G’Day USA Champions
To enhance the annual G’Day USA program, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Steven Ciobo, MP have appointed a select number of prominent individuals as G’Day USA Champions. G’Day USA Champions have strong links to both Australia and the United States, and are uniquely positioned to champion G’Day USA in their spheres of influence. Their advice and feedback will also help guide the continued growth of the program and shape the footprint of Australian soft power diplomacy in the United States.
Mr Greg Basser, Chief Executive Officer
Village Roadshow Entertainment Group
Greg Basser is Chief Executive Officer of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, one of the world’s leading independent global feature film entertainment companies. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group consists of Village Roadshow Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures Asia.
Since joining the Village Roadshow Group in 1999, Greg has been instrumental in the growth of the company and its expansion into financing and producing Hollywood films.
Greg started his entertainment career more than 30 years ago as lead legal counsel for VRL in Melbourne, helping to guide its public listing. He was critical in the establishment of the company’s global cinema operations, the Austereo radio network in Australia, and VRL’s theme park operations, in addition to overseeing film production and global legal and business affairs.
In 1997 he was instrumental in the establishment of Village Roadshow Pictures and in 2011 he founded Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, VREG’s Chinese film production division based in Beijing.
Village Roadshow Pictures partners with major studios, co-producing and co-financing films for global release. Since its establishment almost 20 years ago, VRP has released 95 films which have grossed over $16 billion at the global box office including such hits as Sully, Mad Max: Fury Road, American Sniper, The LEGO Movie, Happy Feet I & II, The Ocean’s Series, and The Matrix trilogy. 13 of those films have been produced in Australia including the Matrix Trilogy, Happy Feet, Happy Feet 2, Legends of the Guardians, The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas.
Upcoming releases include King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie; Ocean’s Eight the next instalment in the Ocean’s Series; and Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the popular novel by Ernest Cline.
Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, one of the most prolific foreign producers of Chinese language films, works with Ausfilm, Screen Australia and the Australian Government to promote co-operation between the Chinese and Australian film industries and has recently wrapped Bleeding Steel, the Jackie Chan actioner in Sydney – the largest Chinese film to be produced in Australia to date.
In 2016, Greg was awarded the Qantas Orry-Kelly International Award by Australians in Film for his success in and contribution to the international film industry.
Greg moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and lives in Brentwood with his wife of 34 years, Kiera O’Neill, Otto the labradoodle, and Bruno the Melbourne ginger cat. They have two daughters, Jess, 29, LA managing editor for The Infatuation, and Ellen, 26, a manager for Australian owned Cutler hairdressing group in New York.
Ms Cinzia Burns, Executive Director
Cinzia Burnes was born in Rome, Italy and graduated from the Metastasio Institute of Commerce in Rome with qualifications in Tourism & Commerce in 1982. In the same year Cinzia joined the Italy Australia Association, also in Rome, and by 1983 was heading the travel department.
In 1985 she founded and became Managing Director of the Australian Travel Bureau (ATB) prior to becoming a shareholder and Director of Caleidoscopio SRL, growing the business to become the 2nd largest wholesaler in Italy in 1989.
She was also the driving force behind the foundation of ‘AIDA’, the first travel Industry networking group in Italy as a voice to the ATC, Qantas & STO. Cinzia was appointed Head of Travel at the Italy Australia Association in 1983, just one year after joining the organisation.
From 1991 to 1998, Cinzia was General Manager of The Australian Outback Travel Company (which then became The AOT Group), founded by husband Andrew in 1987. She played a pivotal role over 26 years in growing AOT from a small regional safari operator into one of Australasia’s leading travel distribution businesses with more than 500 staff in 15 locations worldwide with annual revenues in excess of $380 million. The AOT Group was privately owned by Andrew and Cinzia Burnes until its merger with Helloworld Limited in February 2016.
Helloworld Limited is a leading Australian based integrated travel service provider comprising retail travel businesses, destination management services (inbound), wholesale, corporate, government, air ticket consolidation and online operations. Helloworld Limited is publically listed on the Australian stock exchange (ASX: HLO) and has over 1800 staff located in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the USA, South East Asia, India and Europe and has an annual Total Transactional Value (TTV) in excess of $5 billion.
