Tracey Hayes moves on af­ter three years

CEO to hand over reins to ‘most pro­gres­sive’ or­gan­i­sa­tion in coun­try

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - . CANDYCE BRAITH­WAITE Candyce.braith­waite@apn.com.au

SHE’S been an in­stru­men­tal part in de­vel­op­ing the fu­ture of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory pas­toral in­dus­try.

Dubbed one of the Ter­ri­tory’s most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple, Tracey Hayes wears her heart on her sleeve when talk­ing about the com­mu­nity and in­dus­try she’s ex­tremely proud to work in, live in and pro­mote.

The first fe­male chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion from the role af­ter three years, which has prompted an out­pour­ing of ad­mi­ra­tion for the mother-of-four. Ms Hayes took some time out of her busy sched­ule to catch up with Ru­ral Weekly re­cently to look back at her time in the hot seat.

“It’s been a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion. I’ve loved ev­ery minute of it,” she said.

“I’ve had the chance to deal with a whole range of fab­u­lous peo­ple at a membership level through to politi­cians and pol­icy mak­ers.

“At the end of the day, it’s been my role to in­flu­ence change for the bet­ter, work with the in­dus­try and peo­ple and to make sure the Ter­ri­tory’s pas­toral in­dus­try is headed in the right di­rec­tion.”

Some of Ms Hayes’ high­lights from the role in­clude ne­go­ti­at­ing a land ac­cess model for the re­source sec­tor and lead­ing a $600 mil­lion class ac­tion against the gov­ern­ment.

“Get­ting manda­tory land ac­cess agree­ments into the pol­icy was a huge win for the in­dus­try. It’s the first step in the right di­rec­tion,” she said.

“Be­fore­hand land­hold­ers had min­i­mal say. Com­pa­nies would just send a let­ter of their in­tent to ex­plore.

“The co-ex­is­tence, land ac­cess model for min­ing and gas is on­go­ing, it’s not com­plete. It needs to be leg­is­lated to en­sure the pro­tec­tion of our liveli­hoods into the fu­ture.

“This is some­thing I’d re­ally like to see through be­fore fin­ish­ing up.”

Ms Hayes said a lot had gone on be­hind the scenes in prepa­ra­tion for the class ac­tion against the gov­ern­ment and for­mer agri­cul­tural min­is­ter Joe Lud­wig fol­low­ing a com­plete sus­pen­sion of live an­i­mal ex­ports to In­done­sia in 2011, which left the in­dus­try reel­ing and many farm­ers with­out in­come.

“A win for us was the Fed­eral Court or­der­ing Joe Lud­wig to hand over pri­vate emails and texts re­lat­ing to the class ac­tion,” she said.

“We now have a court date set down for the mid­dle of July, which is an­other step in the right di­rec­tion.”

While Ms Hayes said ev­ery day pre­sented new chal­lenges and the Ter­ri­tory had come a long way, it had been dif­fi­cult try­ing to im­ple­ment a new way of think­ing in the gov­ern­ment and re­sources sec­tor.

Travel has been a huge part of the role, in­clud­ing var­i­ous trips to China and In­done­sia.

“We con­stantly have a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on al­ter­na­tive mar­kets for the Ter­ri­tory; pre­vi­ously we’ve been highly ex­posed and vul­ner­a­ble with­out mar­ket di­ver­sity,” she said. “We’ve needed to be strate­gic in our ap­proach. We’re re­ally fo­cus­ing on one area and one re­gion of China and build­ing strong friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships with key play­ers.

“Hope­fully soon AACo will get the go-ahead to ex­port to China. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are still go­ing on around live ex­port pro­to­cols and lim­i­ta­tions in place, in­clud­ing blue tongue.”

One in­ter­na­tional project Ms Hayes said she was ex­tremely proud of was an In­done­sian pas­toral pro­gram.

“We re­cruit can­di­dates from 13 uni­ver­si­ties from across In­done­sia,” she said.

“We se­lect 20 to be part of the pro­gram and bring them back to Aus­tralia and put them through in­ten­sive train­ing, ed­u­cat­ing them in north­ern beef and have them out work­ing on mem­bers’ sta­tions.

“It is an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time.

“Then six months later the host fam­i­lies tour their vil­lages in In­done­sia and visit their uni­ver­si­ties, it’s a real 360 cul­ture ex­pe­ri­ence pro­gram.

“It’s help­ing us to form life-long re­la­tion­ships with the young In­done­sian com­mu­nity and ce­ment­ing our fu­ture re­la­tion­ships.”

Ms Hayes said build­ing rock-solid re­la­tion­ships at a grass roots level would make it eas­ier for the Ter­ri­tory to do busi­ness with In­done­sia in the fu­ture, an achieve­ment of which she was ex­tremely proud.

