Honorary Life Membership Award - History

Tracy Berger

Quoted from Tracy's speech at EcoForum 2018: "I’d like to thank ALGA for providing the opportunity for recognition in the form of these industry awards, and to say congratulations and well done to everyone who was nominated. Also a big thanks to the QLD Committee for nominating me. I was in Canada when our QLD chair, Louise Cartwright, emailed me about the nomination. I hadn’t checked my emails much while I was travelling and figured by the time I got back to her they’d have come to their senses, but no, they submitted all the same, and I am most grateful for that.

All in all this is pretty humbling for someone who ended up in this business by accident. When I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Calgary – more than 30 years ago - there weren’t many jobs around in what I had originally been trained for, which was petroleum exploration. I found myself in California where this shiny, new contaminated land industry was just getting started and they were looking for anyone with an earth sciences degree. And the rest, as they say, is history; interestingly I did end up spending a lot of my career looking for petroleum, just not in the way I had originally thought. So I want to also thank – and perhaps extend my sympathies to –my first boss and my first supervisor: Jean Kulla and Ed Stewart at McLaren Environmental Engineering in California. And to Rod Harwood and Peter Mirkov - thanks for taking the chance on me at Groundwater Technology Australia 23 years ago. And of course, I would never have ended up here at all if I hadn’t met my Australian husband Gavin while we were both working in Hong Kong.

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities offered here, to have worked on so many different projects, and to have worked with, and learned from, so many amazing people over the past 30-odd years. I have only ever wanted to make a difference- so I guess getting an award from the leading industry body for my contribution to that industry is a fairly compelling line of evidence for that. To me the most important difference I could have made is to the environment and to the people I worked with. So being recognised as someone who simply tried to do what they said they were going to do, to the best of their ability, who strived to be fair and to treat people right, is surely the highest accolade anyone could want. Thanks again.

PS: even though I retired from paid work over 5 years ago, I’ve tried to maintain ties with this industry. Part of that is for social reasons – keeping up with the friends I’ve made and all the goss. But it’s also a continuation of me wanting to make a difference if I can. And since I have all this time on my hands….. It’s been important to me to try and give back to an industry that has given me my livelihood, however accidental, and I’ve done that through my involvement with ALGA – as a member of the QLD Committee, the Board, special interest groups, and through attending and participating in our monthly forums. So I’m here to say that my experience has been that the more you contribute, the more you get in return for that contribution."

In 2016 We Had 2 Members Awarded Honorary Life Membership:

Dr John Hunt for his outstanding support of ALGA as Vice President and President (2010 – 2014), SuRF ANZ Committee Member, Sydney Branch Committee Chair and EcoForum Program Committee Chair.

John has a BSc (Hons) in geology and did his honours at UNSW in 1975 in stratigraphy and palaeontology. He turned down an opportunity to do a PhD in palaeontology to become an environmental planner, then handyman (in the mining bust), then coal researcher with CSIRO, while undertaking a part- time PhD in coal geology at Macquarie University, and then a petroleum geologist with Delhi Petroleum in Adelaide and Esso Australia in Sydney. Eventually Esso moved from Sydney and Ihestayed for family reasons spending a year as a trainee bush regenerator, before starting with Groundwater Technology Australia in 1992. Several contemporaries from his undergraduate days at UNSW had gravitated there including Rod Hardwood who was the first MD, Lionel Etheridge, Malcolm Dale and later John Ross. From there he joined ADI Limited where he was involved in assessment and remediation of several former defence sites in NSW and Victoria as well as external work, and was introduced to thermal remediation. When ADI was purchased by Thales and the environment business shut down, he joined Thiess Services who ADI was working with on the Mortlake gasworks remediation project. He was with Thiess Services for 15 years, becoming its Tender Manager, Technology Manager and Remediation Manager. In that time he was involved in remediation of sites such as the Rhodes Peninsula and Homebush Bay, the Platypus, Macdonaldtown, Newstead and Highett Gasworks, The Penny Bay Shipyard in Hong Kong, and the Hunter River Remediation. When Thiess was sold by CIMIC into a 50:50 JV with Apollo Funds Management and renamed Ventia, he joined a head office consulting group of CIMIC (formerly Leighton Holdings) called EIC Activities as Principal Contamination and Remediation. He has now re-joined Ventia and retired to a 3 days a week positon, while still servicing EIC Activities. The other two days are taken up with grandchildren, handyman projects, bush regeneration and the odd bike ride.

Quoted from John’s speech at EcoForum 2016: “My thanks and appreciation to the Australasian Land & Groundwater Association for the honour and recognition given to me in making me an Honorary Life Member. It has been an exciting time to be involved with ALGA, given its rapid growth and enthusiastic take up by many sectors of the contamination assessment and remediation industry. I spent several years on the NSW committee, learned the art of conference organisation from Peter Nadebaum and David Bates, was Vice President assisting Tony Scott as President, and was then President ably assisted by Jon Miller as Chair and Stephan Pawelczyk as Vice President. In all that time I was always
surprised by the willingness of the Association’s members who allowed their arms to be twisted when it came to making contributions to ALGA’s activities. For those with the time and interest, getting involved in the Association’s business, such as organising state forums, organising EcoForum, contributing to the CRONICLE, or assisting in advocacy matters, can be personally and professionally rewarding.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Thiess Services (now Ventia) my employers at the time, who gave me the time to get involved and made a conscious and generous decision to give something back into the industry. To Elisabethe and the ALGA management team, my thanks for your professional and ongoing support in managing the data to day operations of the Association, and your diplomatic counsel when we strayed from the true path.

