Press conference in Rockhampton, QLD


SUBJECTS: Beef Australia 2024

BRYCE CAMM - BEEF AUSTRALIA CHAIRMAN: Look, today is a really exciting day in that we are 357 days away from opening the gates to what will be Rockhampton’s great opportunity to again host Beef Australia 2024.

JOURNALIST: And what are some of the preparations over the next 12 months?

BRYCE CAMM: Look, so the team of Beef Australia have been committed over the last couple of years off the back of a very, very successful Beef ’21 where we welcomed some over 115,000 people through the gates here in Rockhampton, an event that delivered over $94 million to the local economy and, again, more than $70 million to the state. An event that was crowned the greatest tourism event both here in the state of Queensland but nationally as well, something that Rockhampton and the Capricornia region should be immensely proud.

Off the back of that event the team of Beef Australia have been working ferociously in the background to pull together what will be a spectacular event celebrating both this region but also a great Australian industry in the Australian beef sector.

JOURNALIST: My understanding is we’re going to be getting some significant visitation from not just across the country but across the world. Can you elaborate on that a little?

BRYCE CAMM: Absolutely. One of the great aspects of being able to host the event next year is that, again, we can welcome back our international guests and friends to Beef Australia. For a long time, this event has had a strong international contingent that some and visit, and it will be one of the mainstays of the platform of the offering is, again, welcoming our international community to Rockhampton and the region.

JOURNALIST: I think someone once told me that the population of Rocky booms lie, like, a million [indistinct], heads of cattle. Is there any kind of truth to how many, you know, how many cows we’re going to be getting?

BRYCE CAMM: Undoubtedly it is a big event in terms of attendance. Our team is looking for more than 120,000 people to come through a gate during the week. But it is a spectacle of the Australian industry in terms of the beef cattle supply chain right across the length and breadth of it. And it is, the spectacle, some call it the Olympics of beef cattle showing. We will host some over 7,000 heads of cattle here for the event at one of the greatest exhibitions of cattle in the world. 

JOURNALIST: How do you, sort of, manage all that cattle as well in the town?

BRYCE CAMM: Look, we manage it with a team of fantastic people that bring together – that roll up their lives to deliver Beef Australia. We were out meeting with some of those stud producers this morning that are already preparing cattle for next year’s spectacle. And it is also the great volunteer body. We have over 300 volunteers sign up from around the country and around this region to help support Beef Australia. And we, again, look forward to helping them, you know, welcome our guests.

JOURNALIST: And it’s not just cattle, is it? It’s also people are showing off their meat and cooking and stuff like that?

BRYCE CAMM: We talk about Beef Australia welcoming the entire beef community. So, if you’re right from those that are deeply involved with the production of high-quality Australian beef through to those that just enjoy a really great juicy steak. Beef Australia is the event for you. And some of the great additions that we’re bringing to the event in ’24 are around the launch of Meat Street at a reduced entry price in the afternoons to really allow our local host city and region to embrace the great entertainment and the great food offerings that Beef Australia will deliver.

JOURNALIST: There’s been a push lately for locals to open up their homes if they can. How has that been going?

BRYCE CAMM: Absolutely. Rocky has really embraced our recent launch with Airbnb. It - undoubtedly accommodation and bringing more people to Beef Australia has - is one of our challenges, but like the beef industry itself, we take those challenges and turn them into great opportunities. And I’m so pleased to say that over a million people have viewed and embraced the campaign around beef and Airbnb with people opening up their homes. And it really talks to what a fantastic host city that Rockhampton is, our famous beef capital, in people turning on the hospitality for what will be the greatest Beef ever in one year’s time.

JOURNALIST: Still looking for more?

BRYCE CAMM: Absolutely. I was just talking with our good friend the mayor. He says he’s got a beach house there that he’s going to open up. So, I might be jumping on that quickly.

JOURNALIST: If you’re not in the industry and, you know, there are some of us who don’t eat red meat, what is there on offer for those people?

BRYCE CAMM: Look, again, I can’t emphasise that Beef Australia is for the whole community, and it is one of the mainstays of the planning event in ’24 is that. And the board and our team have a view that this is an incredible, iconic Australian event that everyone should come to once in their lives. And so that’s why we have put such an offering around entertainment and the food offerings to ensure that the whole community can come and be a part of this terrific event.

JOURNALIST: Can you give us any sneak peeks as to this entertainment you’ve mentioned a couple of times?

BRYCE CAMM: Look, there will be more to come around our launch tonight. But invariably off the back of the highly successful, you know, cultural example with our partnership with Opera Queensland in 2021, again, the team is working on some great opportunities to deliver an entertainment and enjoyment spectacle for our community in ’24.

JOURNALIST: Just on the accommodation too, have you guys already seen that accommodations are booked out around Rocky a year in advance already?

