January 2007.  For the five years prior to that he was Chief of Staff and Principal Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon John Anderson. 

In August 1996, the then Minister for Trade appointed Peter to the Office of Deputy Managing Director of Austrade.

Prior to joining the Australian Trade Commission, Peter occupied senior management and policy positions in the CSIRO, Departments of Primary Industry, Defence and National Resources and Energy. He also spent a number of years in the private sector, including in PNG.

Peter is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries, a Member of the Melbourne University Business School Association, Alumni of the International Institute of Management Development, Lausanne, Switzerland, and a Member of the Spatial Sciences Institute.  He is a graduate of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in science and holds post graduate qualifications in corporate management.

Peter has been an active member of The Nationals’ Policy Standing Committee after being co-opted to assist with the development of the Party’s 2009 and 2010 policy platforms.

Peter has also served as an office bearer of The Nationals, holding the elected positions of Campaign Chairman, Chairman of the Monaro Electorate Council, Secretary, Queanbeyan Branch and Delegate to Central Council.

Peter lives in Canberra, is married to Marlene and they have two married adult children.


Hon Niall Blair MLC President,
The Nationals – New South Wales

Niall hails from Goulburn, has lived and worked in Leeton and currently lives with his wife, Melinda and young son Lachlan, in the Southern Highlands.As a young father he’s deeply concerned with the struggle young families face with rising costs of living.

Niall is a graduate from Hawkesbury Agricultral College with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science, and after completing a Masters in Occupational Health and Safety, Niall worked as a technical training manager for Integral Energy Australia. No stranger to responsibility, his role included looking after 180 staff and managing a million-dollar budget.

In 2005 Niall and Melinda started their own safety consultancy company – Admire Workplace Safety.Before entering parliament Niall travelled all over regional NSW to meet with his clients.

Niall is a sports addict and keen horseman. He has completed six half ironman triathlons and enjoys working his horses.
 Gary Spence

Gary Spence
Vice-President, Liberal National Party of Queensland

Gary Spence is the inaugural Vice-President of the Liberal National Party of Queensland.
Gary is Managing Director of national consulting engineering firm, Brown Consulting, a firm he’s helped develop and grow to a point that it now employs over 200 staff in offices across Australia’s eastern seaboard and in Singapore.

At the same time, Gary has successfully completed both a Master of Applied Law and a Master of Business Administration.  He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an Officer Fellow of the Association of Consulting Engineers.

Gary’s strong personal belief in the need for the property development industry to embrace a practical green agenda has seen him dedicate a considerable amount of his working life to demonstrating the tangible benefits of such a goal to industry. This has resulted in Gary helping found the Australian Green Development Forum – an industry body set up to facilitate and encourage sustainable development.

Gary is a Director of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) and chairs its Envirodevelopment Initiative. The Initiative provides developers with a rating tool which can be used to market their developments if they reach high environmental standards.

For the past three years Gary has also sat on the Board of Brisbane CityWorks – the Brisbane City Council’s civil construction and maintenance division employing over 1100 staff across Brisbane.
Gary grew up in the regional Queensland towns of Ingham, Mackay, Townsville and Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with wife Sabrina and the couple’s three teenage daughters.
Robert Mitchell

Peter Schwarz
President, The Nationals – Victoria


Colin de Grussa  
President, The Nationals – Western Australia

Colin is a third generation farmer from Neridup, north-east of Esperance in southeastern Western Australia.

He was elected president of The Nationals WA in August 2013 after running for the seat of Eyre at the March State election and narrowly missing out on winning.

Growing up Colin attended Castletown Primary School and Esperance Senior High School before moving to Perth to study an advanced certificate in microcomputer technology at the Central Institute of Technology in East Perth.

He used these skills to work in sales and support for a large computer wholesaler, before deciding that regional life suited him better.

Colin then undertook an associate degree in agriculture at Muresk, where he graduated with a distinction.

He moved back to the farm in 1998 and became involved in community and agri-political groups, including Esperance Rural Leadership, the National Council of Young Farmers and WA Farmers.

Colin and his wife Catherine live on their family farm with their three daughters Chloe, Mya and Nyree.

In September 2013 Colin was awarded a prestigious Nuffield Australia 2014 Scholarship and will continue to manage his farming enterprise over the next 12 months while travelling abroad to research how farmers across the globe interact with government to benefit their industry.


Mr Grantley Siviour
President, The Nationals – South Australia

Grantley is a wheat and sheep farmer from Cleve on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
He and wife Tricia have three children and are heavily involved in their local community, as well as operating their farming interests.
Grantley joined the Nationals in 1980, as an inaugural SA Young Country Party member, and over the next three decades has held nearly every position possible at branch and State level in the South Australian National Party.
He served as State Director from 1990-1996, State Vice President from 1997-2002, State Treasurer since 2002, has been a candidate in State elections on three occasions, and Campaign Director for other candidates at State and Federal elections.
With a rural background, experience in the stock & station industry in his younger days, and an accounting background he has always championed the causes of the forgotten people in the rural and regional areas.
He has been an elected member on the Cleve District Council for several years and currently chairs several community organisations.
His involvement in politics and knowledge of political processes ensures he is constantly sourced for information within his local community.
Grantley’s contribution to the SA Nationals and his selfless involvement at State level for twenty five years was acknowledged in 2010 with a Life Membership.
With South Australia being a predominantly metropolitan based, traditional Labor state, Grantley believes the Nationals still have a vital role in delivering representation to those who most need it in the regional areas of the state. 

Ross Connolly
President, Country Liberals (Northern Territory)