Pollock recognised for sugarcane industry contribution

Researcher recognised for significant service to primary industry

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John Pollock spent 17 years as a researcher in the sugarcane industry.

John Pollock spent 17 years as a researcher in the sugarcane industry.

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Yungaburra resident, John Pollock, was one of 282 Australians to be appointed Members of the Order on Australia Day.

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Yungaburra resident, John Pollock, was one of 282 Australians to be appointed Members of the Order on Australia Day.

Recognised for his significant service to primary industry in Queensland through a range of roles, the humble 73-year-old said he was honored. 

“I’m just one amongst many in my field; there's a lot of people equally meritorious and deserving of an honor, I just happen to be singled out, and for that I'm quite thankful and feel quite honored,” Mr Pollock said. 

Growing up on a cane farm in Mossman and then studying agriculture at university, Mr Pollock spent 17 years as a researcher in the sugarcane industry before moving into the public service where he dedicated himself to primary industries. 

Mr Pollock said his major achievements were seeing advancements in sugarcane varieties. 

“My main research agenda was early in my career, working in the plant-breeding programs firstly in north Queensland at Meringa, and then I moved to the Burdekin where I was running programs in Mackay, the Burdekin and Ingham,” he said. 

Mr Pollock said the biggest development for the cane industry during his career was mechanisation.

“I’m old enough to have seen mechanisation come in, but that had an impact on us as researchers as well because we had to adapt to mechanical harvesting,” he said.

“I was part of the team that helped develop weighing machines that could work beside mechanical harvesters and that allowed us to modify and change our field trial designs to accommodate mechanical harvesting.

“The advances in technology generally, whether it's through new infra-red technology or statistical design of experiments, have all been fantastic and offered us a lot of opportunities.” 

Later on in his career, Mr Pollock moved into management roles with natural resources and research boards.

He served as one of the inaugural directors on the Sugar Research and Development Corporation when it was set up in 1990, Executive Director and Deputy Director-General of Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries from 1996 to 2005, Deputy Commissioner of the Murray Darling Basin Commission from 2000 to 2005, and chair of the Research Funding Panel for Sugar Research Australia from 2015 to 2018, among other roles.

Mr Pollock said his career was driven by a passion for primary industries.

“I like primary industries and I like the notion that primary industries can manage natural resources effectively, and anything that I can do to help is worthwhile,” he said. 

“My other big input has been with fisheries. I was also the Queensland Director of Fisheries in the mid to late 90s and I still do some work with the Commonwealth Government, chairing management advisory committees for fisheries,” he said.

These advisory roles have seen him involved in two distinct projects. 

“One is the Bass Strait scallop fishery and the other is working with a suite of fisheries in the Torres Straits and they've got two fairly different objectives,” he said.

“The Bass Strait is easy, it's a commercial fishery so we're trying to manage that fishery so that the fish stocks are sustainable and the fisherman are profitable, and that's pretty straightforward.

“The Torres Strait has pretty different objectives, apart from running a sustainable and profitable fishery, the Torres Strait islanders have aspirations to ownership of the fisheries resources which is quite laudable.

“Over the last couple of decades we've been going through a process of buying back non-indigenous fishing licenses, making them available to the indigenous or Torres Strait fisherman, but then more importantly helping the Torres Strait fisherman run those fisheries like a business, in other words they’ve got to be profitable and they've got to have continuity of supply, and that has its own set of challenges.” 

Mr Pollock said his work was always a pleasure for him and that he relished the roles he was still involved in.

“I've been very lucky and I've always enjoyed most of the aspects of the work I've been involved in,” he said. 

“And working with both primary producers and fisherman is always quite rewarding.” 

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