Australian Meat Processor Corporation accused of fraud and corruption

By Paddy Hintz
From: The Courier-Mail
July 11, 2010

ALLEGATIONS of fraud and corruption involving more than $4 million in missing funds could bring about the undoing of one of the beef industry's peak bodies.

The organisers of a forum in Rockhampton this Friday want to shake up the way the meat industry is represented and give Queensland consumers access to beef that is of better quality and better value.

The organisers want the Federal Government to wind up the Australian Meat Processor Corporation because of its handling of contributors' finances, including $4.182 million allegedly misappropriated by former AMPC chief financial officer Greg O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor has been charged by the New South Wales police with 36 counts of fraud.

The matter has been adjourned until next month in the NSW District Court and Mr O'Connor has not yet entered a plea.

Beef consultant Norman Hunt, one of the organisers of the forum, said the AMPC was one of the industry bodies standing in the way of attempts to bring about a national beef labelling scheme.

The scheme aims to prevent beef from old cows being sold as prime cuts to Queensland consumers.

Mr Hunt said the amount of poor quality beef cuts considered only fit for mincing that were being passed off as prime cuts would astonish Queensland consumers.

Cuts normally considered prime, such as rump and porterhouse from old cows were being sold on the domestic market under the label "budget beef", a label he said consumers normally mistook to indicate value rather than poor quality.

Mr Hunt said that a private study funded by southern meat processor Bindaree Beef had found that of the three million cattle slaughtered for the domestic market each year, 1.7 million were cows older than nine years old and about 80 per cent of the prime cuts from those old cows were eaten by Australians.

"That's a lot of old cow for people to have to chew," Mr Hunt said.

Queensland producers attending the forum will be asked to support a national grading scheme, a move which has also been resisted by the Red Meat Advisory Council and Meat and Livestock Australia.

The Courier-Mail tried repeatedly to contact the chief executive of the AMPC, Kevin Collison, however Mr Collison did not return calls or emails.