Born and raised in Papua New Guinea, Kevin Byrne had a seventeen year army officer career where he saw service in Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Singapore and South Vietnam where he was awarded the Mentioned in Despatches commendation in 1971 for meritorious service. His final military appointment was as Senior Instructor at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra in 1987.
Following his military career, he was recruited to the Queensland Government where he headed the office of Northern and Regional Development based in Cairns where his responsibilities included formulating development policies across Northern and Western Queensland. He later managed the Cairns office of the Queensland Confederation of Industry, the State’s largest private sector employer organisation before becoming Mayor of Cairns in 1992. He served a total of eleven years as Mayor of Cairns making him the second longest serving Mayor in the city’s history. He was elected on four occasions. It was during this time that the city enjoyed unprecedented growth and development ranking it now as one of the Australia’s most liveable and desirable regional cities. It was also during this time that he forged close ties with China leading five trade and investment delegations to Hong Kong and throughout China. He was responsible for establishing a sister city relationship with Zhanjiang in Southern China. Between periods on the Council he also worked in the Komi Republic of Northern Russia on an eight month assignment as the Administrative Director of a giant oil spill and environmental remediation project funded by the World Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
Kevin Byrne has also served for four years as the Chief Executive of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority where he was responsible for the design and implementation of the country’s initial Tourism Development Policy launched in 1996. During this time he also served as Acting Chairman of the National Airline Commission, Deputy Chairman of Air Niugini, a delegate to the APEC working groups on Tourism and Trade as well as a member of the National Negotiating Team on International Air Service Agreements. He has served on numerous boards of management and has served as Patron to dozens of community organisations over many years, many of which remain current. He was awarded the Papua New Guinea Independence Medal (25th Anniversary) in 2000 for services to Aviation and Tourism and in 2003 the Australian Centenary Medal for services to Local Government and the City of Cairns.
In February 2010 he was appointed the Queensland Government Special Trade Representative to Papua New Guinea before joining the Bechtel Corporation as LANCO Program Manager on the ExxonMobil led PNG LNG project. He joined InterOil Corporation in July 2011 as Corporate Affairs Manager at the conclusion of that contract, where his responsibilities also included management of the Gulf LNG licensing processes as well as the coordination of the Community Affairs and Local Business Development programmes associated with the Elk/Antelope project. He concluded the assignment when Total were announced as Project Developers for the second PNG LNG project. Following this appointment he completed an 8 month restructuring appointment as Group General Manager at Hides Gas Development Company before assuming an appointment as Country Manager for Applus Velosi PNG which concluded in April 2015.
Kevin Byrne is a member of both the Australian and PNG Institute of Company Directors. He currently chairs the Board of the Cairns Regional Gallery Foundation and is a Life Member of the Cairns Game Fishing Club and the Cairns Regional Gallery. He was recently accorded PNG resident status in recognition of his long association with the country. He and his family reside in Cairns.