Rine­hart sees red tape

Countryman - - NEWS - Jenne Bram­mer

Bil­lion­aire Gina Rine­hart has hailed in­vest­ment in agri-tech as a path­way to pros­per­ity and re­newed calls for the McGowan Gov­ern­ment to slash the oner­ous red tape which is ham­per­ing de­vel­op­ment of WA’s north­ern cat­tle in­dus­try.

Speak­ing by vide­olink at last week’s Pas­toral­ists & Gra­ziers’ As­so­ci­a­tion an­nual con­ven­tion, Mrs Rine­hart said Aus­tralia’s cat­tle in­dus­try had great room to grow but was be­ing sti­fled by red tape, cit­ing the ex­am­ple of re­stric­tions on us­ing wa­ter from the Fitzroy River.

“Across the av­er­age wet sea­son, ap­prox­i­mately 7000 gi­gal­itres of wa­ter is wasted,” she said. “This is equiv­a­lent to 14 times Syd­ney har­bour.

“As it stands the Gov­ern­ment only al­lows one wa­ter li­cence to ac­cess wa­ter from the Fitzroy River, leav­ing ap­prox­i­mately 99.991 per cent of the wa­ter to run out use­lessly into the In­dian Ocean.”

The iron ore mogul said the im­pact of this red tape was ev­i­dent when com­par­ing Aus­tralia’s cat­tle in­dus­try to that of Brazil. Brazil has 210 mil­lion cat­tle, com­pared with Aus­tralia’s 25 mil­lion, de­spite the coun­tries hav­ing a sim­i­lar land mass.

The im­pact of red tape is also ev­i­dent be­tween Aus­tralian States. Ac­cord­ing to Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia 2016-2017 fig­ures, Queens­land has 10.6 mil­lion cat­tle, com­pared with WA’s 2 mil­lion, even though WA has a much big­ger land mass.

Now the third-big­gest pro­ducer of cat­tle in Aus­tralia with a to­tal herd size reach­ing about 300,000, Hancock Prospect­ing’s pas­toral port­fo­lio in­cludes the Liveringa and Ner­rima sta­tions, which cover 470,000ha in the Fitzroy Val­ley, and Fos­sil Downs sta­tion near Fitzroy Cross­ing.

Mrs Rine­hart last year bought Aus­tralia’s big­gest pas­toral com­pany, S. Kid­man and Co, with Chi­nese group Shang­hai CRED, and is set to live ex­port up to 300,000 cat­tle a year to China. She also plans to launch a Kid­man-branded beef range.

Hancock Agri­cul­ture’s chief ex­ec­u­tive David Larkin said the firm wanted to form a part­ner­ship with pro­ces­sors through­out Aus­tralia to launch its own chilled and frozen prod­ucts for do­mes­tic and ex­port mar­kets, with meat from Kid­man.

“We are de­vel­op­ing sup­ply chain re­la­tion­ships with as many cus­tomers as pos­si­ble,” Mr Larkin said. “The fo­cus is to de­velop a post-far­m­gate, ver­ti­cally in­te­grated agri­cul­tural busi­ness.”

He said Kid­man Santa Gertrudis cat­tle were be­ing pro­cessed this week, gen­er­at­ing sam­ples, ini­tially for restau­rant cus­tomers in South Aus­tralia. The tri­als would be ex­panded across Aus­tralia, then in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“This is a big op­por­tu­nity,” he said. “There is a mas­sive story to tell with an iconic brand like Kid­man. Tar­get des­ti­na­tion is the world.”

The group could po­ten­tially launch WA-fo­cused Hancock prod­ucts down the track, but the im­me­di­ate fo­cus would be the Kid­man brand­ing.

Sid­ney Kid­man was the orig­i­nal “cat­tle king” af­ter build­ing Aus­tralia’s big­gest pas­toral em­pire from 1899. The busi­ness was ac­quired by Mrs Rine­hart’s Hancock Prospect­ing and China’s Shang­hai CRED last year.

Mr Larkin, who started his ca­reer in 1984 as an ap­pren­tice butcher and built the global meat brand Atron En­ter­prises be­fore sell­ing it to Thomas Foods In­ter­na­tional, said the group’s pre­ferred to work with ex­ist­ing abat­toirs rather than build or ac­quire its own pro­ces­sors.

Hancock was de­vel­op­ing art­work and lo­gos, and had ap­pointed a head of mar­ket­ing to de­velop a strat­egy for its Kid­man-branded prod­ucts.

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Digby Stretch with the PGA achieve­ment award.

Pic­ture: Tom La­mond

Ian Evans, Bruce Eyres and Emma Git­toes at the con­ven­tion.

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