Neil was the Commissioner responsible for environment, agriculture and natural resource management issues in the Productivity Commission from April 1998 to March 2010. He presided over twenty six public inquiries and directed the PC’s environmental economics program. Previous appointments were: at the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in Canberra; teaching resource and environmental economics and development economics at ANU; Chief Technical Adviser of a United Nations Project in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Assistant Director General of the Centre for International Forestry Research, based in Indonesia. Neil also consulted internationally in the design and evaluation of rural development projects since 1980.

Since 2008, he has been an Adjunct Professor in Environmental Economics at the ANU then at the University of Canberra. In 2014/15 he chaired an independent review of Biodiversity Legislation in NSW which led to the drafting of a new Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Neil is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. From 2008 to 2011 he was a non-executive Director of a plantation forestry company in New Zealand and has been a Director of Earthwatch Institute Australia since 2010. In his private life, Neil enjoys long walks (200 to 600 km) and has been a private pilot and aircraft owner since 1987.