Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

CEO’s shock departure

Murray Irrigation to search for new boss after Anthony Couroupis finishes with the company.

CASS SAVELLIS September 2, 2014 8:45am

Former Murray Irrigation Limited CEO Anthony Couroupis.

Murray Irrigation Limited dropped a bombshell by parting ways with its chief executive officer Anthony Couroupis on Friday.

MIL would not confirm whether Mr Couroupis left on his own accord or was sacked, instead issuing an announcement from chairman Bruce Simpson on its website on Friday saying ‘‘as part of a review of the business there has been some management restructuring’’.

The Pastoral Times believes the announcement came as a huge shock to MIL staff members, and Mr Couroupis said he did not want to comment on the matter when the Pastoral Times’ contacted him yesterday.

‘‘I announce that effective today (Friday) Jennifer McLeod has taken on the role of acting Chief Executive Officer, following the departure of Anthony Couroupis after seven years with the organisation,’’ Mr Simpson said in the written website announcement.

‘‘I thank Mr Couroupis for his service.

‘‘The board will consider appointing an interim CEO in the coming weeks and intends to have a permanent CEO in place within six months.

‘‘None of these changes will affect our operations and it is business as usual at Murray Irrigation.

‘‘Murray Irrigation is energised by our ability to change and grow and looks forward to the success which lies ahead.

‘‘A high priority for the company is continuous improvement of our culture, putting our staff and customers first. We are confident that our direction and these management changes will enable even more successful execution.’’

On Friday, MIL had said it was not prepared to comment on the matter, however by lunch time Monday its media unit had issued a brief statement on the change of CEOs.

The Pastoral Times (page 1, August 15) recently reported that MIL was expected to spend at least $21 million more on its Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) than first expected, however the company would not confirm whether this played a part in the management restructure.

The PIIOP roll-out’s projected cost is now expected to be $206 million.

Ms McLeod, who previously held the position of executive manager customer and external relations, said via the media release issued yesterday the company was focused on ‘‘delivering water to our customers’’.

‘‘Our attention is also on our $206 million investment in infrastructure upgrades.’’

Also in yesterday’s media release, Mr Simpson said the board had now commenced the search for a permanent CEO.

He also said the board had formed a steering committee of two non-executive directors, Tony Read and Chris Badger, and one shareholder-elected director, Tim McKindlay, to oversee the PIIOP project until a permanent CEO is appointed.

Mr Simpson said the board would keep shareholders and customers informed as the company works through these changes.

Mr Couroupis’ role changed from general manager to CEO of Murray Irrigation on July 1.

He was formerly general manager of Murray Catchment Management Authority before joining Murray Irrigation.

Mr Couroupis was embroiled in controversy early on in his seven years at MIL after the Pastoral Times published a series of articles in January 2009 on MIL’s audit report.

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