Adjournment – Bundaberg Rum, 125th anniversary

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mr PITT (Hinkler) (10:26): This weekend I will attend the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Bundaberg Distilling Company. To mark the occasion the company will release 4,888 numbered bottles of limited edition Bundaberg rum. The commemorative product is a blend of the company’s oldest and rarest rums. A list of 125 ingenious Australians will also be released coinciding with the arrival of the Bundaberg tall ship into Sydney. Earlier this month, before the tall ship departed on its 1,888-kilometre journey from Bundaberg, I attended an event where the captain was presented with the bottle numbered 1,888.

As the member for Hinkler, I am particularly proud to see our very own Bert Hinkler make it onto the list of ingenious Australians. Known as ‘the Australian Lone Eagle’, Hinkler was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia in 1928 and then the first person to fly solo across the southern Atlantic Ocean in 1931. Just like Bert Hinkler, Bundaberg rum is a local icon. The anniversary marks not only a momentous occasion for the company, but also for the Hinkler electorate and me personally. I worked with Bundaberg sugar and the distillery many years ago as an apprentice, and I clearly recall working around the giant storage facilities.

Bundaberg rum was born in 1888 from the ingenuity of a consortium of Bundaberg sugar mills who found a way to utilise their excess molasses. Today the distillery employs more than 50 people and is responsible for generating many more jobs indirectly. BDC’s legacy has endured thanks to the passion, perseverance and creativity of all those who have worked there. Over the years it has developed into one of Queensland’s most popular destinations. Tourists, both domestic and international, know Bundaberg because of our rum and ginger beer. The white polar bear is a common sight throughout Australia, including here in my parliamentary office. Bundaberg rum is a part of Australia’s heritage.

As well as putting Bundaberg on the map and supporting our local economy, Bundaberg Distilling Company is a member of the Hinkler community. It is a company with a conscience. Bundaberg has flooded twice in the past three years. In 2011 the Bundaberg Distilling Company raised money for Queensland charities with the release of a limited edition collector’s rum, titled ‘Watermark’. Across the country pubs and clubs, including some of those affected by the floods, simultaneously hosted events to raise funds and celebrate the resilient and courageous Queensland spirit. In February this year they announced the Road to Recovery program, calling on Bundaberg rum fans from around the country to help the Bundaberg community get back on its feet. The bottles were labelled with the names of the roads and the streets that were submerged. Each flood-affected household in Bundaberg was offered a complementary bottle, featuring their road or street name. The remaining bottles were sold to the public with all proceeds going towards Bundaberg’s flood recovery efforts. Only available for purchase at the distillery’s tourist centre, Road to Recovery Rum attracted fans and out-of-towners to Bundaberg, injecting much-needed funds into the local economy.

BDC and its parent company Diageo donated a further $200,000 to the Red Cross Queensland Flood Appeal. Even when other companies cut back on sponsorship due to tough market conditions, BDC continued to support local community groups, like the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club. As a former member, I must say I was very proud to see them donate things from surf boats to wet suits. Their commitment to the local community has never waned. On behalf of all Hinkler residents, I would like to thank the Bundaberg Distilling Company for their support and I congratulate them on reaching 125 years—a very significant milestone indeed.

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