2017 Speakers

Penelope Arthur, MC


Penelope Arthur is based at Roma and has more than 15 years experience in rural print and digital media. She was appointed editor of the Queensland Country Life in 2015 - becoming the first female in the role in the paper’s 80 year history. Penelope has a passion for news that she probably inherited from her grandfather, a former owner and editor of the Chinchilla News. Being able to combine that with living and running a business in rural Queensland makes being the QCL editor her dream job. Penelope lives on a sheep and cattle property south of Roma with her husband and their three sons.





Brindley Park ACC, Farm Tour

Australian Country Choice (ACC) is a proudly Australian owned and family operated industry leader, producing and supplying highest quality beef products to the local and export markets. Together with Australian Cattle & Beef Holdings (ACBH), our fully integrated vertical supply chain operation encompasses large scale cattle breeding, backgrounding, feedlotting and meat processing. The Company manages over 5.3 million acres carrying 265,000 cattle over across 34 operations stretching from North West Queensland through to South East Queensland. The backgrounding and breeding properties have ongoing pasture, crop and infrastructure development programs to optimise production, sustainability and maintain supply to the ACC feedlots. Our head office and state of the art meat processing facility located at Cannon Hill, Brisbane with over 1000 employees exceeds 250,000 head of cattle each year and conducts slaughtering, boning, further processing, value-adding and retail cutting and packaging.



Geoff Wagstaff, Rural Consultant

Geoff kick-started his career in the beef game in 1970 as a jackaroo. For the next ten years he worked on stations across four states, moving his way into senior jackaroo positions and overseer roles. He was then appointed stud manager of the well-known Santa Gertrudis stud at Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory. From 1979 to 2005, Geoff worked for AACo Limited as Station Manager for Avon Downs and Brunette Downs. Whilst with AACo Limited, he also held the position of General Manager, where he was responsible for all 25 of their cattle stations (approximately 500,000 head of cattle – largest in the world at the time).

In 2012 and 2013, he took on a somewhat different role as Executive Sales Manager (Northern) for Elders Limited, overseeing 22 branches in QLD, NT and WA. Currently, Geoff runs his own rural consultancy business which he established in 2005, providing expert advice to some of the largest pastoral companies across Northern Australia.


Anna Speer, CEO - AuctionsPlus

A senior business leader with a strong, broad and practical understanding of the global Agribusiness Industry. Anna has a verifiable track record revitalising underperforming operations, opening new markets and building market credibility through innovative products that ensure competitiveness in tough markets.


CEO of AuctionsPlus, Australia’s Livestock Marketplace, Anna is passionate about reshaping the livestock sector with technology and changed behaviours. She believes that with the right people, trust and a little magic, anything is possible. She attributes the AuctionsPlus growth to passionate customers that work with the AuctionsPlus team to lead the industry.


An Australian Rural Leadership Foundation graduate, Anna has completed the Australian Company Directors course and is currently completing the University of Sydney’s Global Executive MBA program.



Alf Collins Senior - CBV Brahmans

Alf has worked in the commercial and seedstock beef game since 1961, with Marlborough and Shepparton being where it all began. In 1967 he went hunting for innovation in livestock production systems, venturing overseas by himself to locations such as Egypt, Syria, England, Europe, Latin America and USA. Later that year saw Alf come back to Australia to work closely with his father and help build the family beef business. In the following years he took on an array of ag-related jobs, but mainly drew an income from the mines, to secure borrowings to purchase ‘Belah Valley’ near Marlborough. His initial herd comprised of 89 stud cows and 400 mixed cattle.


Over 30 years he built CBV (Collins Belah Valley) to consist of 10,000 head on 20,000 hectares with additional agistment country. 2011 saw division of his assets to some family members. CBV is now in build and acquire mode again, and has been very focused on equity and growth. The CBV herd is highly-respected around the world for their superior Brahman fertility genetics. Alf is big on high adaptation, high land utilisation and low input costs. In 2017, Alf was awarded the Helen Newton Turner Medal for his innovative and pioneering work in the field of animal genetics.


Jack Milbank, Founder - Bargara Brewing Co.

Jack was brought up on a mixed farming property in Zimbabwe and went on to study a Bachelor of Applied Science at The University of QLD. In 2009 Jack became the Managing Director of Hortus Technical Services, Australia’s leading independent certified laboratory and agronomic services company. In 2013 he founded the microbial biotechnology company, Biofilm Crop Protection Pty Ltd, and in 2014 founded the Bargara Brewing Company, producing craft beer and cider. He has worked in Agronomy, Biotechnology and Environmental Science related fields in Australia, Africa, India, China, USA and Europe.


