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Journeys : Feb March 2010
In Tasmania today As we journey through life we reflect on the freedom and simplicity of our childhood and the way those experiences influenced our behaviour later in life. I grew up in East Devonport on a farm by the sea and apart from holidays have found no reason to leave. There isn't a much better way to grow up thanasaboyonafarm--wehadthe freedom to roam the coastal foreshore and bushland. We started work as soon as there was a job we were old enough or strong enough to do. If we weren't working we were hunting and fishing. Ours was a mixed farm, stretching right dow n to the edge of Bass Strait. We grew potatoes and other vegetables as well as milking cows and raising sheep, beef cattle and pigs with my Dad and grandfather. I attended East Devonport Primary School first and then went as a boarder at Grammar in Launceston until the end of Grade 11. I spent my last year at Devonport High before I headed back to the land. In 1973 at 19 I headed off overseas for eight months, hitch-hiking through Europe and the USA -- this was what I consider my post-secondary education. As a naïve farm boy from the sheltered life of Tasmania, you very rapidly adapt to survive. It was the perfect way to develop self-reliance and an understanding and respect for different races and cultures. I returned to the family business, working with my father and then in partnership with my brother in a number of business ventures from early days. My Dad was a great mentor, someone who always gave you every opportunity to do what you wanted to do. You see a lot of people on far ms in their forties and fifties and they're still working for their fathers who are still making all the decisions. My Dad allowed us the space to do the things we wanted to do and the independence to do them. At about 21 I was nominated to the newly for med Potato Industry Authority. I was the only elected member -- the rest were government appointees and it was a fascinating education for a young person with no experience of bureaucracy, as the Authority ended up the subject of a judicial enquiry. That experience encouraged me for a long period to keep well clear of the government and I learnt that you have to look after your ow n interests, depend on nobody and focus on what you can do for yourself. In the early eighties we started the joint venture ‘Freshgro’ with the Vo s family to supply their super markets with fresh fr uit and vegetables. Eighteen months after commencing, Roelf Vos sold out to Woolworths and for 15 years I managed Freshgro as a joint venture with them to supply all the Roelf Vos supermarkets. I finished the last three years of this ar ra ngement working for Woolworths as their buying and distribution manager for produce in Tasmania. These experiences allowed me to view farming from a different perspective. After leaving Woolworths I became embroiled in a range of agri-political activities -- having worked with the big end of tow n, you are very aware of the v ulnerability of small producers in their dealings with large companies. I am also aware that agriculture is the main activity that keeps many regional communities alive, but receives very little recognition. Big business is very good at telling its own story. We've seen this in the cur rent dairy dispute. You have the big company taking out half-page advertisements saying ‘We employ six hundred people in Tasmania' and sounding like they are more important than others, but the fact is that the dairy farmers employ a lot more than that. We have a love affair with the needs of big business because they are better lobbyists. If the big supermarkets weren't in Tasmania, there would still be hundreds of small stores supplying the Tasmanian public, who would employ more people than the major stores. The money would be spread more evenly across the community. There would also be more competition and diversity among suppliers. My slice of the island Richard Bovill Tourism Tasmania and Garry Moore February / March 10 42
Dec Jan 2010
April May 2010