Mike Norton receives high Australia Day honour for service to livestock industry

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Michael Norton has received an OAM for his service to the livestock industry.
Camera IconMichael Norton has received an OAM for his service to the livestock industry. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

Capel’s Mike Norton was not sure whether to accept his OAM for services to the livestock industry but ultimately he did on behalf of all the hard work done by people around him.

“The letter asks whether or not you are prepared to accept the honour,” he said.

“I thought very hard about saying no because it can be embarrassing to get the award when you know there are many people out there who have done just as much as me without the recognition.

“I’ll accept it on behalf of the whole industry and all my mates that have been around me along the way.”

Mr Norton has spent his life on a cattle farm south of Capel and found his way into the “agri-political” industry when the local sale yards were shut down in the 1960s.

“Our branch of the farmers union was defunct and I was one of the people that stepped up,” he said.

“I then came up through the ranks from a branch level, to zone, to executive, to state and then interstate.”

He was a WA delegate on the Cattle Council of Australia from 1989 to 2008, was vice-president for five years and is a former treasurer.

From 2008-2012 he was president of WAFarmers as well being senior vice-president for two years.

Within WAFarmers he also held many other different roles including two stints as president of the meat section, was given a distinguished service award in 2004 and was made a life member in 2015.

“On reflection I’ve always been very fortunate to have a lot of good people around me and an organisation like WAFarmers,” Mr Norton said.

“I became a part of a team, a family, a group that was singly focused on getting positive outcomes for a particular industry — in my case that was livestock with sheep and cattle.”

He said the size of his business allowed him to do so much because it could be difficult at times to play a big role in Canberra when based in WA.

“I think if you’ve got the skills and ability then you should step up to do it but it can come at a cost,” he said.

“A lot of farms are just one man or very small operations and they find it impossible to step up to the plate.

“At that top level it was people who had large enough operations which enabled them to do it.”

His sons do most of the heavy lifting on the Capel farm now but he is always happy to offer advice.

He doesn’t think they’ll follow him into the political side of the industry.

“It usually doesn’t happen like that because they’ve seen what their old man did and it was all too hard,” he said.

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