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Newsletter: Qld State Report

By Jodie Redcliffe, 2013 Scholar and Chair

August 2017

Hello all from sunny Queensland!

At the AGM held in late May, I became the new Chair for Queensland. Nigel Corish (2014 Scholar) and Adam Coffey (2016 Scholar) joined the committee as Vice and Treasurer respectively. Camilla Phillip has continued in her role as Secretary. I would like to thank the previous committee members: Natalie Williams (2012 Scholar) as outgoing Chair and Michael Lyons (2014 Scholar) as Treasurer. After the AGM, we had an entertaining and delicious presentation from Jack Millbank (2007 Scholar) about the formation of his Bargara Brewing Company. We were joined at the excellent Rydges hotel at the EKKA ground by some of our investors from MLA and HIA.

It was good to see Alison and Nev Skerman, (1971 Scholar), longtime supporters of Nuffield Queensland which included many years for Nev as Nuffield Queensland Treasurer.

Some Queenslanders, including Nigel, Tim Napier (2004 Scholar), myself and Wayne, Alison and Nev and Helen and Michael McKellar (2003 Scholar) met up again a few weeks later at the Triennial. It was also good to connect with 2017 Queensland Scholar Matthew Fealy, on the second half of his China GFP. Matthew’s wife Jessica has been admirably keeping the home fires burning by being one of two runners up at the State Rural Women’s Awards. It was a pleasure to attend the event in May and support Jess whilst Matt was GFPing.

Prior to the Triennial, I hosted the 2017 leg of the Japan GFP and as always found the new crop engaged, questioning and open-minded. We had an exciting mix, with five Australian Scholars, and six internationals.

Our 2017 Scholars, Matt Fealy, Luke Bradley, Alex Nixon and Glen Wormald are all busy on their journeys of discovery, while 2016 Scholars Emily Rigby, Ben Edser, Ross Pirrone, Matt Abbott and Will Harrington are up to their ears report writing.

Adam Coffey was featured on the Australian Leadership Project in early May: you can read his interview here. He will be presenting at the National Conference in Darwin, as will other 2016 Scholars, so we cannot wait to support them and listen to their views.

Joe Muscat (2013 Scholar) has had his report published, so I encourage you all to read his findings about the need to value-add and achieve scale to keep our sugar industry viable in the face of tough world competition.  The Mackay sugar region continues to suffer from decreased productivity, and serious financial woes at the mill.

We have been experiencing a mild Queensland winter. Our Autumn was wetter than normal, with Cyclone Debbie making landfall at Airlie Beach on 28 March, so the Northern interior, Coastal and adjacent inland areas had much needed rain, but rainfall was below average in Western districts. The North West and South-Western areas, including the Darling Downs, have had warmer than usual temperatures and continuing dry weather which has limited winter crop planting. In the west, some areas are now into their fourth year of drought. The cattle market, whilst remaining strong, has come down off record prices. The continued shortage of cattle is driving Southern Queensland property prices by a reported 25-35%, and it appears to be broader than just cattle country and includes irrigated inner Downs land.

We ran a successful day of interviews for 2018 Queensland Scholars and we thank the Colliers team, particularly Rawdon Briggs, for use of their boardroom and staff help on the day. Rawdon caught up with us after the interview day, and it is always good to get his insight into the agricultural future. We also caught up with Michael and Michelle Lyons who had been busy that day at the Southbank Regional Flavours Festival promoting Queensland beef, with the likes of celebrity chef Miguel. From our interviews, we sent ten candidates through to nationals. The committee have been working hard to ensure they are ready for the challenge Nuffield Australia presents them.

In sad news, James Walker’s (2012 Scholar) niece, two-year old Willow tragically drowned in a water tank on the family Camden Downs property at Longreach just a few weeks ago. Our thoughts and prayers go to the entire Walker family.

(Above): Trent De Paoli (2013 Scholar), Jack Millbank and I at Bargara Brewing, Bundaberg.

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