Gas Speak completes the loop

The 2012 Gas Speak delegates, mentors and AGIT staff in front of Parliament House in Canberra.

The 2012 Gas Speak delegates, mentors and AGIT staff in front of Parliament House in Canberra.

The 31st annual Gas Speak Colloquium was recently held in Canberra from 10–12 September in the historic Old Parliament House, providing instruction in public speaking at a venue which, in the past, was where many great orators developed and honed their skills.

The Colloquium, which is hosted by the Australian Gas Industry Trust (AGIT), was attended by 29 young members of the gas industry, who were selected from 45 nominees and who represent all sectors, including upstream, transmission, distribution, retail and appliance manufacturers.

The objective of Gas Speak is to encourage an awareness and knowledge of the gas industry in Australia by providing a forum for young people to present papers, chair sessions, conduct syndicate discussions, and develop the art of self-expression and communication. Gas Speak has been a successful and highly regarded gas industry event since 1982, and provides an opportunity for organisations to develop their younger staff and their communication skills, industry awareness and industry networks.

Gas Speak has come full circle, with Anthony Cooper who attended Gas Speak as a delegate ten years ago attending this year as a mentor.

Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson provided the keynote address to the delegates with a run-down of the current state and expected future of the industry. AGIT Director and Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA) Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright then provided an industry update, explained the objectives, activities and members of the AGIT, and highlighted AGIT’s involvement with the International Gas Union as the Australian Charter member. Ms Cartwright urged the delegates to seize the opportunity being provided by their employers, the industry and AGIT, saying that she wished such a forum had been available in her early career.

On the Monday, Louise Carter from Performance Partnership provided delegates with invaluable advice, comments and tips on presentation skills, overcoming presentation anxiety and on using PowerPoint effectively.

Tuesday and Wednesday involved the delegates providing a 20-minute presentation, with each being critiqued by the mentors – AGIT Director and SIT Gas Controls Managing Director Andrew Creek, International Power GDF Suez Senior Trading Originator Sally Calder, Australia Power and Gas Manager Product Development Anthony Cooper, APIA Policy Adviser Steve Davies, Gas Industry Consultant Barbara Jinks, and AGL Energy Manager Gas Operations Saul Milner – who provided further encouraging feedback and suggestions to each delegate.

Wednesday afternoon offered some fun for the delegates with impromptu speeches providing an opportunity to put into practice what they had learned. Helena Wu was judged as the best presenter, Nick Kastelein won the best impromptu speech, whilst Ben Dunstan was judged as being the most improved.

The mentors were impressed by not only the delegates’ knowledge of their sectors of the industry, but also by their abilities and experiences.

The Annual AGIT Gas Industry Dinner, which is held as part of Gas Speak to encourage informal interaction between delegates, mentors and industry representatives, was held on 11 September at The Boat House by the Lake. The guest speaker, Sam Cawthorn, provided a motivational speech on “bouncing forward”, and shared the highs and lows of his journey through life so far, from when he was involved in a major car accident which left him without a right arm and with a permanent disability in his right leg.

Although most of the Gas Speak delegates arrived with a little trepidation about what was to happen, all agreed that having attended, it was excellent training and they would highly recommend it for those given the opportunity to attend a future Gas Speak Colloquium.

Information about AGIT, the Gas Speak Colloquium and the other activities run by AGIT can be found at

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