Former AusMeat chairman and processing industry identity Tony Wharton passed away last month after a battle with cancer. He was 78.
A stalwart of the Australian meat and livestock industry, Mr Wharton was cremated privately, attended by his wife Carolyn and family.
He started his industry career in the New Zealand meat processing sector in 1964 progressing through the ranks before migrating to Australia in 1980 to take on the role of general manager of the Queensland Government owned Cannon Hill abattoir in Brisbane. His responsibilities extended over time to include other government-owned abattoirs at Ipswich, Townsville, Toowoomba, and Bundaberg.
In the same year Tony became a member of CSIRO and his passion for research saw him in several roles, starting as chairman (Cannon Hill) Meat Research in 1985 and joining the Meat Research Corporation in 1985. He took on the role of acting chair in 1991 and later chairman through to 1998, when MRC (the industry’s meat research arm) merged with AMLC (marketing and market development) to form Meat & Livestock Australia.
In 1998 Mr Wharton also chaired the AQIS Industry Task Force and became a board member of Australian Meat Technology in 1993.
In parallel to his passion for science and research, he was involved in numerous industry advocacy roles. He chaired the Queensland Meat Association from 1988 to 1993 and became a member of the National Export Council of the body then known as the Meat and Allied Trades Federation of Australia, from 1994 to 1996.
Mr Wharton also served for four years on the Meat Industry Council to 1998, and with the incorporation in 1998 of the Australian Meat Processors Council (AMPC), he was appointed as a director, serving from 1999 to 2002, during which time he represented AMPC as a director on the AusMeat board.
In 2002 when the late Keith Gooley retired from the role of AusMeat chairman, Mr Wharton was appointed chair, serving for eleven years. He also chaired the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee (the industry standards forum convened under the auspices of AusMeat, via the MOU between the Federal Government and AusMeat).
Mr Wharton supported AusMeat staff in broadening the diversification of industry services, and was the driver of the commercial activities undertaken today by AusMeat and AusQual.
In 1997, 20 years after the first Australian abattoir was AusMeat accredited, he reaffirmed that AusMeat was still driven by its original commitment to the meat and livestock industry.
Beyond his enormous contribution to industry Tony Wharton enjoyed his retirement with his family on the Gold Coast.