A Western Australian dairy farmer who played a key role in opening up export markets for the Australian industry was honoured with a top industry award in Melbourne on Thursday.
David Partridge, from White Rocks dairy farm, Benger, WA, was awarded the Australian Dairy Industry Council's Pat Rowley Award for Outstanding Service at the ADIC's business breakfast.
Mr Partridge said it was difficult as someone who had given 20-odd years to the dairy industry to still find it was broken.
But hopefully it was on the mend.
He said he did not deserve the award, admonishing his son Michael, WA Farmers dairy council president, for cajoling him to attend the breakfast "because I thought he was going to do something interesting".
Outgoing ADF director Simone Jolliffe, in presenting the award, praised Mr Partridge's public contribution to the industry, which began when he stood for the board of his local co-operative in 1969.
"From there he represented the dairy industry in many state organisations and as a national agriculture representative," she said.
He joined the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation as a WA state representative in 1977 and then joined the newly formed National Farmers' Federation board as the ADFF representative in 1979.
"This was a relatively unique position as other members of the NFF board were usually either the president or chair of their respective organisations," Mrs Jolliffe said.
In 1981 he was elected chair of the NFF's economic committee, a position he held until his retirement from the NFF in 1990.
"He was pivotal in leading the policy and advocacy debate to benefit all farmers through the significant economic reforms of the Hawke Government," Mrs Jolliffe said.
"These included opening the economy to international forces through reforms such as floating the Australian dollar and tariff reform, and the first attempt to have a value added tax introduced into Australia."
As a board member of the Primary Industry Bank of Australia in the 1980s, one of his key initiatives was the establishment of "interest-only" loans to ensure farmers could remain viable by reducing the need to make capital reductions during this period of high interest rates.
In 1986 he was appointed to the Australian Dairy Corporation and for the next decade was heavily involved in the activities of industry organisations in South-East Asia and the Middle East.
Mr Partridge was also involved at a state level.
In the 1970s, he played a key role in environmental protection activities that helped ensure the continuation of the Wellington dam as a source of irrigation water.
He was also called upon by the WA government in 2000 to help manage the state's dairy industry following deregulation.
Mr Partridge was previously bestowed an Order of Australia medal and presented with the NFF Award of Honour for his service to the dairy and wider agricultural industry.
He also helped build a successful farm business.
"His White Rocks dairy farm milks 600 cows a year and raises around 1000 calves," Mrs Jolliffe said.
"White Rocks veal is recognised nationally and internationally and is sought after by chefs in the finest restaurants.
"And while busy with activities across Australia and beyond, he has also found time to contribute to his local community, including educational organisations to ensure the next generation is equipped with knowledge and skills for the future."
Mrs Jolliffe also thanked his family and friends - particularly Mr Partridge's wife Elizabeth - for their support that allowed him to dedicate himself to agri-politics, business and community service.
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