Awards of Honour 2019

Five recipients took to the stage at the Banana Ball, recognised for their outstanding dedication and service to the banana industry.

The Awards of Honour were initiated by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council to pay tribute to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the industry, often over many years.

Nominations come from within industry and the ABGC Board reviews all nominations before awarding the honours list.

“The five people who received an Award of Honour at this year’s Congress represented some of the best attributes of our industry – they’re innovative, willing to share ideas and are passionate about what they do,” said Congress Chair Paul Inderbitzin.

2019 Award of Honour recipients:

Peter Molenaar

Peter Molenaar has grown bananas in northern NSW for nearly 40 years. A genuine industry stalwart who has gone beyond the paddock to represent banana growing at both local and national levels, including serving on the ABGC Board for a decade.

He has worked tirelessly on some of the industry’s biggest issues including the National Banana levy, Plant Protection Program and national Banana Bunchy Top Virus. Peter is still involved in a number of crucial committees and is a current member of the Banana Marketing Strategic Industry Investment Advisory Panel and the Tweed Banana Growers’ Association executive.

Stephen and Gavin Mackay

The Mackay name is synonymous with leadership, innovation and adaptation. Cousins Stephen and Gavin manage Mackay’s Bolinda Estate farm in Tully. Together, they have selflessly and generously given their time to share with industry and stakeholders how they have innovated in the face of adversity and continued to farm with TR4.

Part of the biggest banana growing family in Australia, Stephen and Gavin have always been willing to share knowledge that benefits industry as a whole and their contribution to industry goes well beyond their own farm gates. Their award is of particular recognition of the instrumental role they have played in supporting and educating growers in North Queensland in maintaining the continued fight against TR4. Their efforts have also enabled growers, extension officers, the ABGC and biosecurity authorities throughout Australia to better protect farms from getting and spreading TR4.

Ian Liddle

Liddles Aerial Spraying is Australia’s first and only third generation aerial application business.

Founded by Ian’s father, Norm, it helped pioneer aerial services to rural Australia in the 1950s. Ian Liddle, a former banana grower himself, has continued his father’s legacy and has been instrumental in developing aerial spraying of north Queensland bananas. Ian has always embraced new technology and has adapted it to the benefit of growers. He introduced the first rotary service to the banana area and was a leader in using larger turbine aircraft for aerial application. Ian is the longest serving operator in north Queensland leading the way with new aircraft technology and innovation.

Les Blennerhassett

Les is a founder and director of Blenners Transport in Tully, North Queensland. Blenners Transport have been getting fresh produce to market for three decades. Starting out as a banana farmer looking to solve produce transport issues, Les and wife Judy decided to truck their own bananas to market.

With a reputation for reliability and efficiency, this forward thinking farmer’s small fleet of vehicles steadily grew into the renowned transport solution it is today. Blenners Transport is now one of the largest family-owned road and rail operators, with a team of 350 employees and an impressive national fleet of 127 prime movers, 155 vans, 33 rigid trucks, 10 road trains and 20 rail containers. They transport North Queensland bananas to markets in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.