The premature passing of Graeme will sadden all those who have been touched by his dynamic personality. For many of us, it will take some time to fully accept that we will never see this wonderful man again. He was such a good friend, engaging personality and committed human being. He enveloped you in his enthusiasm, in his love for life.
He always saw the good in everything and everybody, and often got confounded by others who could not muster the same assured perspective on life and work. He disliked anyone using the work ‘can’t’ – it did not figure in his vocabulary.
His enthusiasm transferred to all aspects of life – family, rural, political and communal life.
His passion drew you in, he enjoyed every person’s company no matter who you were, and his incredible energy and work ethic set an example to us all.
While Graeme was perhaps best known for his achievements in the Beef Industry, and his promotion of Campdrafting, it is in his role in agri-politics that members of the Australian Beef Association owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Graeme and Jennie Acton were seed founders of the ABA, and Graeme was Vice-Chair in the early days of the organisation. He was enormously generous of his time and money in our efforts to represent the grassfed beef industry. He had continued to be a member and supporter of the organisation after office. It must be noted that Graeme did not enjoy the confrontation that often happened within agri-politics, as his nature was to ‘work it out like a gentleman, and get on with it’, but he did not shy away from doing what was needed to bring about change.
He was also a true gentleman. Graeme never ever verbally attacked anyone, recognising that that was a failing within oneself. Integrity was a corner post in his life.
ABA wishes to offer our deepest condolences to Graeme’s wife Jennie, his children Tom, Tori, Hayley and Laura, and their families. To his sister Elizabeth, and to Evan and Alan and Robert, his brothers, and their families, and to all his extended family, friends, associates and acquaintances, one of whom I count myself extremely lucky to be.
Our hearts are broken. Our memories will remain. His Legacy will last. Of that I am sure.
I met Graeme through the ABA and his agri-political activities. He was a big personality and always tried to put a positive spin towards the betterment of beef producer’s powers within the industry structure. He believed in bringing all players inside the tent to sort out a solution.
Two visions of Graeme stand out for me. The first was when he decided to hold a producer forum involving MLA at Paradise Lagoons. After the event was over I went to thank him for his hospitality. Despite a number of big industry players who were in attendance, I found Graeme at a table, spending some time with the young hands, and sharing a rum.
The second was when I rang him over concerns that the government was going to import beef from BSE affected countries. His response was to organise a producer forum at Paradise Lagoons to bring attention to the issue.
He was generous with his time and had the intellect to recognise a problem when it arose, and the energy to step up to try to resolve it.
Little wonder that young people in the cattle industry looked up to him and wanted to be like him. A true leader.
Graeme Acton phoned me in mid-1998 and asked me to Chair the newly formed ABA.
During my Chairmanship he supported me with great loyalty. He didn’t enjoy some of the difficult agri-political confrontations which had to be made as we uncovered the legal mess that is “the industry structure”, but he “hung in there”.
I will always be grateful for his generosity as a host, for his inspiring vision, and his exemplary great attention to detail in his expanding operation.
I saw him as a lovable boy and an industry giant in the one package. He and his soul mate, Jennie, always made me feel at home in Rockhampton.
Our industry has lost a titan.
To me, Graeme was such a dynamic, positive person who treated everyone with the same friendly manner. His position in life did not change him, and being the little person, the young person , or the employee did not affect the way he treated people. He was no snob.
He tried to have those in power in beef/meat politics see it the producers’ way, and was disappointed when they, through their own power agendas, could not see basic reasoning to have the grass fed beef Industry best interests represented.
He had a desire (like many Directors of the ABA), that looked beyond his own front gate, to improve the whole of the beef industry for everyone. He had the passion……. it went beyond just his own agenda.
People like him appeared bullet proof, so to read that he had died made it so hard to accept. His generosity and positivity gave him an air of invincibility.
