Adjournment Debate – BevCon

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Mr PITT (Hinkler): Oz Comic-Con is something I’m sure you have heard of, Deputy Speaker Georganas. You look like a fan! Star Wars, Marvel, Thor—I’m sure my wife wishes I had the physique of Thor! But I’m sure you haven’t heard of this one, because it’s new: BevCon, the beverage convention in Bundaberg. It will be held on 19 March and celebrates all of the beverages which are being produced in our local regional areas. I’m sure you would be aware Bundaberg has been the home to a number of world-renowned beverages for many years. There is one you might have heard of. Bundaberg Rum celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013. Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was established in 1960. In a former role, I saw it everywhere around the world, from Saudi Arabia to India and China—pretty much every country. There are newer businesses, like Bargara Brewing Company, which started in 2014, and Kalki Moon Distilling and Brewing.

As I said, on 19 March the first ever Bundaberg beverage conference, BevCon, will be held to meet the makers of the products the region is famous for. It will be hosted at The Brewhouse by Bargara Brewing Company, with Bundaberg Rum, Kalki Moon Distilling, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Muchas Gazpacho, Bundy Juice and Ohana Winery as local guest exhibitors. I spoke to Bargara Brewing Company’s CEO, Jack Millbank, and he said that the convention is a collaborative initiative to bring together licensed liquor vendors in Queensland for an opportunity to meet the makers, to discover new products and, of course, to explore our great region.

I offer an invitation to you, Mr Deputy Speaker: come on up and see the BevCon. BevCon will feature over 40 products made by Bundaberg companies. It’s an opportunity for those buyers to taste, feel, touch, understand, explore, question and immerse themselves in an experience so that they can tell the story behind the product to their customers. Consumers in Australia increasingly want to understand the story behind their food and drinks. What better way to tell it? What better way to tell that story than straight from the horse’s mouth?

A national economic evaluation commissioned by the Independent Brewers Association shows that approximately 65 per cent of independent brewing businesses are located in regional and rural areas, with the sector’s activities supporting businesses, tourism and employment in these communities. The sector has undergone considerable growth in the past decade, from 30 businesses in 2006 to 380 business in 2016. I would have to declare a conflict: I am one of those locals. I was born in Bundaberg and actually trained as an electrician with Bundaberg Sugar who, at the time, owned the Bundaberg Rum distillery. So I myself have a long history back to the actual manufacturing of that great product. It’s not just about the product itself; it is about the people they employ. They are part of our local community. Once again, I congratulate all of these businesses for the work that they are doing, employing local people, putting our locations on the map and driving tourism numbers into our region.

What a great example: Bundaberg Rum committed some $8.5 million that they invested into a tourism facility a couple of years ago. In 2017, they were named world’s best educational experience and world’s best retail experience in a regional centre in Central Queensland, employing local people. How good is it? Some 5,000 visitors a month, both domestic and international, come to the region to see the absolutely wonderful experience and tourism icons like Bundaberg Rum, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Bargara Brewing Company and Kalki Moon Distilling. That does one thing: it fills local hotels, it fills local restaurants and provides an add-on and flow-on to our local economy which we simply cannot do without.

I congratulate the organisers of BevCon. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for them to display their products right around our region and, hopefully, nationally and internationally. So I say to those operators, congratulations. It is a great opportunity for BevCon. I would like to mention one more person, and that is Kylie McPherson. Kylie works for Bundaberg Rum, the Bundaberg Distilling Company, and just last year she became the first female chairman of the board of the Bundaberg Distilling Company. I think that is a fantastic reflection on that company, which has been around since the 1880s.

That company is absolutely part of our local community. It was essential during the floods of 2013. The work that they did supporting our local community is an absolute credit to them. Once again, I’ll declare an interest: I was one of those young kids running around—quite some time ago, skinnier and with less grey hair—sponsored by organisations like the Bundaberg Distilling Company for 10 years in surf lifesaving. They have been part of our local community for a long time. I congratulate them again. I look forward to BevCon. I hope to get the opportunity to attend. I invite you once again, Mr Deputy Speaker, to get up to Bundaberg and see the BevCon. It is a great event and I congratulate all involved.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr S Georganas ): I thank the member for Hinkler, and I may take him up on his invitation! Thank you.

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