Community Business

Nation's rural heritage celebrated on Australia Day - but not well understood

Seven out of 10 Australians believe agribusiness contributes to the national identity - but the team behind Year of the Farmer are concerned that three out of 10 people do not.

Year of the Farmer highlights Australian agribusiness.


Research for the 2012 Australian Year of the Farmer has confirmed the important role agribusiness plays in what it means to be Australian - but it also acts as a warning to the industry that it needs to continually raise its profile beyond its economic importance.

The research found the majority of Australians (71 percent) believe agribusiness contributes to the Australian way of life and that it plays a significant role in what it means to be Australian (69%).

Australian Year of the Farmer co-founder and managing director Geoff Bell said the results were encouraging but hoped, by the end of 2012, more Australians would realise the contribution of Agribusiness to the national identity.

"For a country that was said to be built upon the sheep's back, it's great to know that the majority of Australians still recognise the importance of the rural sector in defining who we are, where we've come from, and where we are headed as a country - but there are many who don't see the connection," Mr Bell said.

"The research tells us that nearly a third of all Australians do not appreciate the significance of agriculture to our national identity. As a proud Australian who feels passionately about the bush, I find this personally disappointing.

"That's why, six years ago, we began planning a Year of the Farmer celebration. By the end of 2012, we would be thrilled to know that we've helped all Australians fall back in love with rural Australia.

"We hope a celebration of this magnitude will encourage Australians to show their appreciation for farmers and their families and to recognise the enormous contribution they make. And not just to the economy, but to Australia's social fabric - our very way of life."

Of the 2000 Australians surveyed, young people aged between 16 and 24 were the least likely to associate agribusiness with the national identity, with just over half (51%) recognising its contribution to the Australian way of life and a similar amount (53%) recognising its contribution to what it means to be Australian.

Mr Bell said the lack of engagement with rural Australia by youth was a particularly worrying trend that had emerged in recent years.

"It's no surprise to see that Australian youth find it harder to associate agribusiness with the Australian identity as more and more are growing up in metropolitan areas, removed from the iconic rural landscapes and flourishing rural communities in which agribusiness has its roots," Mr Bell said. "But if they had a think about it, they'd realise that agribusiness is actually all around them.

"Every time they buy clothes made from Australian wool or cotton, every time they eat an Australian grown apple, eat a steak, or go to the takeaway for fish and chips, many hands in the Agribusiness chain have helped get it to them - and it doesn't stop there.

"Of the 1.6 million jobs agribusiness provides, more than half are located in metropolitan Australia and the contribution of the broader agribusiness sector to the nation's economy, each year, has been estimated to be in excess of $400billion," Mr Bell said.

"We want 2012 to be a landmark celebration of Australian farmers and of Agribusiness in general. We want it to be remembered as a turning point at which urban and rural communities were brought closer together. And we want it to be the year that changed the habits of Australians, encouraging them to stop and think about the many farm products that support their lifestyle.

"We need only look at the food and drink that we enjoy on Australia Day to see how fortunate we are that this country boasts such a dynamic and innovative agricultural sector.

"On January 26, as we celebrate what it means to be Australian - perhaps with a couple of snags made from Australian pork, in bread made from Australian wheat and with sauce made from Australian tomatoes - I encourage all Australians to consider the way in which farming and related industries have shaped, and continue to shape, our national identity.

"This Australia Day, I call upon all Australians to consider what it means to be ‘Australian', and to consider what their lives would be like without the many men and women working in Agribusiness to bring them the products found every day in shops and supermarkets across the country."


Who has the brains to Beat The Bosses at the Ivy?

A titanic battle of wits against a corps of Australia's top business leaders is taking place tonight in Sydney - all to help children in foster, residential or kinship care.

Beat The Bosses is a trivia quiz night with a twist where the who's who of insurance and finance pit their wits against their bosses in a head-to-head battle of the brains.

Beat The Bosses at the Ivy is guaranteed to be a fun night of frivolity and fighting with facts, offering great prizes and top notch trivia, all in support of improving the lives of children and young people in what is known as out-of-home care.

More than 36,000 children are living in care in Australia and  this number is increasing by about 10 percent each year.