As a 2006/7 Nuffield Scholar he studied "Globally competitive horticultural production processing and marketing using renewable energy". Over an eighteen month period he spent time researching best practice agronomic management, product processing, clean energy and marketing in India, New Zealand, China, UAE, UK and the US. Jack has had an active involvement in the implementation of numerous industry wide research projects and found solutions to improve the efficiency and profitability of producers.


Joy McClymont, CEO - Off The Track Training

Joy McClymont is owner of Off The Track Training Pty Ltd, which focuses on providing virtual health and fitness opportunities, guidance and resources to people who want to be a part of a supportive community and participate in a holistic fitness program from any location (home, travelling, office, paddock).


Joy lives 100km west of Longreach, QLD on a sheep and cattle station with her husband and four children. Over the past 2 years Joy McClymont has been well recognised for her achievements and initiatives, particularly through receiving Fitness Australia’s National Active Achiever Award, 2016, as well as the QRRRWN Business Leader Award, 2015 and being identified by the Regional Institute of Australia as an Online Hero, 2016.


Anthony Brick, Far North Queensland Regional Manager - AustSafe Super

Anthony Brick is the Far North Queensland Regional Manager for AustSafe Super, covering the region north of Townsville and west to the Queensland border. He has nine years’ experience in financial services of which three has been with AustSafe Super. His role as Regional Manager allows him to combine his passion for finance and numbers with his love of rural and regional Australia by being based in his home town of Atherton. Anthony loves that he can help members achieve their superannuation goals through AustSafe Super by offering his expert service to members at no extra cost and without the motivation of commissions or sales incentives.



Tony O'Mara, Central Queensland Regional Manager - AustSafe Super

Tony O’Mara is the Regional Manager for AustSafe Super in Central Queensland, based in Bundaberg he manages the region between Noosa to Rockhampton and west to Birdsville. Growing up on a grazing property in the Darling Downs region, Tony commenced a career in Financial Services in 1994, after completing his Bachelor Degree and has enjoyed various roles such as Regional Manager, Superannuation Specialist, Senior Relationship Manager, General Manager and Senior Financial Adviser, together with having operated his own successful Advice business.

As the industry super fund for regional and rural Australia, AustSafe Super has a strong commitment to rural and regional communities. The role of Regional Manager enables Tony to engage with regional and rural supply chains, focussing on his passion for all Australians to value their super, the opportunity it presents in securing their future and improving financial literacy.


Anthony Coates AM

Anthony spent over 50 years of his life at Eidsvold Station, a renowned cattle property in the North Burnett Region with a large Santa Gertrudis stud and commercial herd (~3000 head). Initially he was overseer then manager and then owner/manager following Barney Joyce’s death in 1983. In his earlier years, Anthony graduated with an honours degree in Rural Science from the University of New England in Armidale. Anthony spent 39 years as a Councillor of the Santa Gertrudis Breeders Australia Association. He has judged widely throughout Australia (including all the Royal shows), along with overseas, and has judged most breeds.

Anthony served on the Board of Management of the National Beef Recording Scheme (now known as the International Beef Recording Scheme) from 1986 until 2014. He was also a board member of the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) from 1993 to 2014, serving as chairman of the Board for the last seven years of his Board membership. Anthony’s dedicated contribution to the Australian Beef Industry has been recognised by being awarded the R W Vincent Award in 2000 and being made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours in January 2007. Anthony has a strong commitment to sharing his knowledge with others interested in the beef industry.

Tess Camm, General Manager - Signature Beef

Tess is a fifth generation grazier, and has been passionate about beef production from a young age. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Management from UQ, Tess started with Signature Beef - a vertically integrated beef company specialising in delivering product with a point of difference. She is currently the General Manager for Signature Beef, a position she has held for 15 months.

Tess often gets frustrated with the concept of primary production’s 'price taker' structure, and hence Signature Beef is constantly exploring the opportunities that exist in the supply chain post farm gate. Some of her areas of interest include discovering what adds and what evaporates value from beef’s supply chain, and how carcass utilisation can create growth and price stability for the Australian beef industry.

Damon Holmes, Manager Data Intelligence - MLA

Damon grew up in Theodore central Qld on a 13,000 acre cattle property where his family back ground about 2,500 head at any given time throughout the year. The Holmes family have a 500 head registered feedlot and sell directly to Woolworths and have been doing that for 25 years.

