Wednesday, 12 May 2021
I rise to say thanks and congratulations to the Beef Australia committee, who last week put on the best beef week ever. It was a fantastic job from Bryce Camm and his team. Beef week is hosted in Rockhampton every three years, and it's getting bigger and better with every version. Despite all the challenges of COVID, of international travel bans, of random state border closures, the Beef Australia team put on an excellent event in Rockhampton last week. It was extremely well attended—in fact, a record 115,000 people came through the gate at Rockhampton last week, and I know my colleague Senator Susan McDonald was one of those people who joined many other Liberal and National members of parliament there for the celebrations. I should recognise that Senator McDonald has previously been a director of the Beef Australia board and helped run Beef Australia, and her legacy was on show last week.
There were 63 tonnes of beef consumed last week. To put that in context, if they were all divided up into a 250-gram rump, that would be 250,000 steaks. Remember those figures: 115,000 people through the gate and 250,000 steaks, so basically everybody had two steaks while they were there at beef week. I think Susan and I probably batted above the average during the week. No-one went home hungry from beef week. There were 3.6 million cattle sold last week at beef week, an enormous number, and there were 5,000 cattle on show. I congratulate all the winners showing their cattle. The carcase comp was run by Nolan, and there were many people who won prizes last week.
There was an enormous amount of positivity. I'm sure Senator McDonald would agree with me that one of the great things about beef week last week wasn't just the number of people there—I've never seen Rocky busier. We had traffic jams. My kids were late to school one day because of one. It was amazing to see how many people were around. It wasn't just the people; it was also how positive the outlook is for the industry, which is fantastic to see. Of those 6.3 million cattle sold, the average price of grain-fed and grass-fed cattle is over $2,000 a head, which, from a few years ago, is up four or five times, as Senator McDonald knows, in terms of value. That is obviously playing a big part in terms of the positivity in the industry. There have been challenges there with China delisting a number of abattoirs, but there continues to be such strong demand for the high-quality protein that our cattle industry specialises in, and I think there's great confidence that such demand will continue, providing governments here in this country support our great beef industry.
I should also reflect that this month of May, when beef week was hosted, marks 10 years since the Four Corners live cattle documentary which ultimately led to the disgraceful decision of the then Labor government to cut off at the knees our beef industry across the whole country, making a knee-jerk reaction in banning the live cattle trade. It was an absolute stuff up, with almost zero, as we've seen through court documents, consultation or consideration of the impact of such a decision. It didn't just affect the live cattle industry; it destroyed the entire cattle market across the country. It's so great to see that the Labor Party could not kill the cattle industry despite their best efforts 10 years ago. We're back on our feet. We've recovered from that decision, and it's great to see the positivity in the industry now.
In fact, last year, in positive news, the Federal Court officially ruled that the Labor Party engaged in public misfeasance as a result of that decision. They ruled in favour of a class action that was taken by live cattle producers, and the government, with urging from Senator McDonald and others from the National Party here, did not challenge that result, and, eventually, those impacted by Labor's live cattle ban will be compensated for that impact.
It's such great news to see beef week go well. If you missed out last week, don't fear: there will be another one in three years time—hopefully with international borders reopened. It will be bigger and better again. It has become a great event not just to celebrate the Australian beef industry but to get together not only with our competitors in other countries, like Brazil and North America, but with our customers in Japan, Korea and the Middle East. It's such a great place. Rockhampton becomes the centre of the beef world every three years.