Vale John Purcell

James Nason, 03/12/2015
Former PRA president Joanne Rea awards John Purcell with life membership in 2012.

Former PRA president Joanne Rea awards John Purcell with life membership in 2012.

The Australian cattle industry is mourning the loss of one of its most respected leaders following the passing overnight of former Cattleman’s Union of Australia and Property Rights Australia president John Purcell OAM in Rockhampton.

The Central Queensland cattleman lived by the motto “stand your ground” and was widely respected as a steadfast and fearless advocate for the cattle industry and a determined and fearsome adversary for those on opposing sides of debates.

“In his heyday at the Cattleman’s Union he was a renowned orator,” long time friend and CU and PRA colleague Ron Bahnish recalls.

“He could command an audience, and when chairing meetings of up to 1200 people it was noted that he had ability to address near everyone from the stage by first name.”

Mr Purcell was an inaugural member of the Cattleman’s Union and was twice chairman of the organisation, which merged with UGA and GrainGrowers in 2000 to form AgForce.

As a leader of the CU one of his notable achievements was the role he played in negotiating the Cape York Heads of Agreement. “Reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians must be founded on justice, if it is to be durable,” he said at the time.

He also served on the Cattle Council of Australia and was a president of Property Rights Australia.

In 2012 Mr Purcell was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal for his service to agripolitics, particularly the Cattleman’s Union of Australia and Property Rights Australia.

Mr Purcell drew the property “Yatton” near Marlborough in a ballot in 1960 and developed it over the past 55 years while also devoting large amounts of time to representing the cattle industry on regional, state and national issues.

A more in-depth tribute to Mr Purcell will be published in coming days


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  1. David Palmer, 18/12/2015

    A belated comment on John Purcell; the agripolitical scene in Queensland during the nineties was robust to say the least but John’s commitment and loyalty to CCA was very evident. His support for staff and his determination toward real reform for the national industry was greatly appreciated; and gave credence to advocacy around Canberra.
    My condolences to his family. John was a great servant to the cattle industry.

  2. Barry Hughes, 07/12/2015

    The Gulf Cattleman’s Association salutes the visionary work done and outcomes delivered to the cattle industry by John. Your legacy will long be remembered.
    Barry Hughes.

  3. Christopher Leeds, 05/12/2015

    You are a great example to follow John thank you for your support over the years God bless you and deepest condolences to your family you are forever with us.

  4. Kev Roberts, 04/12/2015

    Over the last 30 years that I have been involved in the cattle industry John Purcell stands out as one of the most dedicated advocates for the beef industry and of course his passion for land rights. I have had the good fortune to be on the same side of some debates with John, and faced the challenge of taking on the opposing view. At all times he stuck to the topic and afterwards was prepared to try to understand the difference in views.
    Best wishes

  5. John Crerar, 04/12/2015

    The Cattlemans Union was the most successful grass roots organization I know of thanks to John Purcell and other forward thinking individuals. John worked tirelessly for the last 40 years for the industry he was passionate about, sometimes at great cost to himself. Thank you John for your friendship, it was a privilege. Rest in peace
    John Crerar

  6. Anita Lethbridge, 04/12/2015

    John was a tireless worker for his industry. Rest in peace John and sincere condolences to your family.

  7. donald brown, 03/12/2015

    well done John a great example of selfless commitment to others particularly the countries cattle people

  8. John Cooper, 03/12/2015

    My condolences to John Purcell’s family.I was fortunate to know John quite well during his time with the Cattle Council and then as chairman of Property Rights Australia,he was a very strong but fair man to deal with and distinguished himself as Chairman of PRA with his tenacity in fighting for his members against some of the most difficult cases brought down by the Government against them.
    He will be remembered well by all those who knew him.

    John Cooper

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