What about the vest I hear you asking? Well my wife Mary said that putting things in my trouser pockets was not a good look, so I needed something with lots of pockets to put things in and a fishing vest fitted the bill.

Finally I wish the Association every success in the future and may it go from strength to strength. If I had one piece of advice to give it would be that ALGA will go further by adopting a collaborative position with other industry players and leveraging of shared interests for the benefit of all.”"


Jon Miller for his outstanding support of ALGA as Treasure to Chairman of the Board (2010 – 2015), along with inaugural chair of the VIGGIM Committee.

Jon’s career has spanned such diverse industries as: Education, having taught in secondary schools in Lakes Entrance in Victoria and Fowey in the UK as well as at William Agliss TAFE, Tourism and Hospitality having run a pub in Oxford and been General Manager of hotels/resorts in remote locations at Albury NSW, Ross River Homestead in Central Australia and The Strahan Village on the west coast of Tasmania, as well as a diverse leisure business in the UK; Geodemographic Segmentation and Databased Marketing (it’s a long story) in Melďourne and Nottingham UK; and Environmental Remediation starting with Acqua selling oil/water separation technology before forming The Remediation Group in 2005 with Daniel Egan where he is currently Managing Director, doing a one year secondment to start up a biochar business in Gosford, and most recently adding a directorship of WJ Groundwater (Aust) a UK based company specialising in dewatering.

Steep learning curves have been the norm as he moved from one industry to another supported by formal education that has included a Bachelor of Education (Science), Diploma of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Diploma from the British Wine and Spirit Education Trust, Graduate Diploma of Business (Tourism), and the Company Directors Course. I put my hand up to be on the board of ALGA in 2009 and subsequently became Treasurer and later took on the role of Chair when John Hunt and Stephan Pawelczyk were President.

He had a particular interest in improving the governance of ALGA and played a significant role in ALGA’s transition to a company limited by guarantee, the establishment of Board sub committees, writing of the Board Charter and other governance documents, establishing the strategic plan, establishing an organisational structure with employees instead of contractors, initiating the Tasmania and Darwin branches, and more recently established the Interest Group called Vapour & Gas.

Quoted from Jon’s speech at EcoForum 2016: “There is a fine tradition at ALGA Annual Dinners not to include speeches where possible and to keep them brief where necessary. This keeps the focus on the important conversations going on around the room and avoids the awkward possibility of needing to tell delegates to quiet down or those giving the speech to get off.

It also relieves those who win awards without prior warning from having to think of something to say in a hurry. Had I been forewarned and been asked to speak I would have liked to have said the following: I am delighted to have been awarded an Honorary Life Membership of ALGA and would like to thank the people who nominated me and the Board for accepting my nomination.

All voluntary contributions to ALGA come at a cost of personal time and corporate financial support in some form or another which explains why employees typically need to gain permission to volunteer their paid time. In my case as a co-owner of The Remediation Group there are two people who need to be acknowledged. The first is my business partner Daniel Egan who has never, in the many years that I have been actively involved in ALGA, questioned the time I have spent. So thanks Dan for your support. The other is my wife Denise, who, unlike Dan, has questioned every hour that I have spent on ALGA matters! But then she has been putting the lion or perhaps lioness’ share of the bread on the Miller household table over this time. I would point her out for acknowledgement but as is fitting, she is not here tonight. Instead she is currently busy working in another part of the world in a different time zone. Nevertheless, for whatever I have done to contribute to the governance and activities of ALGA that qualifies me for this award, the organisation owes her a debt of gratitude, so on ALGA’s behalf I say, “Thanks Denise”.

While contributing to ALGA comes at a cost, it also comes with great reward in the form of a sense of satisfaction. Contributing to something that I feel passionate about has been its own reward. I would therefore encourage anybody here who has a bee in their bonnet about something to find a way to make a contribution be it via a branch committee, conference organising committee, a presentation, the Board, a Special Interest Group, an article in the CRONICLE or a good old rant on the Soap Box.

What makes ALGA so successful is the breadth of opportunities for members to contribute and to have their voice heard. These opportunities would not exist without the extraordinary organising capacity of our CEO in Elisabethe and her team whom she is always quick to acknowledge. It has been and continues to be a joy to discuss ideas and see them translate into action via Elisabethe and her team. So thank you Elisabethe for your achievements.

To my fellow Honorary Life Membership recipient John Hunt, this acknowledgment of your towering technical contribution to ALGA is long overdue, but what I would like to acknowledge is your passion for the welfare of the greater industry, something that I have had the privilege to experience close up. Congratulations to you for the positive impact you have had on the environment you care so much about and the people you continue to guide along their way. And finally, thank you to those still listening and have a great night.


In 2013 Dr Peter Nadebaum was awarded the first "Honorary Life Membership" for his outstanding support of ALGA in varying roles as inaugural President, Chair and Board Member between 2007-2012).

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