Meat & Livestock Australia managing director Richard Norton is delivering on his pledge to work more closely with grassroots levy payers, launching a roadshow in western central and northern Queensland yesterday designed to engage with stakeholders over levies and how funds are spent on R&D.
This month’s Queensland circuit will precede similar regional meetings in southern states early next year, he told Beef Central yesterday.
Consultative meetings in some of the state’s key levy-payer regions will begin in Rockhampton on Wednesday 22 October; followed by Charters Towers (23 October); Georgetown (24 October); Longreach (27 October); Cloncurry (28 October) and finishing in Roma on Wednesday, 29 October.
While levy and R&D discussion is likely to take place at MLA’s upcoming annual general meeting a fortnight later in Sydney on November 13, Mr Norton said it was important to “take the issues to the stakeholders in their own back yards.”
“It’s an expensive, three-day exercise to get from Georgetown to Sydney for an AGM, and home again,” he said.
The regional meetings would provide an opportunity, at a more convenient local level, for producers to raise any concerns they might have around how their levy was being spent.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with Queensland producers directly to discuss MLA’s new direction and providing clearer transparency around how the levy is spent,” he said.
“The meetings are a chance for producers to learn more about the changes at MLA, where their levy is going, and what the value is, and I encourage them attend and to voice any questions or concerns they have.”
He said MLA was committed to investing in the long-term productivity and profitability of Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers to deliver lasting benefits to industry, and by meeting face-to-face with levy payers, offered the chance to provide clearer transparency around where each and every levy dollar was spent.
Proposed new consultation model
The meetings will also provide an opportunity for MLA to gain feedback on a new consultation model to give levy payers a greater say in how their R&D levy is spent.
The process came out of MLA’s recent internal LPI review, together with feedback from the Senate Inquiry into grassfed levies.
Out of that has emerged a model where the ultimate goal for MLA will be a focus only on grassroots R&D projects, or projects that come out of the Meat Industry Strategic Plan.
Fundamentally, this means projects that the industry says it wants to see executed, rather than based on decisions made by consultants or others.
“Operationalising the new approach to industry consultation continues to be a high priority,” Mr Norton said.
“I am continuing to listen to levy payers and industry to develop a future-looking organisation that delivers value to the farm-gate, and MLA is committed to delivering the support and services required by industry into the future,” he said, in a statement issued this afternoon.
Mr Norton said the R&D/levy roadshow starting in regional Queensland next week, and rolling-out in other states early next year, would become an annual occurrence, to make sure the service delivery company stays in touch with grassroots producer sentiment. The meetings will be led either by Richard Norton himself, or a member of MLA’s senior executive team.
The roadshow would also provide the opportunity to engage in other meetings with local and regional groups and stakeholders such as the North Australian Beef Research Council’s Regional Beef Research Committees and state farming organisations, but the primary focus would be on grassroots levy payers themselves.
“It’s all about being in front of levy payers and being accountable. Too my mind this is the only way to get MLA back on path, and restore the confidence of levy payers in what’s happening,” Mr Norton said.
The Queensland meetings are open to all livestock producers and will include lunch.
- More information about times and venues can be obtained by clicking here.
- Registrations can be made by contacting coordinator Janine King, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 0419 735 542.
- MLA has placed an advertisement with Beef Central designed to encourage attendance at the regional Qld meetings. Click here to view.
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