The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association represents pastoralists and an increasing number of associate members, who manage 49 per cent of the Territory’s land mass and keep 10,000 people directly and indirectly employed.
We used to say Australia was built on the sheep’s back, but with the Territory it was built on the back of our cattle industry. And never has that been more obvious than our ability to keep urban, regional and remote Territorians employed during Covid-19. If anyone questions the relevance of associations then you need to ask the Brett Family, also featured in this edition of Territory Q, the importance of the role we played in the landmark class action on the back of the 2011 live export ban.
My predecessors, Luke Bowen and Tracey Hayes, continually fought the drawn-out battle while the NTCA executive, made up of the grassroots membership, set the policy direction. The class action had been going on for six years and a lesser-known campaign around onshore gas and land access rights was also bubbling along.
Throughout all this our industry has had to constantly adjust to the moving goal posts of native title, which has slowed and restricted investment through costly court battles. These types of challenges can only be faced collectively and with a united voice and the NTCA pulls all these voices together. It is not possible for individual land holders to face these types of unique battles on their own.
Regularly the silent question on why people are members is answered through action. Our action also piqued the non-members of the NTCA during Covid-19. NTCA staff assisted many non-members from multiple industries when the borders shut. We even organised a charter flight for school students to return to boarding school in South Australia. We did it because first we were asked and secondly it had to be done. After all, we are unashamedly Territorian.
One of the most important things the NTCA has done in recent times is made the connection between our industry, producers, consumers and decision makers. In some respects, the connection through #HerdThat is why people from our industry and others came to us during Covid-19.
What seems like a marketing exercise is actually a strategically integrated communication strategy based on a foundational industry. At the time of going to print, more than 14,000 people had joined our army. We’ve had social media engagement of more than 4.8 million people and it is people such as Donal Sullivan and the Alice Springs School of the Air who now have a platform to share their story and be proud of.
They are all stories from real people doing extraordinary things every single day. It goes without saying that the NTCA is here for its members and you will read about the Warbys who have experienced many of the challenges I have already written about. Overcoming issues, you are going to read about many more of our members who are also doing extraordinary things every day.
Every single person who works for the NTCA – whether it be Romy Carey (Executive Officer); Stephanie Frankham (Project Manager); Hannah Murray (Business Development Manager); Annie Hesse (Public Engagement Manager); Casey Ellis (RJP Project Coordinator); Stewart Foster (RJP mentor) or Scott Eggerling (our operations manager at our yards in Alice Springs – are all committed to delivering for our members and our industry.
Agriculture will be a key platform for the NT’s future economic success and the NTCA and its members will be actively shaping it. TQ