Park relishes life on the land

Rueben HaleCountryman

Badgingarra farmer Dale Park has been focusing on his Murray Greys since retiring as WAFarmers president earlier this year.

Countryman visited him almost a year on and asked how his view of the world may have changed.

“I was just reflecting on the amount of time that I used to spend on the road travelling to Perth and then back to the farm each week,” Mr Park said.

“I used to say I was doing well if I only spent three days a week in the city or elsewhere doing something for the organisation.

“My wife, Marian, was always very supportive of me and the amount of time I had to devote to the job, but both of us are very happy now to be able to concentrate on the farm again — the extra time together has been very good.”

Mr Park said his idealistic view of the way he could affect change, as leader of WA’s largest farm lobby group, had been tested throughout his term.

“I am very proud of what I, with the support of the WAFarmers team, was able to achieve in my time in the role,” he said.

“I believe we were successful in raising the profile of critical issues such as the closure of Tier 3 rail lines, the right of farmers to protest and fracking, to name only some of the challenges.

“But people often asked me if I would be going into politics as a natural progression from what I had been doing at WAFarmers.

“At one time, I would have probably agreed with them, but I must admit I have become somewhat disillusioned about politics after experiencing having to deal with governments that did not always hold the best interests of agriculture high on their agenda.”

Mr Park said the recent backpacker tax “debacle” was a clear example of this.

“The Federal Government, in its infinite wisdom, decided that charging backpackers tax was a good way to get some money, despite being clearly and loudly told by just about every farming-related organisation in the country that it was a bad idea,” he said.

“Then, through shear incompetence, we end up in a situation where farmers were at risk of being without backpacker labour a week before Parliament was about to finish for the year.

“This was a clear case of politicians doing stupid things and not understanding the cause and effect and I decided I didn’t want to be part of that.”

Mr Park said he was happy now to put agri-politics behind him and take advantage of the buoyant cattle market.

“I have about 600 grass-fed Murray Greys, but with the market the way it is at the present, I would be keen to take on some more breeding cattle,” he said.

“There is mixed opinion about the long-term outlook for beef at the moment, but ... I think it is inevitable that the growing Asian market will ultimately keep prices strong.”

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