At last year's Beat The Bosses event, a Calliden table narrowly beat the bosses in a fun-filled night.

This year's supporters include managing director of AMPCI Stephen Dunne, QBE CEO for Australian operations Colin Fagen, Aon Benfield president Rob De Souza, Westfarmers COO David Brown, Calliden CEO Nick Kirk, Finity managing director Estelle Pearson, Munich Re managing director Heinrich Eder, Allianz chief general manager Niran Peiris, Zurich CEO Shane Doyle, Chubb managing director Mark Lingafelter, Willis Re CEO Michael Harden, Assetinsure managing director Peter Wedgewood, KPMG partner Andrew Reeves, Employers Mutual acting CEO and general manager for corporate services Anthony Fleetwood, TAL CEO of Investments Geoff Black, Austbrokers CEO Lachlan McKeough, Swiss Re managing director Mark Senkevics, Chartis CEO Noel Condon, and other senior staff members from Tokio, Berkley, PMA Solutions, Finity and Sparke Helmore, Ansvar and ARPC.

Special guests for the evening include CREATE Foundation patron, David Hill and the event has been sponsored by Accenture, Steadfast and PMA Solutions.

"The response from finance and insurance bosses has been better than ever. Our industry can make a profound difference in the lives of children in care," said CREATE Foundation chairman David Matcham. "There is a global economic crisis and markets may be contracting, and uncertainty prevails.

"The impact of this global crisis on families has a major impact on child protection. With over 20 CEOs and MDs attending there are plenty of bosses to be beaten. Together we look forward to helping bring about positive change through supporting CREATE Foundation at this special event."

The evening also features performances by international tenor and CREATE ambassador, Stephen Smith, who is aiming to push guests to the limit of their operatic knowledge.

Although an international success today, it has not been an easy path to success for the opera singer. He left home at 15 and found himself living on the streets, before making friends through music, achieving a scholarship and today being one of Ausralia's leading performers. Mr Smith is currently performing Don Ottavio in Opera Australia's Melbourne production of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

Author and broadcaster Peter FizSimons has jumped on board to make a difference to the lives of kids in care by donating a ‘money can't buy prize' to raise funds for the CREATE Your Future program.

 "As the silly season looms this special event provides guests with an opportunity to gain insight and understand the issues facing children and young people growing up in care," said Jacqui Reed, chief executive officer of the CREATE Foundation. "At Christmas time there is a sharp increase in demand for services to assist families experiencing relationship breakdown at the end of the year. Funds raised from our supporters on the night will support young people to reach their full potential.

"The CREATE Your Future program equips and empowers young people to successfully transition from care to independence through practical skill development such as job readiness, basic living skills and the know-how to secure appropriate accommodation a job or training course.

"Ultimately, this program assists to connect young people, reduce isolation and build their self-confidence."

This is at The Ivy Room, 330 George Street, Sydney and all funds raised will be dedicated to the CREATE Your Future Program which equips and empowers young people for transitioning from care to independent living at 18.



State of the nation: Power disconnections up 37 percent

If ever there was evidence needed that trading conditions are getting tougher, especially for general retailers and service industries who deal with the general public, the latest figures out of Queensland showing home power disconnections are manifold.

Home electricity cut-offs up 37 percent.

Community service organisations have new official figures showing Queensland electricity disconnections for non payment have risen 37 percent over the past year - with pensioners and concession card holders making up almost 18 percent of those disconnected. 

"That's a total of 24,598 residential customers disconnected in the past year for non-payment," according to Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) president Karyn Walsh.

"And 6 percent of those, or 1466 people, had their electricity cut off for more than a week before it was reconnected in the same name." 

Ms Walsh linked the increased disconnections to the spiraling cost of essentials. Over the past five years, the cost of essentials has risen well above the consumer price index of 19 percent: electricity (up by 63%), public transport (up by 48%), insurance (up by 40%), rent (up by 35%) and food (up by 23%). 

"But there are other issues that contribute," Ms Walsh said. "There is not enough support available and a lack of knowledge of the support that does exist.

"We also have to ask ourselves whether the electricity retailers are doing enough to comply with their obligations to identify people experiencing hardship early and proactively assist them. By July next year they will be subject to far more stringent national requirements and they should already be working towards meeting these standards. 

