Hands off our Beef Australia

ROCKHAMPTON'S title as the Beef Capital of Australia could be under threat.

Concerns have been raised after a news report on WIN Television on Wednesday night claimed Toowoomba was being looked at as a preferred location for Beef Australia over Rockhampton.

It is believed lack of accommodation and business support as well as clashes with other events were put forward as reasons why Rockhampton may lose the event the city has hosted since 1988.

Yesterday, Beef Australia 2006 event co-ordinator Noel Landry said after next year's expo, Beef Australia would consider its options.

Mr Landry would not comment on the television report.

"There have always been other events around the time of Beef Australia, so that is certainly nothing new,'' he said.

"The Beef Expo is certainly important to the beef industry of Australia.

"We are certainly looking to grow the event but we are concentrating on 2006 at the moment.

"I think it is premature for people to be talking about Toowoomba now.

"At the end of the day, we've always been here and who knows what will happen in 2009?''

Founding and current Beef Australia committee member John Croaker confirmed the board had met in Toowoomba, but said people should remember Beef Australia was an industry event not a specific Central Queensland event.

"We are keeping all our options open,'' he said.

"We haven't sold out Rocky. Our energies at the moment are on (Beef Australia) 2006.''

The importance of the exhibition to the region is something Gracemere Exhibition Complex manager Peter Priem doesn't want forgotten.

"Rocky would be highly embarrassed if we lost it, we need to retain it as a matter of community pride,'' he said.

"This is something that Rockhampton has fostered and helped to grow and we don't want to lose it.''

Rockhampton City Council has been one of the supporters of Beef Australia and Councillor Rod Green said the council had done more than just offer in-kind support to Beef Australia.

A spokesman from Toowoomba Showgrounds said no further contact had been made by the group since a meeting earlier this year.

Beef Australia will be held in May 2006.

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