Commissioners and executive


Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte


Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte was appointed to the role of Commissioner of the Natural Resources Commission in June 2020. Hugh is an internationally recognised scientist and a world authority on artificial intelligence and robotics. In addition to his present role as Commissioner, he is also the current NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and has been in that role for two years providing independent science advice in support of policy delivery. This advice spans all government from water and resources, to energy and transport. Before this, he was the Chief Scientific Advisor, UK Ministry of Defence. Hugh has extensive experience leading organisations, providing independent scientific and strategic advice and liaising with industry and academia and is regarded as a world authority on machine learning and robotics. This work has had a transformational impact in large scale field robotics both locally and internationally in autonomous robot navigation and in large-scale intelligent systems with world-first commercial applications in areas such as automated cargo handling, autonomous mining, unmanned air, ground and subsea systems. Hugh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Australian Academy of Sciences and recipient of numerous awards including MA Sargent Medal, Institute of Engineers Australia and the NSW Scientist of the Year. Hugh has also been Director of the Centre for Translational Data Science at the University of Sydney, Chair of the NSW Government’s Innovation and Productivity Council and head of National IT Australia.

Dr Neil Byron

BSc (Hons), MA (Econ), PhD, FAICD
Assistant Commissioner

Neil has over 35 years of experience in advising governments in Australia and overseas on environmental management and natural resource management. As Productivity Commissioner, he conducted over 25 national inquiries related to the environment, agriculture and natural resource management. Neil chaired an independent review of Biodiversity Legislation in NSW. He has advised more than 20 governments in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Latin America on effectively integrating rural development with better environmental and social outcomes. He is an Honorary Professor at the Institute of Applied Sciences, University of Canberra, and at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University. Neil is also an active private pilot and member of the Cowra Aero Club.

Ken Baxter, AM

Assistant Commissioner

Ken has over 30 years direct involvement in the Commonwealth, Victorian and NSW governments. He is the first person since federation to have served as Secretary of the Premier's Department in both NSW and Victoria. Ken is Chairman of the PNG Sustainable Infrastructure Ltd, Policy Advisor to the Chief Secretary of Papua New Guinea Government, Director of Hydro Electric Corporation of Tasmania, and Chairman of the Computronics Holdings Ltd. Since 2015, Ken is Commissioner of the Productivity Commission, where he was involved in the review of the Murray Darling Basin Authority. As Director of the Hydro Electric Corporation of Tasmania, he has managed highly sensitive, at times controversial, interfaces with a broad spectrum of interest groups in balancing the generation of hydro-electricity and the protection of large areas of native forests and species in Tasmania. In 2020, Ken was awarded an Order of Australia for his significant service to public administration and to agricultural reform.

Peter Cochrane

Assistant Commissioner

Peter is also a Commissioner of the Independent Planning Commission of NSW since 2017. He was appointed to co-chair the Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review that re-examined zoning of 40 marine reserves proclaimed by the Australian Government. Peter also chairs the National Environmental Science Program’s Marine Biodiversity Hub Steering Committee, a board director at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, chairs the Australian Tropical Herbarium Board, and is a member of the National Marine Facility’s National Benefit Assessment Panel. He has been a Council and Bureau Member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2016. As Director of National Parks and CEO of Parks Australia, Peter oversaw the management and administration of 66 Commonwealth reserves. He was a member of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Review Panel, and a panel member for the review of Geoscience Australia’s Marine Science Program.


Bryce Wilde

BA(Hons), ExecMPA
Executive Director

Bryce started his career working in the private sector as a researcher, facilitator and later as a management consultant of his own business. He has over 20 years experience working in the NSW Government, with the last 13 years at the Natural Resources Commission. For the past seven years, Bryce has been Executive Director leading the Commission’s team to provide robust evidence based advice and thought leadership across diverse areas, including catchment management, forestry, biodiversity conservation, water planning and biosecurity. Prior to joining the Commission, Bryce was a senior manager at the Department of Juvenile Justice, primarily in learning and development.