Board Members

Lee Blackburn, Chair / Member Director

Lee is an experienced company director with a long-term association with the sugar industry and irrigation in Eton. He is a director on the boards of Mackay Sugar Limited, Mackay Area Productivity Services and Queensland Commodity Services (QCS). From 2003 to 2010, he served as a board member on the Canegrowers Area Committee Mackay and was a member of the Sunwater Advisory Committee for the Eton scheme.

 Lee has built strong networks and gained extensive knowledge in the irrigation sector and was involved with the implementation of the Resource Operational Plan, which secured a sustainable irrigation source for the Mackay region. He has managed his irrigation property in Eton since 1993. A strong advocate for Eton water users, he is the current Treasurer of the Kinchant Dam Water Users Association and has held various officer bearer positions since 2011.

John Muscat, Member Director

John has been a successful Eton grower and businessman over the past 45 years, building a vast knowledge of all aspects of the irrigation industry and strong relationships with water users. An active representative of growers in local and state forums, John has been a member of the Eton Irrigation Advisory Committee since its inception, serving 14 years as chairman.

He is currently vice chairman of the Kinchant Dam Water Users Association Incorporated. An operator during the construction stage of the Eton scheme, he represented the scheme in consultations over the first and subsequent price paths. John was a director on the Stage 2 Eton LMA Board.

John Palmer, Independent Director

A civil engineer, John has held senior management positions within
government and statutory authorities for more than 40 years with a primary focus on the water industry. As the inaugural manager of the Pioneer Valley Water Board he gained extensive experience in the establishment of administration, financial and engineering systems for governance of locally managed schemes. During his time at Pioneer Valley Water Board since 1997 has demonstrated his ability to develop and maintain effective working relationship with customers and stakeholder groups.

A former area manager for the Department of Natural Resources, he has extensive experience in planning construction and operation of irrigation infrastructure. A strong advocate for locally-based decision making, John was involved in Stage 1 and was a director on the Stage 2 Eton LMA Board.

Andrew Vassallo, Member Director

Andrew is a third-generation farmer and has been farming sugarcane and cattle in the Brightley area for 35 years. Throughout this time, he has built strong networks and gained extensive knowledge of the irrigation sector.  Andrew has a Diploma in Agriculture and his commitment to adopting best management practices is reinforced by his Canegrower BMP accreditation.

Since 2018, Andrew has served as a Board Member of  Kinchant Dam Water Users Association Inc and was involved in discussions with Sunwater and local government organisations leading to Eton Irrigation taking over ownership and management of the scheme on 31st March 2020.

Andrew has held various office bearer positions throughout the community and is currently Treasurer and Fire Officer of the Eton Rural Fire Brigade.

Tom Wallwork, Independent Director

Tom is a civil engineer who has held senior management positions in Queensland water organisations for more than 30 years. He has extensive experience leading and managing staff in the planning, design, construction, operation and management of irrigation schemes and, as a former senior manager with Sunwater, Tom has direct experience managing water supply schemes in the Burdekin and Eton.

He also has skills in the management and negotiation of bulk water supply contracts and practical skills in commercial business case development. His early career with government organisations has provided a detailed understanding of the Water Act as it applies to irrigation and water supply schemes in Queensland.

Eton Irrigation, productive and sustainably into the future.

“This scheme is a cooperative owned by local canegrowers, giving them control of the distribution of 51,900 megalitres to share among 300 irrigators.”