Thursday, February 5, 2015

CCA must be 'truly representative'



Nov, 2013 02:00 AM

QUEENSLAND livestock agent Tim McHugh had an idea that last week broke a dam of pent-up frustration over the collection and distribution of beef cattle levies.

Mr McHugh organised a group of Queensland graziers, agents and transport industry representatives to put their case for a review of the levy system to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in Townsville last Thursday.

The next day, Mr Joyce unofficially announced his intention to seek a Senate inquiry into beef levy disbursement.

Within a few hours, the meeting had advanced an issue that has been festering within sectors of the industry for years.

Mr McHugh said he has had a long-standing respect for Mr Joyce. When the former Queensland senator became Agriculture Minister, he conceived the idea of a meeting outside the usual cattle industry structures to discuss the vexed question of levies.

The opportunity to put Mr Joyce in the same room with some articulate members of the beef industry was presented by last week's Livexchange 2013 conference in Townsville. Mr McHugh took it.

"It's a good result," said Mr McHugh, a partner in the Hogan and McHugh agency in Townsville, of Monday's official announcement that Mr Joyce had approached the Senate with the proposal.

"At the end of the day, the basic structures that are in place will stay in place. What my clients are looking for is more accountability and transparency. And the election process is very convoluted."

The Townsville group told Mr Joyce that it believed Cattle Council (CCA) should be "truly representative" of Australia's grazing industry, including having full control of all levies collected from graziers and allocation of those levies.

"We also need leadership. We need a good strong corporate person with political connections and influence to head up Cattle Council and our industry," Mr McHugh said.

In Mr McHugh's view, former Liberal leader John Hewson had the right credentials for the job in the years after Mr Hewson left politics.

"Obviously the CCA board has to be made up of industry people, but the head of the board doesn't need to be a cattleman, in my view. They need business acumen along with good business and political connections, and the ability to delegate."

Much has to happen before Mr McHugh and his colleagues see whether their ideas are realised - first and foremost, whether the Senate takes up the inquiry, and what terms of reference it sets around it.

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