Life on the land in Australia

Gina Rinehart adds family-run WA dairy to string of investments in Australian agriculture

Western Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has secured her foothold in the WA local dairy industry by buying into an iconic south west business.


The deal allows family-owned Bannister Downs Dairy in Northcliffe to increase its milk production fourfold, with plans to build a $20 million processing plant.

This latest investment is part of a big spending spree in agriculture, with Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting buying a share in two Kimberley cattle stations and a mothballed south west abattoir.

Just last week, it bought NSW farmland and a Wagyu cattle herd for a reported $25 million.

Mat and Sue Daubney, of Bannister Downs, have transformed their family farm, 250 kilometres south of Perth, into an agribusiness success story, with a string of prestigious awards.

They recently hit capacity and have a waiting list of about 50 customers in WA alone.

They recently hit capacity and have a waiting list of about 50 customers in WA alone.

Teaming up with Hancock Prospecting-controlled Hope Dairies WA will allow the Daubney family to expand and meet the growing demand for their product.

“WA is our market and that is the first place we’re focussing on,” said Mrs Daubney, Bannister Downs Dairy managing director.

“Gina Rinehart is a partner that really understands agriculture.


“We’ve been planning a creamery project since June 2011. It was a dream, a vision, and now it’s a plan on paper.”

The modern robotic dairy Mrs Daubney has in mind will include a voluntary milking set-up with fully automated processing to enable her team to implement the world’s best practice food safety, traceability and preventative health management in their milking herd.

“It’s about building the most ultimate dairy complex that we can design,” she said.

“Instead of us being frustrated with poor equipment and an undersized facility and various hurdles every way we looked, we can now get on to build the ultimate place for fresh milk.

“There’ll still be plenty of jobs, they’ll just be better jobs.

“It’s very exciting for our people, for our community and our shire. It’s a positive thing all round.”

Mrs Daubney is sticking with producing fresh milk, saying infant milk formula is ‘definitely not for Bannister Downs’, but fresh exports to large markets like China could be on the horizon.

“We’ve got a lot of demand in the local demand. We’d like to believe that we can satisfy that. Once we’re at saturation, we’ll start venturing overseas.

“We always take baby steps, so we’ll grow into our skin as everything unfolds.”

Mrs Daubney says the hive of investment activity in the agriculture sector nationwide is starting to dramatically change the landscape for farmers.

“A lot of other businesses will benefit from this, just simply the improvement in the market, productivity and different relations that have formed are going to benefit everybody.

“It’s just going to take a little while to pick up speed, then we can enjoy some return for our efforts.

“Mrs Rinehart is a partner that is parochially West Australian and in fact Mrs Rinehart’s words to me were ‘I hope we can help you realise your dream’.

“You can’t ask for much more than that.”

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Henry Sapiecha

December 23rd, 2014

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