The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), a peak national employer organisation, has today announced the establishment of a base in North Queensland in a major vote of confidence in the growing importance of the region.


In announcing the appointment of Dean Deighton as North Queensland Manager, Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox, who is in Townsville this week to launch the initiative, said the move reflected the national significance of the area.


“North Queensland has a rich and diverse industry base and has long been a serious player in the national business landscape,” Mr Willox said.


“Over the past five years local employment in the Manufacturing sector has increased by more than 60 per cent, underlining the importance of the region to the state’s economy,” Mr Willox said.


“By establishing a base here, we can help ensure that the needs of this region’s businesses are represented in state and national policy making and they have access to new opportunities.


“We can also support North Queensland businesses with a rich array of services and insights across workplace relations, economics, health and safety, international trade, standards and regulations, business growth and skills and training,” Mr Willox said.


Ai Group is an employer membership organisation that has been representing the interests of businesses for more than 140 years.  As well as providing vital business support services, it operates at the cutting edge of advocacy, keeping members fully up to date on developments that impact their businesses and giving local businesses a local, state and national voice.


Mr Deighton will be based in Townsville and service businesses throughout Central, North, Far North and North West Queensland. 


“Dean is already well known to many local businesses and is familiar with all the issues and opportunities employers face in the region.  He will work to drive business success by linking employers with the local support they need and ensuring their issues are heard by all levels of government,” Mr Willox said.


Ai Group Queensland head Rebecca Andrews welcomed the appointment, saying Mr Deighton would strengthen the Queensland team.


“Businesses in the north of the state have always been valued members of Ai Group and Dean’s presence in the region will deepen our engagement with members and help more businesses access the support and services they need,’’ Ms Andrews said.


Ai Group Queensland’s Advisory Council chairman Ken Bridges said local businesses would benefit greatly from a local Ai Group presence.


Mr Bridges, the Managing Director of B&R Enclosures, which has a sales office and warehouse in Townsville, said his many years of involvement with Ai Group had proven invaluable in contributing to the success of his business.


Mr Deighton said he was passionate about the potential and opportunities in the north “from Gladstone to Cairns, out to Mt Isa and all points in between”.


He has deep experience in industry development and is well known right across regional Queensland having worked in various roles including the Director of the North Qld Manufacturing Hub Program.


A North Queensland local for more than 25 years, Mr Deighton, has four grandsons in the region and says he wants to ensure they have access to opportunities long into their futures.


“I am very aware of many of the challenges businesses and industries face across northern Queensland ranging from supply chain costs and disruption, punitive regional insurance premiums, the ability to attract and maintain skilled staff and access to services for those in remote areas,’’ Mr Deighton said.


“With the Queensland Government looking to spend billions of dollars in the region as we emerge from the pandemic, and with the federal election likely to generate further spending commitments in the region, it is important the voice of regional business is heard.  Working with members and my Ai Group colleagues, I will ensure the needs of businesses in the north are heard and acted on,’’ Mr Deighton said.


Further Comment:

Dean Deighton - 0475 773 659