Along­side in­ter­na­tional travel, the Ter­ri­tory’s a big place to cover when you are re­quired at 16 face-to-face branch meet­ings in dif­fer­ent ar­eas each year.

“It’s re­ally es­sen­tial we get out to these meet­ings with the mem­bers,” Ms Hayes said.

“We do about 20,000km a year cov­er­ing the ground. It’s a big job.

“We make sure the mem­bers have a chance to form pol­icy and help take the as­so­ci­a­tion in the di­rec­tion it needs to go.”

There are also four meet­ings a year with the ex­ec­u­tive board to dis­cuss what has been go­ing on out in the re­gions and branches.

The North­ern Ter­ri­tory Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion is ded­i­cated to get­ting the next gen­er­a­tion into the pas­toral in­dus­try and Ms Hayes said the in­dige­nous pas­toral pro­gram played a huge role.

“We re­cruit young in­dige­nous peo­ple into a pro­gram and place them in paid po­si­tions and men­tor them through the process,” she said.

“At this year’s conference we had an in­au­gu­ral award for a great young achiever to at­tract and en­cour­age oth­ers to be a part of the pro­gram.”

Ms Hayes said the an­nual conference had be­come a huge part of their year now, at­tract­ing more than 500 del­e­gates.

“It’s one of the big­ger agri-con­fer­ences in Aus­tralia now,” she said. “It’s a re­ally great op­por­tu­nity for us to work with our col­leagues and part­ners in the in­dus­try.

“But it’s also a chance for the pas­toral­ists to come to town and we seek out speak­ers who will chal­lenge and in­spire peo­ple.

“We make it all about think­ing out­side the square and look­ing for over the hori­zon chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I re­ally be­lieve we’re one of the most pro­gres­sive or­gan­i­sa­tions in the coun­try and we’re up with the mod­ern in­dus­try. There’s such a di­ver­sity in the Ter­ri­tory with fam­ily and cor­po­rate en­ti­ties.”

Be­fore fin­ish­ing up in the role, Ms Hayes would like to have the op­por­tu­nity to as­sist to de­velop a north­ern Aus­tralian beef strate­gic plan.

“We’re at the stage now we have a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity to have a tar­geted fo­cus on north Aus­tralia,” she said.

“We’ve got our own min­is­ter and a fo­cus out of Can­berra like we’ve never had be­fore.

“The chal­lenges that ex­ist for us also ex­ist in West­ern Aus­tralia and Queens­land – the plan in­cludes those ju­ris­dic­tions as well.

“A great ex­am­ple would be when we’re lob­by­ing for money for the beef roads. If we have a strate­gic di­rec­tion that can sit un­der­neath it, in­stead of a blue print sit­ting on the shelf col­lect­ing dust, we’ve got more to re­fer to – here’s our blue print for in­vest­ment.”

Last year Ms Hayes was placed in the top spot of the Ter­ri­tory’s most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple.

“We were won­der­ing who it would be. Not for one minute did I think it was go­ing to be me,” she said.

“I was re­ally hum­bled but I felt more than any­thing it was in­dica­tive of where our as­so­ci­a­tion and the in­dus­try is at the mo­ment.

While Ms Hayes said she was step­ping down from the role to spend more time with her fam­ily, she would still like to con­trib­ute to the in­dus­try in some way.

“The boys are in high school now so we will stay in Dar­win un­til they’ve fin­ished to con­tinue to give them sta­bil­ity,” she said.

“I’ll still work from home. I’ve got other busi­ness in­ter­ests that have been ne­glected of late, but I will cer­tainly keep my­self busy and chal­lenged.

“I’ve been in­volved in the NTCA for a long time now, as vice-pres­i­dent and as CEO, I can’t see my­self break­ing away overnight.”

Tracey dur­ing a trip to Rizhao, China in 2016 with Mark Sul­li­van and the very happy re­cip­i­ent of an NT-made stock­whip.

Tracey with with Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce and Fe­b­rina Prameswari (NIAPP Alumni) in Bris­bane at a red meat part­ner­ship meet­ing.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Tracey at the Eco­nomic and Trade Co-op­er­a­tion Fo­rum in Rizhao, China in 2016.

Tracey and Mr Ye Cheng, group chair­man of the board/pres­i­dent of Land­bridge Group, dur­ing a tour of Dar­win.

GREAT LEADER: Tracey Hayes will step down from her role as NTCA CEO later this year. PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Tracey with two of her sons, Sam and Harry, who both live in Dar­win with her.

Tracey and NTCA ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers dur­ing a trip to Can­berra in 2016.

Tracey Hayes at the gala din­ner for the 100 Women of In­flu­ence in Syd­ney in 2016.

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