In the merged entity, Cinzia is an Executive Director of Helloworld Limited bringing her extensive sector and management experience to the Board of Directors. In her role as Head of the Wholesale & Inbound, representing over one billion dollars of TTV, Cinzia overseas the requirements for the division including Qantas Holidays, Sunlover Holidays, Viva! Holidays, Territory Discoveries, Insider Journeys, Go Holidays (NZ), AOT Inbound, ATS Pacific and ETA.
Cinzia served on the Board of Tourism Victoria as a Director from 2013 to 2015. She has also served as a Board Member of Health Services Australia (H.S.A) from 2006 to 2008 and as a Director of the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) from 2000 to 2004.
As well as her qualifications in Tourism & Commerce from the Metastasio Institute of Commerce (Rome) Cinzia is also a graduate of the Mt. Eliza Executive Education Business School (Melbourne) in the Advanced Management Program in May 2011 and also the Senior Executive Program Modules 1 & 2 in November 2014.
Executive Director – Helloworld Limited
Head of Wholesale & Inbound – Helloworld Limited
Dr Andrew Liveris, Chairman & CEO
The Dow Chemical Company
Born in Darwin, Andrew N. Liveris is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Dow Chemical Company, a materials, polymers, chemicals and biological sciences enterprise, with 2016 annual sales of nearly $48 billion.
A recognized global business leader with more than 40 years at Dow, Liveris advocates the criticality of manufacturing worldwide. He is the author of Make It in America, which presents a comprehensive set of practical policy solutions and business strategies to achieve the Company’s vision of an ‘Advanced Manufacturing’ economy. Liveris has been tapped to lead President Donald J. Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, which will identify new ways to spur innovation, revitalize the U.S. manufacturing sector and drive economic growth and prosperity.
He sits on the Board of Directors of IBM, is Vice Chair of the Business Roundtable, an Executive Committee Member and Past Chairman of the U.S. Business Council, and a member of the Concordia Leadership Council and the Australian government’s Industry Growth Centres Advisory Committee.
Liveris graduated from the University of Queensland and is Inaugural Chair of The University of Queensland in America Foundation. In 2014, he was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia for services to international business.
Mr Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman is an Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe- and Tony Award-winning performer who has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-hyphenate career persona, as successful on stage in front of live crowds as he is on film. From his award-winning turn on Broadway as the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to his metal claw-wielding Wolverine in the blockbuster “X-Men” franchise, Jackman has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time.
The Australian native made his first major U.S. film appearance as Wolverine in the first installment of the “X-Men” series, a role he reprised in the enormously successful “X2” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” He then starred as the title character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” a prequel to the popular series which grossed an outstanding $85 million domestically in its first weekend of release. Audiences once again went to see Jackman in the popular role in the next chapter titled “The Wolverine,” which grossed over $400 million worldwide. In 2014, Jackman and the X-Men team reunited for “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
Jackman garnered his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, for his performance in Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” based on popular stage show created from Victor’s Hugo famous novel of the same name. Jackman’s standout performance as protagonist Jean Valjean also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, as well as Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations, for both Best Ensemble and Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, and a BAFTA Award nomination.
In 2009, Jackman took on host duties at the 81st Annual Academy Awards, earning an Emmy Award nomination for his work. This wasn’t, however, Jackman’s first foray into awards show hosting. Previously, he served as host of the Tony Awards three years in a row, from 2003 to 2005, earning an Emmy Award for the 2004 ceremony, and an Emmy nomination for his appearance at the 2005 ceremony.
Jackman’s additional film credits include “Prisoners,” Shawn Levy’s “Real Steel,” Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” “Deception,” “Someone Like You,” “Swordfish,” “Van Helsing,” and “Kate and Leopold,” for which he received a 2002 Golden Globe nomination. In addition, he lent his voice to the animated features “Happy Feet,” “Flushed Away” and “Rise of the Guardians.”
On Broadway, Jackman most recently received rave reviews for his performance as The Man in the “The River.” In 2011, he made a splash on the Great White Way in his one-man show, “Hugh Jackman – Back on Broadway.” Backed by an 18-piece orchestra, the revue, which previously opened to rave reviews during its limited engagements in San Francisco and Toronto earlier that year, was comprised of both Broadway hits and a selection of some of his personal favorite standards. Jackman’s continued dedication to the Broadway community was fêted at the 2012 Tony Awards, where he received a Special Award from the Tony Awards Administration Committee, recognizing his accomplishments both as a performer as well as a humanitarian.
