New president plans for future

New RAS president Rob Wilson.
New RAS president Rob Wilson.

Dr Wilson replaced Hugh Harding, who served for three years until the society’s annual general meeting last month.

‘The future is very exciting as we have embarked on a concept master plan that will enhance the facilities, the show and non-show activities,’ he said.

An agriculture manager and researcher, Dr Wilson moved from Victoria to WA about three decades ago to work in and improve intensive pig farming.

He said he was keen to bolster public education about agriculture, so research and a permanent demonstration farm for school children could become part of the showground’s master plan to be developed in the next 12 months. The plan would also determine which older buildings could be improved, as well as indentify any as a future agricultural conference centre.

‘But we won’t be selling off any land to pay for it,’ Dr Wilson said.

Asked how the site copes with central Claremont’s retail and residential expansion, he said opportunities included a potential pop-up market or food hall and commuter parking to replace that lost near the railway station.

But he said the showgrounds would never move, even if a State government offered a new, specially-designed facility on Perth’s outskirts, because the Claremont site was intended ‘to bring the country to the city’.

Dr Wilson said the RAS was ‘not specifically’ seeking new, large music concerts to replace cancelled events, such as the Big Day Out, but small concerts had a future role.

Outside of work, Dr Wilson and wife Lola go to live concerts, and he plays stringed instruments.