Westpac spotlights rural economic future

Beef Central, 10/11/2011

Westpac is putting Australia’s rural economic future on the top of the agenda with the launch of a series of national Agribusiness Know-how Forum.

The major Australian lender will engage the expertise of a panel of speakers and tour them to six locations across regional Australia. The focus will be to ensure the support of Australian agribusiness.

The Forum will start in Rockhampton on November 29 and will feature former Australian Armed Forces leader, Luitenant General Peter Cosgrove as the keynote speaker.

During his time as Chief of the Defence Force, General Cosgrove travelled to and toured many parts of regional Australia and developed a strong connection with regional Australia. He also spent many months working with local communities in north Queensland coordinating the Cyclone Larry recovery taskforce in 2006.

“The divide between bush and city remains. People nowadays have a tendency to focus only on the issues effecting Australia’s major cities. This preoccupation prevents us from thinking about those living in regional Australia and the challenges they face on a daily basis,” General Cosgrove said.

“These forums will provide us with the opportunity to focus on those living in regional Australia as they are the life-blood of this nation,” he said.

James Shugg, Westpac’s London based senior economist, will provide an overview of the current global economic climate and what primary producers can expect in the months ahead.

The Rockhampton Westpac Agribusiness Know-how Forum will also feature presentations from

  • David Pearse, managing director RMWilliams Agricultural Holdings
  • Geoff Murphy, BRW listed Rockhampton businessman
  • Tim Horan, ex-Wallaby
  • Rupert McCall, renowned poet and
  • Laurel Papworth, social media expert.


Australian designer Wayne Cooper will be joined by television personality Catriona Rowntree, and together they will preview Wayne’s upcoming collection at an exclusive cocktail reception, and an invitation only gala dinner will be held to mark the end of the Rockhampton Forum.

Westpac Chief Executive, Regional Commercial & Agribusiness Graham Jennings said the Westpac Agribusiness Know-how Forums would be a memorable and important event series for regional Australia.

"Australians have always relied on farmers to deliver 11 percent of the nation’s export earnings, despite devastating drought, other natural disasters and the more recent issues such as live export bans. The Australian farmer consistently produces $32 billion worth of food exports per year."

“We are proud to launch the Westpac Knowhow Forum in Australia's beef capital, Rockhampton. The September 2011 Westpac and Charles Sturt University Agribusiness Index indicates that Queensland beef performance returned to positive territory for the first time in 12 months, which was largely influenced by climatic conditions and consumer demand,” Mr Jennings said.

The Rockhampton forum will also be host to the first workshop of the “Blueprint for Australian Agriculture," a joint initiative between the National Farmers Federation and Westpac.

The Blueprint is designed to outline the role of farming and agriculture in Australia over the next 40 years. It aims to address the challenges the sector must overcome to achieve enduring growth.

All stakeholders from within agriculture will be invited to take part in the discussions to help shape the future of the farming sector.

Each of the six Westpac Agribusiness knowhow Forums will include a full-day program of seminars, launched with a cocktail function and concluding with a gala dinner. In addition, the NFF will host further “Town Hall” meetings on the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture in the Northern Territory and Tasmania early in 2012.

Forum Locations (cocktail function held evening prior):

  • Rockhampton  30 Nov 2011
  • Toowoomba  8 March 2012
  • Perth  29 March 2012
  • Wagga Wagga  5 Apri 2012
  • Shepparton  19 April 2012
  • Adelaide  3 May 2012.


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