Damon completed his primary schooling at home in Theodore before going off to boarding school for 5 years at The Southport School. Damon then moved to Brisbane to study Economics at the Queensland University of Technology where he graduated in 2011. While Damon continues to have a deep affiliation with the land and livestock production, he has found himself working within Market Information team for Meat & Livestock Australia, based in Sydney for the past 5 years.

Carly Johnstone, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Carly is a Beef Extension Officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), based at Biloela. After graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Production Animal Science from UQ, she began her career with DAF in Emerald, providing technical assistance to a pasture research project. Upon completion of the project, Carly moved to Banana where her husband’s family run a mixed beef and grain enterprise.


In her current role, she delivers the Grazing Best Management Practices (BMP) program in the Fitzroy region and assists beef producers to improve productivity, profitability and environmental performance. Utilising her experience in Grazing Land Management and Animal Production, she is passionate about helping producers access information and technology to enhance their business.

David McLean, General Manager – RCS

David specialises in ensuring that people have the knowledge, support and inspiration to perform at their best in agriculture. He provides a refreshing combination of hands-on experience, technical knowledge, facilitation skills and high-level analysis. David is part of a fifth generation sheep and cattle grazing family from south-west Queensland, Australia. He received first class honours in a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Rural Technology.

He started his association with RCS as a client on a large time-control-grazing property between Richmond and Croydon in north Queensland. After working at a practical level with principles promoted by RCS, David started full time work as a professional advisor and educator with the company in 2007, based out of Yeppoon with Terry McCosker. He is now the General Manager of RCS. David has become a highly sought-after presenter and consultant across Australia, and increasingly in South Africa and the US.

James Walker, General Manager – Agrihive

James is a fifth-generation grazier from Longreach, the General Manager of Agrihive, a Nuffield scholar, and recently received the Kondinin Group and ABC Farmer of the Year 2017 Award for Excellence in Diversification. He is passionate about Australian family farms and in improving financial performance, especially for new entrants and for those wanting to expand.


During the drought, James and his brother developed an agri-tourism venture, ‘The Outback Yacht Club’, and James staged multiple summits aimed at attracting new ideas from outside agriculture to help solve some of the issues the industry is facing. As a result of the summits, James was awarded a project to build a financial performance tool for beef producers, hence Farmecco was developed. In recent years, James has also had the property organically accredited and completely surrounded with an exclusion fence. A large, 15 MW solar farm has commenced to stimulate the local economy and attract more income for the farm.

Gabriel Passmore – Chapman Eastway

Gabriel grew up on a beef and cropping property near Forbes in NSW’s Central West and maintains an active and evolving role in the family business. He has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University of Sydney and has worked on a number of agricultural properties, ranging from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Riverina.

Prior to joining Chapman Eastway, he was engaged in asset management for the Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management team. In his current role in corporate advisory he works across a range of industries with a specialisation in agribusiness.

Katrina Gibbs – Westpac Agribusiness

Katrina graduated from Sydney University in 2009 , with a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics (Hons).
She commenced employment with Westpac via the Graduate Program in 2010, first working as an assistant to various Agribusiness Managers, until 2012 when she took a more analytical role as an Assistant Relationship Manager in a senior portfolio.

In 2013 Katrina was selected to represent Westpac at the International One Young World Summit held in Johannesburg, which was an unforgettable experience that assist her in understanding the global leadership that Australia has in agribusiness.

In 2014 Katrina celebrated her five year milestone with Westpac by being promoted to the role of Agribusiness Manager.
Katrina now manages a diverse portfolio of Agribusiness clients across the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley.
Katrina has been, and will continue to be a strong advocate of the agricultural industry, highlighting the importance of this industry for all Australians, including corporate businesses like Westpac.

Carmen Roberts – Compass West

Life is 10% of what happens and 90% how you react to it and act upon it. Carmen is self-made; her common-sense approach to life is that all things can be achieved through effort and mastery. Her ability to see the true cause of a problem, adapt quickly and implement the right solutions, has been the foundation on which she built and continues to build her business, Compass West, based in Roma.

Carmen believes that business is the heart of the community and economy, both locally and globally. Compass West strives to deliver modern business solutions using a range of IT systems and deem success as knowing the difference they have made in their clients’ lives as they help their businesses reach their full potential.

Lauren O'Connor – CQU PhD Candidate

Lauren commenced her research career in 2007. She has completed Honours for the degree of Equine Business Management (2009) and a Master of Animal Science (2010) with the University of Sydney. She is currently completing a PhD with the Precision Livestock Management Research Group at CQUniversity. The focus of Lauren’s research has been to understand links between animal behaviour and their performance. She has used a number of autonomous data collection techniques in her research including GPS, GIS, accelerometers, audio devices and walk-over-weighing. Lauren also works for the Department of Agriculture as a beef extension officer.


