Board of Directors

China Matters is an independent organisation that strives to advance sound China policy. We are unique in Australia. We engage business executives, public servants, politicians, and university leaders about challenging policy choices in the Australia-China relationship. We generate public debate about Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which aims to inject nuance and realism into discussions. On the basis of solid China expertise and Chinese-language sources, we research problematic policy issues with the goal of formulating recommendations and providing analysis on how these policy challenges are viewed in Beijing.

China Matters does not have an institutional view.

Board of Directors

  • Stephen FitzGerald

    Stephen FitzGerald AO

    Board of Directors

    Stephen FitzGerald began his professional career as a diplomat, studied Chinese and became a career China specialist. He was China adviser to Gough Whitlam, and Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and concurrently to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In 1980 he established the first private consultancy for Australians dealing with China, which continued until 2010. Since the late 1960s, Professor FitzGerald has worked for policy reform in Australia’s relations with Asia, and for Asia Literacy for Australians. He chaired the 1980s committee of the Asian Studies Association of Australia on Asian Studies and Languages in Australian Education, and the government’s Asian Studies Council, which in 1988 wrote A National Strategy for the Study of Asia in Australia. In the same year, he chaired the government’s Committee to Advise on Australia’s Immigration Policies, which wrote the landmark report, Immigration. A Commitment to Australia. He was head of the ANU’s Department of Far Eastern History and also of its Contemporary China Centre in the 1970s. In 1990 he founded and until 2005 chaired the UNSW’s Asia-Australia Institute, dedicated to making Australia part of the Asian region through think-tank activities and ideas-generation by regional leaders meeting in informal discussion.


    Professor FitzGerald has been consultant to the Queensland and Northern Territory governments on the introduction of Asian languages to the school curriculum, consultant to Monash, Melbourne and Griffith universities on mainstreaming Asia in university studies, Chair of the Griffith Asia Institute, and Research Strategy Director of UTS’s China Research Centre. He is currently a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and a Honorary Fellow at the China Studies Centre at Sydney University. He has also been awarded two Honorary Doctorates from Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania.


    He has published monographs, reports and articles on China, Asia, Australia’s foreign policy and relations with China and Asia, Asia literacy, and the study of Asia and Asian languages in Australian schools and universities. His most recent publications are Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing EnvoyThe Coup that Laid the Fear of China, and Australia and China at Forty: Stretch of the Imagination. His current research is on the evolution of Australia’s policies and attitudes towards Asia from the 1960s to the present.


    Professor FitzGerald was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in January 1984 in recognition of his services to international relations. On 16 March 2017 Professor FitzGerald delivered the Whitlam Oration at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University.

  • Allan Gyngell

    Allan Gyngell AO

    Board of Directors

    Allan Gyngell is an honorary professor at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Asia and the Pacific, Director of the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, and National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA). He was the Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) from July 2009 until April 2013 and, prior to that, the founding Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy (2003-09). Professor Gyngell has a wide background in international policymaking and analysis and has written and spoken extensively on Australian foreign policy, Asian regional relations and the development of global and regional institutions. Between 1993 and 1996, he was foreign policy adviser in the office of then-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, and from 1991 until 1993 was First Assistant Secretary in the International Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Professor Gyngell also spent a number of years as an analyst with ONA, where he worked on Southeast Asian issues (1978-80) and headed the branch dealing with great power relations at the end of the Cold War (1984-89).


    Professor Gyngell was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2009 for services to international relations. He was named a Fellow of the AIIA in 2010. He is co-author (with Michael Wesley) of Making Australian Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press). He is also author of Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World since 1942 (La Trobe University Press, April 2017).

  • Peter Hendy

    The Hon Dr Peter Hendy

    Board of Directors

    The Hon Dr Peter Hendy presently runs his own economic consultancy and is a company director.  He is also currently a commissioner at the Commonwealth Grants Commission.  Dr Hendy was previously the Member for Eden-Monaro in the Federal Parliament, and during this time was Assistant Minister for Finance, Assistant Minister for Productivity, and Assistant Cabinet Secretary.


    Immediately prior to entering Parliament he was the Principal Advisor (Foreign Affairs and Trade) for the Hon Julie Bishop MP.  He was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is a former chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (Australia) and vice president designate of the Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Executive Director of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and has represented business at the OECD.


