Meet the Climate Hub Advisory Panel: Michael Porter
Michael is the Manager of the Proserpine Cane Growers. Michael first came to the region in 1995 and his 20 plus years experience in banking and finance saw him open and manage the first NAB branch
In addition to his role as the Manager of the Proserpine Canegrowers, Michael is also the company secretary for Sugar Services Proserpine, Kelsey Creek Water Co-operative and Six Mile Irrigators Co-operative.
Michael is also heavily involved with the Whitsunday community acting as Deputy Chair of Whitsunday Community Enterprises and the Proserpine Chamber of Commerce.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’ve always had a strong affinity with people who work on the land. I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Maleny, on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and worked in banking for 21 years in rural places throughout Queensland. I moved to the Whitsundays with the bank and met my wife, who is a local lady. We settled here and have three children, all grown up now and living in the Mackay area.
I’ve been working for Canegrowers for the last 12 years, as District Manager for the Proserpine district. Canegrowers is a membership body which looks after the interest of local cane farmers who supply to the Proserpine Mill. We have about 160 growers who are members in the Proserpine area.
What does a typical day involve for you?
A typical day involves looking after our growers and attending to any of their general enquiries or concerns, such as getting permits to move machinery, supply commitments, obligations to the local mill or finding more water for irrigation purposes.
We provide administrative support to the local productivity company and I am secretary for several ancillary units that the industry operates under here in Proserpine. I run the day-to-day management of some of those companies, including irrigation cooperatives (groups of irrigators who get together and run schemes out of the Peter Faust Dam). This involves running their costings, budgets and collection of data for various government departments and Sunwater.
How does your work with Canegrowers link into the Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub?
Part of my general responsibilities is to assist growers with environmental issues, such as vegetation management and water quality. The sugar industry is very highly regulated and I am responsible for keeping the growers informed, which is where the connection to the Climate Hub is important. Our organisation has a policy around climate change and we want our members to be both aware of climate change and looking for ways to manage these risks over time.
How does your role as Panel Member contribute to the Climate Hub’s goals?
Part of my role through the Climate Hub is to put my members in touch with the local initiatives and projects that are underway. I am very interested in the Proserpine Heat Study and what this may mean for local growers. There may some significant overlap in their work and what they do which could contribute to the outcomes. I will certainly be keeping my members informed of this information as it becomes available.
A lot of the time these reports are done and sit on a shelf, however my role on the Climate Hub panel is a way we can get this information out to growers. As a representative of the agriculture industry, I want to see agriculture more involved in the climate change space. If we engage at a local level, we can transform some of this good research being done into digestible information for our growers and improve everyone’s understanding of climate change.