ONE of Australia’s most successful and respected cattle producers has called on the incoming Federal Government to get behind the development of northern Australia, including through tax incentives to encourage greater investment and participation in the region.
Peter and Jane Hughes’s Hughes Pastoral and Georgina Pastoral companies today run close to 200,000 cattle across almost four million hectares of properties stretching from New South Wales to the Northern Territory.
Their herd includes what is thought to be the largest privately-owned Wagyu cattle business in the world, with 50,000 purebred cows.
As the latest episode of The Weekly Grill podcast featuring an interview with Mr Hughes demonstrates, the story of the growth of their family cattle business is one built on the old-fashioned values of hard work, patience and discipline, and a simple philosophy of looking after land, people and livestock.
Most important policy fix
Asked by host Kerry Lonergan if there was one decision or policy he would like to see come from Government to help the beef industry, Mr Hughes pointed immediately to the huge potential that exists to develop northern Australia.
“Northern Australian, because of our smaller population, has been neglected for so long, but we really have to put a lot of effort into developing the north in roads and infrastructure,” he said.
“I heard a very good suggestion the other day where there should be some sort of tax incentive for people who are 500km or 300km away from a major centre.
“And you don’t have to have it just in the north, you could have it all over Australia.
“I think you could have it along the Birdsville Track or along the Nullabor, somewhere it is just as tough as it is in the north.
“We really need to get developed in the north, there is so much potential up there, so much water.”
Investment was needed in infrastructure and roads to kick-start growth.
“It is like the chicken and the egg, for the cotton industry to get going up there you need cotton gins.
“It is not much use producing cotton at Kununurra to cart it all the way to Emerald to get processed and wrecking our good roads.
“That is a good road, but there are so many more roads with long distances that badly need bitumen.”
Mr Hughes was among an early group of cattle producers to trial Wagyu cattle in Australia in the 1990s, inspired by his good friend, neighbour and Wagyu industry pioneer Wally Rea.
At the recent Australian Wagyu Association conference in Melbourne Mr Hughes was inducted into the Australian Wagyu industry Hall of Fame, in acknowledgement of the immense contribution he and his family and team have made to the growth in Australian Wagyu industry.
In his interview with Kerry Lonergan, Peter discusses his early days in the cattle industry, his involvement in the Wagyu industry, the rise of carbon farming and environmental and animal welfare activism, and his views on the simple principles required to maximise success in the northern cattle industry.
To listen to or download the full Weekly Grill interview click here