Innovative ideas showcase regions to the world

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon Kristy McBain MP, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Member for Eden-Monaro

The Australian Government congratulates Zoe Johnson from Maitland City Council for her winning proposal to boost international trade and investment in the Lower Hunter region of NSW.

Ms Johnson’s proposal for a green construction materials hub was the outcome of her participation in the Horizons International Engagement Leadership Program for 2022.

“Ms Johnson’s idea to develop a green concrete and tile recycling project partnering with international investors was a singular standout,” Minister Farrell said.

“One in four jobs in regional Australia are created by trade and foreign investment. There are limitless opportunities for our regions to develop new industries that will appeal to international investors, consumers and tourists,” Minister McBain said.

“This is a great example of adding value to readily-available industrial by-products and creating a new environmentally sustainable industry and monetizing the circular economy,” Minister Farrell added.

Ms Johnson said she was grateful for the networks that she cultivated through the Horizons Program and the access to experts in international trade, tourism and investment.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to consider current trends and best industry practice. I’m now linked with an inspiring community of Horizon alumni from across the country and have contacts within government and industry,’” Ms Johnson said.

The Horizons Program is delivered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute. For more information, visit

Media enquiries

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