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AgLife: Allan Myers: For the love of country

As a rural journalist, it is not often one gets to rub shoulders with someone on the latest rich list. Allan Myers is one such man – and a self-made one at that. 

He recently agreed to an interview with Country Today and so there I was, in the Paris end of Collins Street, walking hurriedly past the Prada shop and other haute couture establishments, hunting for his offices, feeling ridiculously out of place.

Myers is one of Australia’s leading Queens Counsel and has specialised in the lucrative fields of commercial and international law. 

He must be pretty damned good as he is also Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

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So why talk to him for a radio program on farming? He is also now one of the larger landholders in the country. His is a fascinating story.

Describing himself as a ‘country boy’, Myers’ family first came to Dunkeld in 1839 as convicts who had served their time in Tasmania.

“I grew up on a small farm on the edge of Dunkeld. I’m interested in the natural beauty of the country… not only around Dunkeld but in the Northern Territory and Western Australia and elsewhere in the country,” he said.

Indeed, so interested that he has bought land totalling millions of hectares and has employed conservationists on each property.

As one would expect, he presents as a conservative, careful and considered man, wary of the reporter’s questions and well, rather stern. 

But like most fathers, mention of his children and his demeanor changes into great pride for how they have driven the emphasis on farming with great attention to conservation and sustainability. 

“In the Kimberley – in northern Western Australia – we have pastoral leases which are quite extensive above the Gibb River Road and the reason we’re there is to protect the flora and fauna of that part of the world. It’s a beautiful wilderness,” he said.

“Although it is a pastoral enterprise and we take thousands of cattle off every year, we’re motivated to undertake that because we’re interested in the rock art and the flora and fauna. 

“One of our daughters, who works full time in the farming operations, I suppose she’s the head conservationist.” 

So, do we need more of the likes of Allan Myers who has the resources to invest in such bold projects? 

“I’m sure people have different interests, and there are fewer and fewer people in Australia as a proportion of the population, who have any knowledge of or interest in rural matters,” he said.

Allan Myers.

“Obviously, I’d like more Australians to have great love of their country, the land, and what grows on it and the animals that live there.

“Whether that will happen who knows? I suspect it will, because there’s more and more emphasis on preserving the planet, the desire to reduce carbon emissions and so on is associated with all these green activities.”

Unlike so many landholders, Myers is not afraid of foreign investment.

“Bureaucratic controls upon investment need to be so undertaken that they don’t stop investment altogether,” he said.

“We need foreign capital in Australia and we always have and we still do… I don’t really understand the fear of having foreigners invest in Australian land. 

“The one thing that they can’t take away, the one thing that we are able to control completely is the land within our national borders. 

“So I’d let them invest and have the right sort of controls.”

For the full interview with Allan Myers, who talks broadly on other topics such as the wool industry and mulesing, and the emergence of ‘fake’ meat, visit Country Today’s Facebook page, @CountryToday.

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 31, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!