In 2009, Broadway audiences could see Jackman in the Keith Huff-penned “A Steady Rain,” in which he starred with Daniel Craig. For his portrayal of the 1970s singer/songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a musical as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards.
His additional theater credits include “Carousel” at Carnegie Hall; “Oklahoma!” at the National Theater in London, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination; “Sunset Boulevard,” for which he garnered Australia’s prestigious ‘MO’ Award; and “Beauty and the Beast,” for which he received a ‘MO’ Award nomination.
Jackman’s career began in Australia in the independent films “Paperback Hero” and “Erskineville Kings.” His performance in the latter earned him an Australian Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award and The Australian Film Institute Best Actor nomination. In 1999, he was named Australian Star of the Year at the Australian Movie Convention.
Mr Peter Lowy, Co-Chief Executive Officer
Peter Lowy is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Westfield Corporation, a global leader in the design, development and operation of iconic retail destinations in major world cities. With assets valued at more than $29 billion, the company has investment interests in a portfolio of 35 shopping centers in the United States and United Kingdom, along with a seminal development site in Milan, Italy. Attracting approximately 400 million customer visits each year, Westfield shopping centers encompass more than 6,500 retail shops across approximately 44 million square feet, and register $16 billion in annual retail sales.
Mr. Lowy has more than 30 years of experience in the shopping center and REIT industry having worked for Westfield since 1983. Prior to joining Westfield, he worked in investment banking both in London and New York. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Mr. Lowy serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Los Angeles County, and is on the RAND Corporation Board of Trustees. Additionally, he is an inaugural member of U.S. Investment Advisory Council (IAC) of the Department of Commerce and a Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy.
Mr Dan Rosen, CEO
Dan Rosen has spent his career at the intersection of the creative industries and technology working in roles as an executive, policy maker, lawyer, and artist. As CEO of ARIA, the peak body for the Australian recorded music industry, he has led the organisation through its transition to digital and global focus, as the ARIA Awards and ARIA Hall of Fame remain the pinnacle of success for Australian artists.
Prior to this role, Dan Rosen was based in New York working at KIT digital, a digital media company he helped take from start-up to NASDAQ listing. Before leaving for the US, he worked as an Advisor to the Federal Minister of Communications and the Arts, and started his career as a lawyer with Minter Ellison, specialising in media and tech clients.
As a musician, Dan won Triple J Unearthed and has toured throughout the US and Australia. He is a passionate voice for the creativity as a Board member of Creative Partnerships Australia, former Chair of the NSW Creative Industries Taskforce and member of the Victorian Government’s Creative Victoria Taskforce. Dan is Fulbright Scholar who completed his Masters of Law at New York University, and holds undergraduate degrees in Law with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University.
Mr Ian Thorpe OAM
AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST OLYMPIAN Ian Thorpe is without doubt, one of the most successful sportspeople Australia has ever produced. Ian’s accomplishments are nothing short of amazing:
In the Pool
• 9 Olympic medals
• 11 World Championship titles
• 10 Commonwealth Games medals
• 22 broken World Records
• 9 Pan Pacific Games titles
Out of the Pool
• Awarded an OAM for services to sport
• Winner of the Australian Sports Medal
• Young Australian of the Year in 2000
• World Swimmer of the Year on four occasions
• Received the Human Rights Medal in 2012 for his work fighting for better services for Indigenous children in remote communities
• Honorary Doctorates from the University of Western Sydney and Macquarie University
• During the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ian hosted one of the world’s largest broadcasts in India and appeared on Fox Sports in Australia
• Hosted the critically acclaimed ABC documentary series ‘Bullied’ which sparked conversation around the country, resulting in the ABC’s biggest ever social media event
• Various media commentary commitments and contributions with Network 7, TEN, the BBC, the ABC, Vogue, SBS and the Huffington Post
• Ambassador for the Invictus Games, hosted by Prince Harry and a Patron for the charity, Reachout – which helps young people through tough times
• Ambassadorial roles with Lifeline and AIME
• A long-term partnership with Optus, supporting swimmers from learn to swim to the elite level and acts as an Ambassador for Optus
• Ian has relationships with Optus, adidas and Star Casino
The Hon John Olsen AO
Mr Olsen is Chairman of the Adelaide Oval Stadium Authority, Chairman of the South Australian National Football League, Chairman of the American Australian Association Ltd, Chairman of the Perth US Asia Centre at The University of Western Australia and board member of the United States Studies Centre at The University of Sydney.
