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TAS Country : September 9th 2010
32 Tasmanian Country Friday, September 10, 2010 Opinion DEDICATion: Renowned Department of Primary Industries North-West Coast veterinary officer Rick Campbell prepares for a well earned retirement. Picture: CHRIS KIDD A vet's lasting impression CHEWS theFAT David Byard I often wonder if people like Rick Campbell are actually appreciated. I certainly hope so.' RICK Campbell was a veterinary officer with the Department of Primary Industries on the North West Coast but has opted for retirement. Rick's departure will be a great loss to the department and anybody who has had any dealings with him would agree that is the sort of man people mean when they talk about someone being a ''gentleman and a scholar''. Rick started as a vet on the North West Coast in 1981, when his duties included on-farm disease investigation and post mortems on all sorts of animals --- from horses right through to sheep. At that stage there were four veterinary officers, 12 stock and technical support officers, in areas west of Deloraine. Things have changed drastically over the years, to the point where there was one veterinary officer and two technical support people. Rick no longer does post mortems or slops around the paddocks. Most of his work over the past couple of years was dealing with exports of livestock, sheep and cattle, animal health programs and management on a state and federal level. As a state representative on national bodies, Rick always had a suitcase packed and ready to go, such was the regularity of his travels. And in his time spent as a representative he seems to have built up a very solid and well- deserved reputation. In 2001, when foot-and-mouth disease struck England again, the British government contacted all Commonwealth governments asking for assistance. The Australian Government contacted stock experts from all the states to assist with investigations of the disease in the UK and sent five from Tasmania. One expert would make the trip for a month, so one person from the department went at any given time over five months. Two stock officers and three veterinary officers made the trip. Rick's turn came in June, 2001, and by that time the worst of the crisis was over --- most of the stock was destroyed in March and April. Upon arriving in London, Rick was instructed to go to the Ministry for Agriculture Fisheries and Food, where he had to get registration to work as a veterinary officer in England and after that sign forms under the Official Secrets Act. Rick was then given a sealed envelope with instructions and found a taxi waiting to take him to the railway station. He still giggles about the sealed envelope and how the clerks treated the situation with such secrecy. He was one of 13 people who went to Carlisle, and on the train trip he was amazed at the green paddocks with nothing grazing --- the stock had simply been destroyed. One thing that interested him was the deer population, which was affected by the disease but wasn't spreading it. Rick's first day in Carlisle was spent filling in even more forms and collecting phones, transport, tags and identification cards. Two days later, after arriving from Australia, he was finally put into action assisting an affected farm with its clean-up. He was one of the first officials to see farmers after they'd had their herd destroyed. Rick said all the farmers he met were terrific and were very welcoming when they learned that he was an Australian. And although some were angry and upset, with the sort of personality that Rick has you could see how he got people on side. One of the farmers he came across had been in quarantine for two weeks. The farmer and his family had been forced to stay on the farm while their dead stock were left lying around in paddocks decomposing. Another farmer told him to learn what he could and make sure the crisis did not happen in Australia. One farmer Rick assisted had all his animals killed from an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 1967, only to have them destroyed again in 2001. These people had spent generations building their herds up and having them eradicated twice within 40 years would have been a troubling experience. Rick's time working in the UK during the foot- and-mouth outbreak left a lasting impression. He still keeps in contact with some of the people he met and would love to go back after his retirement. These days, Rick has taken on emergency and response planning and a lot of his thinking has been shaped by the experience in England. In retirement, Rick will sit back and smell the roses for a while. He plans to visit his children on the mainland and take a well earned rest. I just hope the knowledge that Rick Campbell had built up over the years of working in the industry has been captured or passed on by the department so others can learn from his vast experience. I often wonder if people like Rick Campbell are actually fully appreciated. I certainly hope so!
September 2nd 2010
September 16th 2010