PhD Thesis: Development of an automated field based solution to quantify the drinking activities of cattle in northern Australian grazing systems

Gordon Stone – ABDI

Since 1991, Gordon Stone has been a small-business owner, manager and entrepreneur – principally working in Australia's agri-sector. His company first managed red meat industry conferences and events focusing on market opportunities for producers. He was then commissioned to develop and manage the very successful Meat Profit Day concept for MLA. He has worked across most agri-sectors in Australia, Asia and the USA.

Over time he discovered a flair, passion and expertise for facilitating individuals, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporations in growing and expanding their businesses. His company, the Agri-Business Development Institute (ABDI), is now collaborating with MLA’s Donor Company, DAFQ, AgForce and mid-tier accounting firm Crowe Horwarth to roll out the Beef Business Management Program – which works with business owners and managers to educate them on business management principles and practices – rather than on production.



David Stone – ABDI

David started his career as an environmental consultant and project manager in a multinational engineering firm. He spent close to a decade there, learning the value of systems and processes to a business’ effectiveness, while also being aware of the need to be agile and adaptive at the same time. Curious by nature, David also spent several years travelling during this period. Travelling amongst different countries and cultures, he was reminded of the importance of being open-minded; often observing that just because something is commonly done one way, doesn’t mean that it’s right.

As the call of the bush and the desire for something unique grew, in 2015 David joined the Agri-Business Development Institute (ABDI) as the Operations Manager, managing the Program division, among other things. Being a family business, David has had to balance managing family dynamics with growing a business, a common yet often underplayed scenario in agriculture. One of his life mantras is “Easy choices, hard life - hard choices, easy life”, meaning that it’s important that we push ourselves out of our comfort zone to realise our potential.

Matt & Melissa George – Bovine Dynamics

In 2010, Dr Matthew George formed the consulting company ‘Bovine Dynamics’, which is presently responsible for feedlot nutrition and animal performance consultancy to 520,000 head feedlot one-time capacity, along with daily animal health and welfare of 150,000 head one-time capacity of these same feedyards. Matt grew up on an Angus property in SE regional NSW and has attained a Veterinary Science Degree, a Master’s Degree in Ruminant Nutritional Stress Physiology and a Doctorate in Meat Science. He has been involved in extensive research projects across the globe, has scientifically published in numerous fields, and interestingly was the initial Research Manager for the MLA MSA program.


Melissa George is an avid animal scientist with graduate education in meat science and veterinary infectious diseases. Melissa holds a position as a research scientist and consultant for Bovine Dynamics. Melissa is currently completing her PhD in veterinary infectious diseases and is also finishing the 2nd year of her Bachelor of Veterinary Science Honours at UQ to become a licensed veterinarian in Australia. Together they own and operate Eskdale, a 10,600 acre commercial cattle property in the Brisbane Valley implementing a terminal cross-breeding program.

Don Menzies – CQU PhD Candidate

Don attained tertiary qualifications in agriculture science in the mid 1990s and then spent five years working in research projects mostly within the north Australian beef industry. Don spent the next 15 years working in private enterprise supplying herd management and project management solutions to the northern beef industry, with a particular focus on technology transfer. In late 2013, he returned to study having been awarded a PhD scholarship with CQ University. His research focus is addressing reproductive inefficiencies in the northern beef industry by providing autonomous technologies to simplify data collection and drive genetic improvement. He maintains strong ties to rural Australia and is passionate about valuing agriculture as a respected career and a major contributor to the Australian economy.

PhD Thesis: Precision Livestock Management technologies to improve reproductive efficiency in the northern Australian beef industry




Brad & Hayley Robinson – Mort Co. & MLA

Brad and Hayley Robinson are both passionate about the beef industry. Throughout their careers they have developed strong, whole of supply chain knowledge that lead to them working in Russia with a vertically integrated beef company. Brad was in charge of the extensive feedlotting program while Hayley worked to develop feedback systems along the supply chain. Together they were able to increase compliance, collaboration and technical and practical knowledge across the business.

Brad currently manages Mort and Co’s ‘Grassdale’ feedlot and Hayley is Operations Manager for Meat Standards Australia (MSA). Both Brad and Hayley are alumni of the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association and Angus Youth programs. The beef industry has given them the opportunity to work, study and travel throughout Australia as well as to North America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East.