Mr Olsen spent almost 7 years in the United States, as Consul-General in New York (2006-2009), and as Consul-General in Los Angeles (2002-2006). Prior to his diplomatic postings, he was Premier of South Australia (1996-2001), capping a long and distinguished career in the political arena, including a period as Senator for South Australia (1990-1992).
Mr Olsen pioneered G’Day USA in 2004, a week-long programme showcasing the best of Australia. The programme expanded to New York in 2007 and has become the largest single annual foreign country promotion in the United States.
Mr Olsen was instrumental in the establishment of the United States Asia Centre in Perth as announced by Hillary Clinton, Former US Secretary of State.
He was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2007 for his outstanding contributions to the South Australian Parliament.
Ms Rachel Griffiths
One of Australia’s most prolific thespians, Rachel Griffiths is also an Academy Award Nominated and multi-award winning actress. After a successful career on the Australian stage, Rachel Griffiths burst onto the international scene in 1994 with P.J. Hogan’s much loved feature film MURIEL’S WEDDING. Her film credits since then include MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING alongside Julia Roberts, THE ROOKIE, THE HARD WORD with Guy Pearce, BLOW, STEP UP, BURNING MAN, NED KELLY, PATRICK, SAVING MR BANKS with Tom Hanks, BEAUTIFUL KATE and HILARY & JACKIE, a performance which earned her an Academy Award Nomination. Her last film, MAMMAL, premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2016.
In television, Rachel earned a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Brenda in the critically acclaimed and long running HBO series SIX FEET UNDER. She also received an Emmy Award Nomination for her role in fellow US series BROTHERS & SISTERS.
Other television credits include the HBO/NBC CoPro CAMP and the Julian Assange biopic UNDERGROUND, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Other television credits include MAG WARS and DEADLINE GALLIPOLI for Foxtel alongside Sam Worthington, Hugh Dancy and Charles Dance. Her latest television credit is alongside Guy Pearce in ABC’s WHEN WE RISE which aired in early 2017.
The Hon Bruce Baird AM, Former Chairman
The Tourism and Transport Forum
Bruce Baird comes with a background in business, politics and tourism. He started his working career as a Qantas trainee while studying for a BA degree at Sydney University and subsequently progressed into marketing and staff training at Qantas. He later joined an Australian mining company, and became Organisation Development Manager, and during this time, completed and MBA at the University of Melbourne.
He was appointed Australian Trade Commissioner and worked in both Germany and New York in that role. He subsequently was employed as Government Affairs Manager at Esso, before entering the NSW Parliament. Following a period in opposition, managing various shadow portfolios, a change of government saw him appointed Minister for Transport and later, Minister for Sydney’s successful Olympic bid.
Following this, he became CEO of the Tourism Council of Australia, and then later entered the Australian Parliament, where he chaired several key committees including the Economics and Trade committees.
Upon leaving Parliament, he became Chairman of the Tourism and Transport Forum, and a board member of a number of Not for Profit organisations.
He was appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 2010 and was granted honorary doctorates from the University of Newcastle, and the University of Technology, Sydney.
Bruce is married and has three children: Michael is the former Premier of NSW, Julia is host of the TV current affairs show “The Drum” on the ABC, and Steve is one of the marketing managers of a leading Australian Airline.
Mr Robert Thomson, Chief Executive
Since 2013, Robert Thomson has been chief executive of News Corp, a global, diversified media and information services company that is home to Dow Jones & Company, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, The Times and The Sunday Times of London, The Australian and Fox Sports Australia, HarperCollins Publishers, and Move, Inc., operator of realtor.com®, among other businesses.
From 2008, Mr. Thomson served as editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of the Journal. Previously, he was editor of The Times and held several posts at the Financial Times. He began his career in journalism as a copyboy at The Herald in Melbourne in 1979, and also worked at the Sydney Morning Herald.
A native of Torrumbarry, Australia, Mr. Thomson is the author and editor of several books, and in 2014 he was inducted into the Melbourne Press Club’s Media Hall of Fame.