Meet the Climate Hub Advisory Panel: Chris Porter



Chris has more than 13 years’ experience in engineering and management and is currently the General Manager of Premise Mackay and Whitsundays division. His team delivers to both public sector and infrastructure clients, working on everything from airports to water treatments, and road design and assessment. He has managed many Premise projects, including the Cannonvale Bulk Water Supply for Whitsunday Regional Council. Chris also sits on the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Mackay Whitsunday Branch Committee.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you end up in the Mackay/Whitsunday area?

I grew up in Strathdickie, near Proserpine, and went to university in Rockhampton after deciding to study engineering. I was always interested in the built form and considered undertaking a trade before changing to engineering. I did a brief stint overseas in the UK but I returned to the area and lived in Airlie Beach for a while before moving to Mackay. The Whitsundays is a great place to be an engineer – it is very diverse technically, which makes my job more interesting and there are plenty of opportunities for a young engineer.

What is your current role, and what are some recent projects you have worked on?

I am Regional Manager for North QLD and Pacific for the engineering consultancy firm, Premise. I work primarily in the Mackay / Whitsunday area, but have the opportunity to get involved in projects in North Queensland and PNG. At Premise, I spend nearly half my time undertaking engineering and technical work, which means I am closely involved in many projects which happen in this area. A recent example is providing the feasibility report on the Airlie Beach Bulk Pipeline project, currently being delivered by Whitsunday Regional Council. We also do a lot of work with local developers in the Airlie Beach area and as well as road design with the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

You are on the local branch committee of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA). What kind of work does the UDIA do in the Whitsundays?

We are the peak body for the development industry in Queensland, which is the sixth biggest employer in the region. We advocate for all of our members. Our local UDIA branch is currently doing a lot of COVID-19 policy work to ensure our Whitsunday region bounces back as quickly as possible. We also provide feedback and advice on various policies impacting on the development industry, town planning issues and engineering standards by local organisations such as the Whitsunday Regional Council.

How do you see your work contributing to the Climate Innovation Hub?

With the frequency and severity of natural disasters on the rise, we as a community need to be more aware of the impacts caused by climate change and take steps to improve resilience across the region. It is important that the expertise provided by climate researchers at the Hub leads back to practical policy and physical infrastructure solutions – which is where I can provide input.

How do you think the Climate Innovation Hub can benefit the Whitsunday region?

The Hub can provide a new level of service and real-world solutions to the impacts of climate change on our region. We are seeing a greater emphasis placed on coastal engineering and flooding which often results in costly builds and the introduction of critical infrastructure such as seawalls and levees. Sometimes the solution needs to be hard infrastructure, and this is what is expected by the community, but there are other alternatives. The Hub can play an important role here in understanding the broader issues around climate change, identify innovative solutions that meet the needs of residents, and help communicate these issues to the affected communities.