The AuSPICA staff are well qualified and experienced in seed potato certification. AuSPICA has certification officers in Ballarat, Otways/Colac, Gippsland, Portland, Kangaroo Island and mainland South Australia.

AuSPICA staff are continually learning and developing new skills to better service industry and keep pace with new technology. AuSPICA fosters a team environment for excellence and quality service.


Barry Strahan

Ballarat and Otways regions



Gippsland region

Michelle Wilson

Mt Gambier, Mallee regions

Pam Hacker

Kangaroo Island region

AuSPICA Board of Directors

AuSPICA has a board of directors with an independent chair.

Kay Spierings Independent Chair

Kay is a primary producer with an interest in rural and environmental issues. She has extensive business management and corporate administration experience with specific focus on strategic planning, national competition policy, organisational governance, policy formulation and business and financial management and administration. She holds a Business degree with a major in Accounting, is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Qualifications: BBus(Acc), CPA, GAICD

Ben Dowling A seed grower Board member (Deputy Chair)

Ben operates a seed potato business in the Mt Gambier region of South Australia. He has hands on experience in all aspects of seed potato production from tissue culture, minitubers, to certified seed. Ben is involved in potato variety improvement from variety selection and import, through replicated small plot trials to bulk plantings. Ben strongly believes in the benefits of quality seed, seed certification, and the application of good science and technology for progressing the potato industry.

Qualifications: BAppSc (Applied Biology)

Wayne Tymensen A seed grower Board member.

A progressive crisping and certified seed Potato grower. Wayne is a second-generation potato grower based at Cora Lynn in a district known as the Koo Wee Rup swamp. His business has vertically expanded to include a certified seed production business in the Otway’s. Wayne is enthusiastic and passionate about the potato industry; he has an excellent track record to provide sound practical advice and clearly communicate to all. Wayne is involved in several local community groups. He is dedicated and hardworking in all he does and gets involved in all he can.

Ken Labbett A seed grower Board member

A Certified seed grower at Ballarat, Ken has had a long history with his involvement in on-farm research trials on new cultivars and disease management. Ken is an industry leader through his previous involvement in many committees including SPV, HAL Industry Advisory Committee and many others.

Sam Montano. A seed grower Board member

Sam Montano is a fourth generation farmer and passionate seed potato grower. Sam aims to ensure that the AuSPICA seed potato scheme is at the highest possible standard in Australia and has aspirations to develop plans for future disease incursions to ensure minimal impact to the industry if these issues do arise. Sam has experience with various community organisations including holding the presidency role for the Dean and Newlyn Young Farmers Association for several years.

Liz Mann A skills-based Board member

Liz has over 25 years’ experience working in Industry based organisations. More recently this included 20 years as Industry Development Manager/Executive Officer with the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council Inc. Liz has worked as an Executive Officer for the Maize Association of Australia and on a contract basis for a number of organisations in a range of roles including but not limited to project management, board membership, agricultural expert witness farm financial management, quality assurance, plant breeding and agronomy. From 2010 to 2019 Liz also managed approximately $60M of funding under the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program which is funded through the Australian Government's Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program. Liz also has her own irrigation property in Northern Victoria and owns and operates a registered Poll Dorset Stud, Glenelm Poll Dorset Stud, which was established in 1959 by her father.

Qualifications: BAgrSc (Hons) GDipAgr (Management and Extension), GAICD

Chris Willis A skills-based Board member

Chris is a senior manager with a major Australian agribusiness retailer and a big part of his tenue he has overseen the seed potatoes portfolio. Chris brings both commercial and agronomy knowledge from broadacre to horticultural crops grown across Australia. He has experience across a number of seed production systems from open pollinated to hybrid seed. From a family farming background, he is passionate about agriculture and strives to ensure it continually improves so that it can be profitable now and for future generations.

Qualifications: BAgrSc (Hons) and MBA

Charlie Martel A skills-based Board member

Charlie has been a corporate and commercial solicitor for over 20 years, prior to which he worked on his family's sheep and wheat property in the Central West of NSW.  Having a passion for agriculture, for the most part of Charlie's legal career, he has focussed on advising clients in the agribusiness sector.  Charlie also advises clients engaged in energy and resources, hospitality and gaming, aviation and property.  Charlie was a partner at CridlandsMB, at the time the largest law firm in the Northern Territory, before moving to Victoria in 2012.  Charlie continues to provide legal services to his clients in the Northern Territory as well as operating a beef cattle enterprise in West Gippsland with his young family.

Qualifications: BEcon and LLB

Jonathan Eccles. A skills-based Board member

Jonathan Eccles has over 40 years’ experience with Australian horticultural industries, with many of those years in the potato industry. Mr Eccles was previously the chair of the NSW Seed Potato Certification Seed Committee where he worked on the certification standards and procedures; it was during this time that Jonathan started the publication Potatoes Australia. Mr Eccles has over 13 years’ experience in managing the potato industry’s national research and development program with Horticultural Research & Development Corporation and Horticulture Australia (now Hort Innovation).
For the last 2 years, he has managed the Agricultural and Horticultural Business Services in Greater Sydney Local Land Services. He has also been a director of Protected Cropping Australia Limited which is Australia’s peak industry organisation for hydroponic and greenhouse industries.

Qualifications: B Sc Agriculture


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