My heartfelt wishes go to Jennie. Her strength and intelligence as a wonderful supportive partner came through at the Paradise Lagoons meeting Graeme had organised, and her strength came through on that day. She was not just a pretty face, she was a tower of strength to his ambitions and was with him all the way.
Family was paramount to both of them and they were proud parents of their family and their achievements. He never forgot his forbears, and his love of horses is legendary.
The Paradise Lagoons campdraft facilities is testament to his eye for detail, for the facilities provided to the competitors, and even down to his planting of bushes featuring the ‘A’ for Acton Super Beef –they were second to none in Australia.
The joke was he had the “A” monogrammed on his pyjamas.
I feel incredibly privileged to have known such a great Queenslander first, a great Australian second, and my deepest sympathy goes to the Family of this truly unique man.
Past Office Manager for ABA
Family businesses are the backbone of rural Australia, and Graeme Acton was a great role model for all of us, as it was for his passion for his family and his family business that I admired him the most.
However, Graeme also cared for the industry and for the people in it, and was extremely generous with, most importantly, his time – and when necessary his kind generosity.
He was very passionate about the need for reform and democracy in the beef industry for the MLA levy payers. The current Senate Levies Inquiry is testimony to his and other ABA Directors’ persistence, integrity and long term support for the ABA, so that they have finally seen their original objectives come into play.
Even when his family business was under serious pressure due to drought on the Barkly Tablelands, and floods in Central Queensland, he never faltered, and was always there to help others and was interested in everyone.
He helped grow the family business from a simple bungalow at the back of the original Acton property, to a magnificent house on the hill in Rockhampton . He is a wonderful role model for young people starting out.
He was quick to recognise that the beef industry needed to move from a commodity mentality to a branded product industry. Hence, along came Acton Super Beef and Graeme was among the first to tackle the Chinese market some 12 or more years ago. He was an innovator and a true leader. He was flexible when it came to genetics and he recognised that meat quality had to improve.
When the Johnes disaster hit his fellow producers in the South, he was quick with his moral backing. Then when Johnes hit Central Queensland last year, he was quick to offer his support and his time for a venue for the information event (though flooding meant the meeting had to be moved from Paradise Lagoons into Rockhampton ).
His hope was that common sense decisions about Johnes would prevail, and as that has not happened, to this day that remains unfinished business.
I will never forget when we were in deep trouble at Cobungra Station near Mount Hotham in Victoria. A severe drought we’d gone through was suddenly broken by a massive freezing snowfall and our cattle were isolated in snow for 10 days. We decided to end the doom and gloom of the time, with a “Let’s get on with it” Field Day for our bulls, and who should turn up out of the blue, with a bottle of good Irish whiskey, but Graeme and Jennie Acton and their good friends David and Judy Camm, to lend moral support !! It’s these little acts of kindness that are so important to rural people.
His passion for people, horses and cattle was shown in his love for campdrafting, and he was able to share this with everyone at Paradise Lagoons. And while I will miss his active brain and his ideas, I am strengthened by the fact his life ended doing something he passionately loved, and that he shared with his family and friends.
Graeme put the essential ingredients together to enjoy the rural sector – a great passion for the land, for his family and friends, for what he was doing, and for his animals. He coupled this with common sense, and enquiring mind, and a good dose of energy.
He was a great role model for our rural youth: to be enthusiastic, hardworking, multi skilled, forward thinking, but also to be kind, and a community person.
Don Lawson, OAM,
Past Director of ABA
Lawson Angus Stud and Genetics
Our deepest sympathies go to the family of Graeme Acton.
His generous contribution to the beef industry and wider community was both inspirational and a wonderful example to follow.
His leadership and passion for innovation and excellence in the industry will be sadly missed.
Edward and Anna Bassett
(07) 4623 0209
This Tribute will be put on the ABA website – www.austbeef.com.au…………….
Other Directors are planning to contribute and these will also be added to the website tonight.
ABA would be most pleased to have members and friends add their tribute to Graeme on the website as well.