"People are entitled to expect retailers to provide assistance through hardship programs or payment plans. Those in difficulty should contact their electricity retailer early and not wait for disconnection," said Ms Walsh. 

"These figures are an indication that the current concessions framework isn't working well enough. While a complete review of the framework should be a long-term goal there are steps that can be taken immediately - like changing the current 'pensioner' concessions to ‘low-income' concessions that will apply to pensioners and all health care card holders. This is done in other states and is a far more equitable system." 

Full details of the disconnections are available at




World's top cricket umpire, Simon Taufel, gives ‘out' on sport, business at SW Chamber charity event

Simon Taufel, widely regarded as the world's best cricket umpire, will make a special appearance at Queensland's South West Chamber of Commerce charity breakfast in Brisbane on September 30.

Simon Taufel

Mr Taufel's views on the current state of world cricket - and his chilling story of being caught in the March 3, 2009, terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan - are expected to attract a record crowed to the event being staged at the Queensland Tennis Centre, Pat Rafter Arena, Tennyson.


Mr Taufel has been attracted to the South West Chamber of Commerce event to help launch The Jonathan Foundation (TJF) which is a new concept in lifestyle accommodation for adults who live with an intellectual disability. TJF is a local charity adopted by the South West Chamber of Commerce. Rare items of sporting memorabilia will be auctioned by compere and Radio 4BC broadcaster, Peter Psaltis, at the event to assist TJF.

Simon Taufel is widely regarded as currently the best cricket umpire in the world and he rarely makes appearances of this kind. In his discussions, Mr Taufel will not only share great moments in cricket, he will also speak about the disciplines that apply to both business and sport. He will also provide insights into his way of staying at the top and at the forefront of international cricket umpiring.

Simon Taufel is a member of the ICC Elite umpire panel. He won five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008.

Mr Taufel is the youngest person to have received the ICC's Bronze Bails Award for umpiring 100 One Day Internationals (ODIs), having made his first-class debut in 1995, aged just 24.  Mr  Taufel quickly proved himself to be an excellent decision maker, and stood in his first ODI on January 13, 1999 in the match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney. He was just 28 years old; younger than some of the players.

After yet more impressive performances he was given the honour of standing in his first test match in December 2000 - the Boxing Day Test between Australia and West Indies at Melbourne. He became a member of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires in 2002 and was then chosen to umpire at the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

His performances were sufficiently impressive to earn him a promotion to the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, the panel from which neutral umpires are chosen for test matches and ODIs.

Some people believe that Mr Taufel is the best umpire in the world, and in August 2006 in the ICC's annual umpire review he was officially ranked second for accuracy (behind Darrell Hair), and top overall. He is highly respected for his decision making ability, and is also highly regarded for his calm and positive on-field manner.

However, being so accurate for so much of the time does put additional pressure on him to perform, and after some poor decisions in a Test match between England and New Zealand at Trent Bridge in 2004 he was branded ‘Awful Taufel' by the British press. He quickly recovered and went on to stand in the final of the 2004 Champions Trophy. He has also been appointed to several high profile India-Pakistan fixtures, in which he has performed superbly, and to the 2005 ICC SuperSeries, where Australia took on a Rest-of-the-World XI.

At the 2006 Champions Trophy he umpired a semi-final, but could not umpire the final because Australia had reached it.

In January 2007 he became the youngest umpire to stand in 100 ODIs, and in April 2007 took charge of the World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, again being ineligible for the final which featured Australia.

In late May 2008 Mr Taufel officiated in the 2nd Test match at Old Trafford, England v New Zealand with fellow Australian Darrell Hair. This was Mr Hair's comeback match after a long break.

After being caught in the deadly terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, Mr Taufel, along with Chris Broad, strongly criticized the Pakistan security forces' response to the incident.

The September 30 event opens at 7am for a 7:30am start at the Queensland Tennis Centre Main Function Room, Pat Rafter Arena, 190 King Arthur Terrace, Tennyson, south of Brisbane.

Members are $55 per person and it is $65 per person for non-members.

Register online at



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