North QLD farm building accommodation for up to 50 workers with RED Grant

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Mackays workers.

19 September 2023

North Queensland banana, sugar cane, and cattle operation Mackays is diversifying into new produce and building rural accommodation for up to 50 workers thanks to a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant. 

Mackays Chief Executive Officer Alex Hutton said the enterprise was installing 17 self-contained transportable buildings at its Lakeland property to help remove the risk of production interruptions due to labour and accommodation shortages.

“The on-farm accommodation is necessary to provide the existing and expanding workforce a reliable form of accommodation and is a critical component in facilitating the farms expansion and achieving its future productive capability," he said.

“This in turn will assist in employee attraction and retention and streamline on and off farm supporting operations for the business."

The purpose-built accommodation will create up to 20 full-time, direct jobs, with construction expected to be completed by next year. 

“The project directly facilitates the creation of new roles of varying skillsets including general farm labour roles, agronomists, fuel, chemical and nutrient suppliers, aerial operators, and consultants, in addition to those roles required to manage the accommodation precinct, such as site manager and cleaners.”

The fourth-generation family business with farms at Lakeland and Tully is also planning an expansion into a range of new crops including avocadoes, cowpeas, and irrigated cotton. 

Mackays is one of 24 businesses approved for the fifth round of the competitive RED grants program with a total funding of $3.9 million. Overall, the fifth round of the RED Grants program is expected to create up to 215 direct, long-term jobs.

Grants are available for up to $200,000 with a 50 percent cash contribution requirement from applicants to fund projects which generate economic and employment opportunities related to primary production value chains across rural and remote Queensland.

Over five years, the Palaszczuk Government’s RED Grants program has provided a total of $13.3 million in funding to support 59 successful regional agribusiness projects, worth more than $52.4 million and estimated to create over 2,500 new direct and indirect jobs.

A sixth round of RED Grants, supporting Indigenous-owned agribusinesses and projects aimed at low-emissions agriculture, has been allocated for the 2023-24 financial year, with applications to open later this year.  

For more information about the RED Grant scheme page

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Primary producer
Central Coast & Whitsundays North Queensland

Last updated: 20 September 2023