    Dr Hendy has also served as the Chief Economist in the Prime Minister’s Office.  In the past he has been chief of staff of the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Education.  He started his career in the Australian Treasury.  In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to Australian society in business leadership.  He is the author of the books Captains of Industry (MUP, 2008) and Why Australia Slept: Why Australia Is in Danger of Sleepwalking Into the Future (CCP, 2018).

  • Linda Jakobson (Deputy Chair)

    Linda Jakobson

    Board of Directors

    Linda Jakobson is Founding Director and Deputy Chair of China Matters. She has lived and worked in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for 22 years. Her last job before moving to Sydney in 2011 was the Beijing-based director of the Program for China and Global Security for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Prior to founding China Matters in 2015 she served as director of the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy; and as a visiting professor at the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University.


    She has been a student of Chinese politics and the foreign and security policy of the PRC for the past 35 years. She is internationally known for her publications about the PRC’s foreign policy, in particular those about new foreign policy actors; cross-Strait relations, and the PRC’s Arctic ambitions. Ms Jakobson, a Mandarin speaker, is the author of five books about the PRC and East Asia. She has served as a policy advisor on China to governments in seven countries.


    Ms Jakobson, a Finn by nationality and an Australian permanent resident, currently divides her time between Sydney and Helsinki, where she is a Senior Advisor at the China Office of Finnish Industry.

  • Kevin McCann (Chair)

    Kevin McCann AO

    Board of Directors (Chair)

    Kevin McCann is the Chair of the China Matters Board. He is also Chairman of Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited and the Smith Family Centenary Council. He is a member of the Male Champions of Change, a Presiding Pro Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Co-Vice Chair of the New Colombo Plan Reference Group, a Director of the US Studies Centre and Evans and Partners Advisory Board, a member of the board for the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, a Governor of Queenwood School for Girls and the Advisory Committee Australian Equities Flagship Fund (sponsored by Evans Dixon). He is a former Chairman of Macquarie Group Limited and Macquarie Bank Limited, Origin Energy Limited, Healthscope Limited and ING Management Limited, Fellow of the University of Sydney and former Chair of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and the National Library of Australia Foundation. Mr McCann practised in Commercial Law as a Partner of Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens) from 1970 to 2004 and was Chairman of Partners from 1995 to 2004.


    Mr McCann was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Law, Business and the Community in 2005. He was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2020 for distinguished service to business, to corporate governance, and as an advocate for gender equity.


    He has a Bachelor of Arts and Law (Honours) from Sydney University and a Master of Law from Harvard University.

  • Andrew Parker

    Andrew Parker

    Board of Directors

    Andrew Parker is

    He was previously a Sydney-based Partner at PwC where he led the Australian firm’s Asia Practice. Mr Parker joined Price Waterhouse in 1985, became a partner in 1999 and spent 12 years in PwC’s London, Moscow and Jakarta offices where he gained considerable experience advising companies investing in foreign (and particularly developing) markets. Mr Parker was previously the leader of PwC’s Asian telecoms industry team. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Asia Society and a non-executive director of the Australia Indonesia Centre at Monash University. Mr Parker was the lead author of PwC’s landmark report on Australia’s lack of business investment in Asia titled ‘Passing us by’.

  • Heather Smith

    Heather Smith PSM

    Board of Directors

    Dr Heather Smith served as Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science from 2017 – 2020 and is currently the Deputy Chair of the US Studies Centre Board of Directors. Dr Smith has had 20 years’ experience in the Australian Public Service at senior levels covering economic, foreign affairs and intelligence matters. She has previously served as Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts, Deputy Secretary in the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Foreign Affairs and Trade, and as Deputy Director-General of the Office of National Assessments. She has also held positions in the Australian Treasury and Reserve Bank. She was a G20 Sherpa in 2014 during Australia’s Presidency and was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday 2015 Honours for her service in this role. Before joining the public service Heather was an academic working on North Asia at the Australian National University.


    She holds a Bachelor of Economics (First Class Honours) from the University of Queensland and a Masters and PhD in Economics from the Australian National University.


  • Michael Wesley

    Michael Wesley

    Board of Directors

    Professor Michael Wesley is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Melbourne. Previously he was Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University; Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy; Director of the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University; and Assistant Director-General for Transnational Issues at the Office of National Assessments, the Australian government’s peak intelligence agency. His research interests include Australian foreign policy, security dynamics in Asia and the Pacific, and the politics of statebuilding interventions. His 2011 book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia won the John Button Prize for the best writing on Australian politics and public policy.


    Professor Wesley holds a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Queensland and a PhD from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.