BRYCE CAMM: Undoubtedly, you know, accommodation is tight for Beef Australia. But that’s why the team is so committed to bringing other offerings, to allow more people to come and embrace this great event and this great sector and this great region. So that’s, you know, through camping, through our spectacle with Airbnb and more offerings is really important to allow additional important to come and be a part of this great event and this great industry.

JOURNALIST: Has there been any more talk about potential charter flights from other cities?

BRYCE CAMM: Yeah, absolutely. We’re in great – one of our great partners, you know, discussions there to fly in guests from other cities and regions and that we can also back end those flights in taking tour groups to other regions and aspects of the beef industry. So, we will be announcing that in due course.

And I think the big message is that the Beef Australia ticketing will go live in October of this year, and those will be the points in time when those travel and accommodation issues, that people can get involved in that.

JOURNALIST: Tony, do you want to have a chat?

TONY WILLIAMS - ROCKHAMPTON MAYOR: Yeah, thanks very much. Tony Williams, Rockhampton Regional Council. The countdown is on for Beef 2024, and something that the whole community is really looking forward it. I’d like to welcome Senator Murray Watt to Rockhampton, our true local senator, and our local MPs, Brittany Lauga and Barry O’Rourke.

This is a fantastic announcement that we’re on the countdown to Beef 2024 to what I believe is Australia’s premier beef event. Being the beef capital it’s something that we hold very proudly and, you know, this event really does put us on the map as far as, you know, being the beef capital and one we’re truly supportive of.

We see that the event is going to be quite spectacular this year, and Rockhampton Regional Council through the Beef Australia Board and their team are happily working together in bringing this event of the best and make it bigger and better than what it’s been in years before. So, it’s something there that we believe is a great partnership and one that we’ve signed an MOU with the Beef Australia Board and one that Rockhampton Regional Council is very supportive of in making it a whole-of-community event. Like we heard from Bryce, the chairman, that it’s something there we want the whole community to be involved in, in Beef 2024.

So really looking forward to what this event is going to mean to the region. A boost to our economy, all three level of government working together. It’s a fantastic opportunity there to, you know, put the [indistinct] sector high in the local community and across Australia and across the world.

JOURNALIST: What are some of the logistics, I guess, that council are working on already for the event?

TONY WILLIAMS: Yeah, look, announcements will be further coming forward, but working on the showgrounds master plan has been the big thing that the board and the council have been working on, and there’ll be some further announcements around that.

But I’d also say local entertainment and, you know, the logistics around getting transport in and out to the showgrounds will be all the work that’s being undertaken currently and over the next 12 months to make sure it’s as streamlined as we possible can. Opening up some spaces where we can have some camping opportunities and making sure that, you know, the entertainment, that we’re supportive of the beef event in that space too, like we do with a number of our events, making it great for the whole community and people and visitors to the town and the region. It’s a great boost to our economy where we see that investment by the other levels of government broadly spent across the region and to the businesses and the retail shops and the hotels and motels. It’s great for the town and one that we’re very proud of and one we want to continue with in years to come.

JOURNALIST: How much are you hoping to get into the local economy, I guess, just from this event?

TONY WILLIAMS: Yeah, look, I haven’t got the data on that. Happy to get that detail. But ait is a huge boost with the investment from those other levels of government. That’s many times more than that that comes into the local economy. And it’s something there that we’re keen to see supported going forward. So, it’s a great event. Again, I’d like to commend the Beef Australia Board and their team, all the work that goes on in the background. There’s quite an amount of work that’s there but Rockhampton Regional Council and our team are happy to partner with the Beef Australia Board and team to bring this event off and make sure it’s the best that we possibly can produce.

JOURNALIST: I guess with a big event like this as well, what does that bring to the region as well?

TONY WILLIAMS: Yeah, look, and again with the largest herd in Australia having the Beef Australia event is, you know, the premier event, and I believe it’s one that we tag as the best event in Australia. It really does mean a lot to our economy and the local producers and the manufacturers and also the processors. It’s something there that really does boost the whole region. And when they’re talking about international visitors coming back this year – next year, sorry, for the next event, that’s going to be a great boost. And what that means globally to those producers and those markets is something there that I’m sure the board and the governments are working on to strengthen that supply chain going forward.

JOURNALIST: Murray, you’re up.

MURRAY WATT: Okay, no problem. Well, it’s great to be back in Rockhampton for what I think is a really exciting milestone, being one year away from Beef Week. I know I’m really excited about Beef Week being a year away, having been to the last Beefs here in Rocky. And can I congratulate Bryce and all of his team for already the hard work that’s going on to put this event on, and great to join my mates – Tony Williams, the mayor; Brittany and Barry as well, really good to have you. And I recognise the contributions the state government is making for this important event as well.

I’m really here today to demonstrate the Albanese government’s support for Central Queensland and for our beef industry. We’ve made a real point since being elected of making sure that we’re delivering to all of Queensland, including the communities here in Central Queensland, whether it be delivering the Rocky Ring Road, which, of course, we’ve begun early works on, the extra funding for local roads that we announced yesterday and about $5 million of that will go to councils just in Central Queensland alone, but also getting behind really important events for this region, such as Beef Week.

