OUR great mate Greg Smith was tragically killed on the 2nd of April 2021 as a result of an accident while discharging cattle in the port of Belawan in north Sumatera, Indonesia. He leaves behind his mum Nancy, wife Lina, daughter Felicity (Flossie 35) and sons Tristan (18) and Brody (15). He was 59 years old.
After family, his passions were cattle, Indonesia and socializing. He left the northern cattle industry for a back-packing holiday to Indonesia in 1989 and has remained there for most of his life. Forced to become fluent in the Indonesian language as a necessity for survival, he became an extremely valuable asset to the Indonesian/Australian cattle import/export industry where he was able to combine his deep knowledge and empathy for cattle with his first rate communication skills.
Greg was involved in a wide range of cattle projects in Indonesia (and other Asian countries later in his career) from the establishment and operation of feedlots, safe handling of imported cattle, ESCAS auditing, training of staff, development of breeding projects and most recently in the monitoring of the health and welfare of imported Australian breeders after distribution to small holders across huge areas of Indonesia.
Greg was the kind of person you would call at a time of trouble or tragedy for companionship and support to meet up, talk and maybe receive his own very special brand of pragmatic advice, oftentimes over a cold beer (or several). We miss him already.
A funeral will be held in Darwin in the near future with details yet to be confirmed.
The photos below are a good summary of his career with the first taken not long after his arrival in Indonesia.
People in the Industry.
Published below is a profile article written by Dr Ross Ainsworth about Greg Smith and published on Beef Central on October 7, 2014, under the headline “Greg Smith: A live export journey”
Greg Smith: Austrex Supply Chain Manager, Indonesia
The Industry Collaborative Animal Welfare Program is quite a mouthful so it is usually described by its acronym ICWP. It refers to a Livestock Export Program (LEP) initiative established in 2011 which provided livestock exporters with partial funding (primarily through MLA) for the placement of animal welfare or supply chain officers within markets.
The job calls for exporters to employ in-country staff who can monitor and support the performance of their customers to ensure compliance with ESCAS (Export Supply Chain Assurance System). Obviously while this person is interacting with the customer they are also available to delivery the usual range of customer support services on behalf of the exporter. This program has to be one of the most successful and cost effective projects supported by the LEP.
The ideal candidate for this role is someone with a thorough understanding of Australian cattle industry and the live export trade as well as in intimate knowledge of the operational environment and culture of the importing country. Greg Smith’s CV could have been written with this job in mind.
After beginning as a jackeroo on Brunette Downs in 1979 he worked his way up to head stockman on a number of stations in the Northern Territory and Kimberley. At the end of the 1989 season in the Waterloo bull catching camp with John Quintana, he decided to do some backpacking around Indonesia. During the next 2 years Greg was totally immersed in Indonesia and its culture, working for local wages in a range of jobs from teaching English to selling household chemicals. As a result, his Indonesian language skills and deep cultural knowledge are exceptional. He landed his first local cattle job with Tipperary-Indonesia in Sumatera when they opened the Indonesian feeder cattle trade in 1991.
From 1992 to 2003 Greg worked for a number of major Indonesian feedlotters and even branched out into exporting bulldozers after the Asian financial collapse temporarily shut down the live export trade from 1997 – 1999.
In 2003 Greg took his wife and young son back to Australia, working in both the cattle and construction industries in the NT until 2011.
Following the closure of the live trade in mid 2011, Austrex employed Greg as one of the first ICWP positions based in Jakarta. With the heart of a true cattleman and the comprehensive understanding of the beef industry and culture of Indonesia, nobody is better qualified to monitor and support customers than Greg. No one else has such an intimate knowledge of the back roads and back doors of the Indonesian cattle industry. He is just as comfortable speaking with the CEO as he is to the feedlot staff cleaning the pens or the street vendors feeding the truck drivers.
Importers greatly appreciate Greg’s communication skills and cultural diplomacy. Unfortunately, people with this background of cattle and culture are as rare as they are valuable.
My only criticism of the ICWP is that its budget is limited and there are not enough Greg Smith’s to go around.