speech Launch of the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University
Executive Vice President Upstream
Good morning. Thank you for that kind introduction.
On behalf of the Chevron workforce, it’s great to be back in Perth to talk about the late Dr Harry Butler’s special relationship with Chevron.
And importantly, I think it’s how we’re ensuring his passion and dedication to environmental protection will be continued for generations to come.
There is no replacing Harry Butler, but what we can do to honour him is to replicate the passion, the dedication, the values that he taught so many of us as we move into the future.
I had the pleasure of working with Harry during my tenure as Managing Director for Chevron Australia from 2003 to 2008.
Harry’s history goes right back to the start, accompanying a team searching for oil onto Barrow Island in the early 1960s.
That was the start of a remarkable partnership between Harry and Chevron.
For the next five decades Harry helped shape and maintain environmental management practices to help protect Barrow Island.
Harry’s work laid the foundation for the systems we have in place today – such as our strict quarantine management system – recognised as a best practice both locally and globally.
But I think Harry’s influence on Chevron was far greater than excellent systems and processes.
Because it was Harry’s passion for the environment that was infectious.
Given the number of people on Barrow Island, how do you get so many people to care because you can’t manage this just through compliance. People have to want to participate and take an active role in the protection.
When I arrived, Harry had been an advisor to Chevron for a long time, and he quickly became a trusted – and forthright – advisor and mentor to me.
We spent a lot of time together in the office, but more importantly, in the field at Barrow Island and walking in the Tuart Forrest, near his place down south. When you get an opportunity to see the environment through Harry’s eyes, you see a richer world around you.
There are two Barrow Islands:
The one you saw when you went there with Harry, and the one you saw when you go up there and look through your own eyes.
Our time together established a relationship that turned into a life-long friendship. What I learned from Harry will stay with me forever.
Harry believed that ecosystems include humans and he believed in educating people on their role in protecting that ecosystem. You can’t just exclude humans from the environment – we’re a part of it. As a result, he unlocked the power of working with businesses to protect biodiversity – and found a dedicated partner in Chevron and its employees.
Harry had a great ability to inspire, encourage and challenge people – no matter what their role, age, ability or background.
Harry became a household name in Australia, with his “In the Wild with Harry Butler” TV series bringing the Australian outback into millions of living rooms – including segments shot on Barrow Island itself.
On Barrow Island, Harry instilled a sense of ownership and responsibility for the environment with everyone he worked with – making them custodians of the Island.
Across Chevron, Harry’s clear no-nonsense advice is very much aligned with our environmental principles:
- Include the environment in decision making,
- Reduce our environmental footprint,
- Operating responsibly, and
- Stewarding and providing care to the sites where we operate.
When Harry passed in December 2015, he left a true legacy – one which we’re committed to upholding for future generations.
In his honour, Chevron has developed the “Harry Butler Legacy Project” encompassing existing programs and a suite of new initiatives to advance environmental stewardship.
And I am very pleased to be here today to help announce a new initiative – the official launch of the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University.
Murdoch University, we believe, is the ideal partner because we have long worked with the university on a variety of projects aimed at harnessing new technology to conserve Barrow Island’s conservation values.
As a founding partner of the Harry Butler Institute, we look forward to working with Murdoch to promote high-quality teaching and research in the co-existence of business and biodiversity.
Our partnership will see the establishment of the Chevron Harry Butler Chair in Environmental Management and Biosecurity.
The Chair will lead and coordinate education, research and technical advice, enhancing Chevron Australia’s research activities and the quality of environmental management in our operations.
Even more importantly, the Harry Butler Institute will build on the great work that Harry did with Chevron, and the industry at large, by providing new generations of students with opportunities to undertake high quality research in Biosecurity Science and Environmental Science.
Whenever Harry spoke to Chevron staff, whether they were out in the field, in the Perth office or at our headquarters in California – Harry would always remind us of our personal responsibility to protect the environment.
His catch phrase was often used - “It’s up to you now”
Now more than ever, it is up to us. All of us.
We’ve accepted Harry’s challenge and will be working hard to uphold his legacy for generations to come.
We’re pleased and proud to be a supporter of this important initiative.