A young leader taken far too soon

Beef Central, 04/04/2013

The tragic loss of one of Queensland’s brightest young beef industry leaders and innovators has prompted heartfelt tributes from the State's political and industry leaders today.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman extended his deepest condolences to the family of Alexander ‘Zanda’ McDonald, who died last night from injuries sustained during an accident on his home property Devoncourt at Cloncurry. 

“This is a terribly sad time for the McDonald family and for the whole of Queensland,” Mr Newman said.

“Zanda was a wonderful man and a beef industry leader. He and his family have contributed enormously to the state and indeed the entire nation."

“He was hardworking, dynamic and generous and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Zanda’s wife Julie and four daughters.”

AgForce Queensland president Ian Burnett said Mr McDonald’s would not only be felt on a personal level by the rural sector, but also marked the loss of a visionary beef producer.

“Zanda was a true gentleman and personal friend to many throughout the industry,” Mr Burnett said.

“However, he was also one of the most innovative and driven beef producers of his generation and an outstanding advocate of agriculture.

“His exceptional skills in beef marketing and the innovative work he helped pioneer in animal welfare lead our sector and assisted in increasing the strength of the northern cattle industry.

“This is a tragic loss to all who knew him and to the beef sector as a whole.

“The willingness of Zanda to involve himself in industry issues was of benefit to all beef producers and an inspiring example of a producer willing to look beyond the farm gate,” Mr Burnett said.

“Our thoughts are with Zander’s wife Julie, their four daughters and the rest of the McDonald family at this terribly sad time.

“He was a young leader who has been taken far too soon.”

Acting Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Andrew Cripps, said Mr McDonald’s death was a tragedy for the McDonald family, the Queensland beef industry and indeed for rural Queensland.

"Zanda was following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps as a respected and innovative beef producer and beef industry leader.  He had a strong commitment to the industry and its future,” Mr Cripps said.

“His astute management of the family company, McDonald Holdings (MDH), ensured it maintained its pre-eminent position as Australia’s largest privately-owned cattle operation.

"Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt sympathies are extended to his immediate and extended family during this very difficult time.  Zanda McDonald will be sorely missed."

AACo managing director David Farley described the tragedy as a huge loss.

"Zanda was a dedicated and innovative cattleman, one of the emerging leaders of the industry. The thoughts of everyone at AACo are with his wife Julie and their children, and the whole McDonald family."

The Northern Territory Cattleman's Association said the thoughts of its members were with Zanda's family, friends and loved ones. "Agreat industry leader and an all-round fantastic bloke."

Chairman of the annual PPP conference, due to be held in Brisbane next week, Allflex Australia's Shane McManaway, said Zanda had been a long-standing and committed participant in the annual conference program, and would be deeply missed.

"The news yesterday that Zanda, one of Queensland’s most innovative beef producers and a founding member of the PPP Group, has died has brought great sadness to us all," Mr McManaway said.

"Zanda was an incredible guy, full of inspiration and well-respected for his forward-thinking and his contribution to the beef cattle industry in Australia. He was also a dear friend."

At Beef 2012 last year Zanda spoke about how, when Swifts came to Australia in 2007, former chief executive John Keir brought Junior Batista on a tour of northern Australia, and they spent a few days at Devoncourt.

Zanda got to know Junior Batista well, and was able to negotiate with him to perform a service kill for MDH at JBS abattoirs at Rockhampton and more recently at Dinmore – even though he had previously been told by Mr Keir and Ross Keane that that would be impossible.

JBS Australia director, John Berry this morning added his company's condolences over Zanda's passing, describing him as a 'true industry leader.' 

"JBS developed a strong business with Zanda and the McDonald family. He had a strong strategic focus, and was a straight talker – you always knew where you stood with him."

"The relationship between JBS and MDH was forged early in the company's history in Australia in 2007, and has been mutually beneficial," Mr Berry said.

"Zanda will be a great loss to the industry." 

The McDonald family issued a statement yesterday requesting privacy and thanking doctors and staff at Townsville Base Hospital for their care of Zanda.


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