RESPECTED Central Queensland cattleman Graeme Acton passed away in hospital in Brisbane on Friday evening, after suffering serious injuries as a result of a campdrafting accident last weekend.
He was 63.
Graeme’s horse fell while he was competing at the Clarke Creek campdraft between Mackay and Rockhampton last Friday afternoon, and he sustained serious head and spinal injuries.
He spent the last week in Royal Brisbane hospital under intensive care, after being airlifted from Rockhampton Base Hospital last Saturday.
Graeme’s wife Jennie and family were at his bedside when he passed away last evening.
Graeme was a keen campdraft enthusiast, and the Actons hosted one of Australia’s largest annual campdrafts at their showcase Paradise Lagoons Station outside Rockhampton each year.
Together with his brother, Evan, Graeme built Acton Land & Cattle Co into one of Australia’s largest private beef industry operations, with eight properties scattered across Central and Northern Queensland totalling about 150,000 cattle.
He was a passionate, forthright and at times outspoken advocate for the broader beef industry, sometimes pushing against the establishment; at other times, working hard to defend the industry’s established structures, systems and personnel.
Through his vision for integrated beef production he built Acton SuperBeef into a large, well-regarded beef brand on the domestic and international stage.
He saw potential in pursuing access to frontier beef markets like China long before it became fashionable, and was responsible for some of the first commercial-scale beef shipments into the market ten years ago. He lived long enough to see China explode into a 150,000 tonne per year market for Australia, with huge growth potential yet to be tapped.
Messages of sympathy and support for the Acton family have lit-up across social media on Saturday morning.
Here’s an example, written by fellow Santa Gertrudis breeder, Rob Sinnamon, from Yuilgibar Santa Stud in NSW:
RIP Graeme Acton. A leader, mentor, friend and amongst the greatest contributors to not only the Australian Beef Industry,but to the growth of Rural Australia and business Economy.
Passionate and loyal to his family and beliefs,Graeme stood head and shoulders ahead as a Great Australian.Our thoughts remain with his wife ,Jennie and the Acton Family.
Facebook messaging highlighted the fact that flags were flying at half-mast at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Hame in Longreach yesterday, where Graeme was deputy chairman.
Funeral announcements will be announced in coming days. Sources close to the Acton family anticipate that a service will be held in Rockhampton.
Leaders pay tribute to Graeme Acton
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
In a statement to media on Saturday Prime Minister Tony Abbott described Mr Acton as a great and proud man.
“He was a proud Queenslander and a great Australian,” Mr Abbott said.
“Graeme contributed so much to agriculture in our country, in particular to the cattle industry around Rockhampton where the Actons have been farming for four generations.”
Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce
Federal Agriculture Minister Barnabt Joyce issued the following statement on Saturday morning:
It is with deep sadness to learn of the death of Australian cattleman Graeme Acton.
I, along with many thousands of Australians, today share a deep sense of loss with the passing of a hero of the cattle industry and a fierce advocate for agriculture and the future of our nation.
Graeme possessed a unique ability to communicate with people irrespective of their background or social standing and united tens of thousands through his love of the art form of campdrafting.
Just weeks ago in Rockhampton Graeme pulled no punches letting me know his views on how we can do things better and his words of wisdom were not lost on me.
We are truly indebted to this great Australian, for the blessing he has been as a father, husband, friend, pioneer and great captain of agricultural industry in Australia.
My thoughts go especially to his wife Jennie and his children Tom, Hayley, Victoria and Laura.
May he rest in peace.
Queensland Premier Cambell Newman
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he was truly shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Graeme Acton.
He was an outstanding character who was much loved by all.
A hard working Queenslander, he devoted his life to the land and growing the cattle industry in this State.
He has left a legacy for both rural and regional Queensland and I know his passing will be felt by all Queenslanders.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very sad time.
Queensland minister for Agriculture John McVeigh
Queensland agriculture minister John McVeigh said the State’s beef industry had lost a great leader with the death of Graeme Acton.
Mr McVeigh said Graeme Acton headed one of Queensland’s largest and most successful family-run cattle grazing and beef marketing operations.
“A leader, with tremendous passion, he was always on the front foot with ideas and ventures to progress the industry he loved.”
“Graeme enjoyed the mateship and confidence of many, right across the beef industry and right up to the Prime Minister.
“He will be sadly missed. Our heartfelt sympathies go to his wife Jennie and children, and to his brothers Allen and Evan and sister Elizabeth and their families.”
Australian Agricultural Co chairman, Don McGauchie
Australian Agricultural Co chairman Donald McGauchie yesterday paid tribute to Queensland cattleman Graeme Acton, who died on Friday evening following an earlier horseriding accident.
“Graeme was a towering figure in the beef industry, a true cattleman whose passion
and advocacy for rural Australia was always on show,” he said.
“He was one of the pioneers of producers promoting Australian beef to overseas
markets, as well as a tireless contributor to rural Australian causes.
“The beef world is the poorer for his passing. He had many friends at AA Co and our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Jennie and his family.”