And as Bryce has said, I think you have to go to Beef Week to actually see, hear and understand it for yourself about what a big deal it is for this industry and for this region. I remember the first time I went to Beef Week – which is two times ago – I was surprised by the scale of the event, the range of the activities that were underway. And it doesn’t matter whether you grow the cattle like the ones that we saw this morning, whether you’re a meat processing worker, whether you’re in the research and development side of beef or you just like eating steak, there’s something there for everyone at Beef Week, and I’d really encourage people from this region and all of the country and overseas to get behind it.

So, we’re really excited to be partnering with Beef Australia. We went to the election with a commitment of $6 million for this event from the federal government. We honoured that in the last budget in October and we’re back here again today. So, this is all about delivering to central Queensland, delivering to the beef industry, and we’re really looking forward to all being there once the show gets underway.

JOURNALIST: Obviously as the Agriculture Minister there has been a lot in the cattle industry over the last 12 to 18 months with a lot of risk and disease internationally. That’s nothing that you’re concerned about heading into Beef 2024?

MURRAY WATT: No, I mean I think there’s another example of some of the work that we’ve been doing as a relatively new government with the beef industry to keep it strong, to keep it supporting regional communities and to keep it bringing in those really important export dollars. I think – we were talking about this this morning – there were real shockwaves that went through this industry in July last year when foot and mouth disease reached Bali. That was week 5 in the job for me, so it was pretty big shockwaves through our government as well. But we worked really closely with the industry to keep the industry safe, to keep those trade doors open. And as a result of that, of course, Australia remains free of foot and mouth disease.

We’ve been pouring a lot more money into biosecurity protection since we were elected. And I’ve been fighting for even more in the run-up to the budget next week. We’ll have to wait and see what’s there in the end, but we want to keep working really closely with the industry. We’re confident that we’ve got the processes and the programs in place to keep Australia disease free. But the risks do keep growing and it requires effort from all of us. So, we’ve all got a role to play in making sure we stay disease free.

JOURNALIST: What are some of the biosecurity measures that are going to be in place? Like, has that been decided yet, for Beef 2024?

MURRAY WATT: It’s probably best if I get the organisers to tell you exactly what they’ve got in mind. But, again, I was talking with Simon, the CEO of Beef Australia, just before about – and Russell, one of the board members - about some of the steps that the Brisbane Exhibition had taken last year – putting down foot mats and other things like that. And unfortunately, because of the foot and mouth disease scare that we had last year we did see some exhibitors pull out of the Brisbane Exhibition last year, and that shows the kind of risks that we can be facing and the concern that people have heading into events like Beef Week here in Rockhampton.

But probably it would be best if I hand over to one of the local organisers on that point. Is there anything else you wanted me to cover off on?

JOURNALIST: Just a little bit more on the federal perspective. Bryce was saying that it’s going to be the first in a couple of years that we’ll be able to, you know, invite international people back post COVID. How important is it that these big events are attracting people to the country now, even though we probably opened up quite a while ago?

MURRAY WATT: I think you cannot underestimate the importance of these kinds of events in boosting our trade and our international reputation. And I remember walking around Beef Week last time with Grant and we were reflecting on the fact that it was a bit of a shame to miss out on those international participants. It was still a very successful event, but obviously it’s going to be even better to have those international trade partners and friends back here having face-to-face meetings.

These kind of events literally see trade deals done between producers and other people in the supply chain and overseas customers. And there’s nothing better than that face-to-face contact, which is what we’re going to be able to have here again in Beef next year. All good? Thanks.

SIMON IRWIN: Welcome. Simon Irwin, Chief Executive Officer of Beef Australia.

JOURNALIST: Thanks. Just on biosecurity measures, what have you guys sort of started implementing for Beef 2024 already?

SIMON IRWIN: We’ve stood up our biosecurity committee. So, this isn’t something that an organisation we decide what to do. What we do is follow the best advice at the time. And you would see by the last time there was an issue arose with foot and mouth in Indonesia, for instance, things can change very quickly. So rather than us decide what’s best, we will follow the advice from our biosecurity committee, which includes people from the ag departments, from vets and from the broader industry as well. So, we’re certainly interested in promoting and protecting the health of everybody who attends, but also all the livestock that are there as well.

JOURNALIST: I know on some farms you have to, like, check in and sign in. Will people have to do that or use foot mats or anything like that?

SIMON IRWIN: It will be whatever the committee comes up with at the time. Certainly everybody had to check in with Covid last time. That’s not such an issue. And I think with biosecurity, we go by what the threat is at the moment. So every week you get an update from the department of what’s happening. I’m sure everybody here can subscribe to it, if you’d like. But we will just take it very seriously but we’ll take it when the time comes and do what we’re told to do.