Ian William MacAulay passed away at his home in Jack River on January 4, aged 77.
He is survived by his wife, Roslyn.
His funeral was held at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Yarram, on January 12.
Mr MacAulay was an advocate for co-operatives, and in 2015, after he left the Murray Goulburn board, gave warnings about the drift by the milk processor away from a farmer-controlled company.
He led Murray Goulburn as chairman of the board between 1998 and 2009.
During his time as chair, Murray Goulburn’s turnover grew from $1.1 billion to $2.4 billion, milk volume grew from 2.4 billion litres to 3.3 billion litres (peaking before the drought and global financial crisis at 4.1 billion litres) and assets value lifted from $770 million to $1.6 billion.
When Mr MacAulay retired, Murray Goulburn was the major Australian dairy co-operative, the second largest dairy exporter in the world dairy market and continued to set the benchmark for milk pricing in south-eastern Australia.
By any objective measure the growth and development under Mr MacAulay’s leadership and Stephen O’Rourke’s management was spectacular despite the difficulties of the global financial crisis, a prolonged severe drought in northern Victoria and the arrival of multinational dairy competition in Australia.
In all Mr MacAulay spent 18 years on the board of Murray Goulburn. The culture of the co-operative appealed to him and suited his team approach and his principles of integrity and respect.
On his retirement Mr MacAulay commented that “these results were very much a reflection of the good management team in place at MG and the collegiate style of management. Making hard decisions when you have to, not getting too carried away with fanciful ideas and always trying to look after the farmers as best we can”.
Mr MacAulay was always aware of the privilege it was to serve his fellow farmers and the responsibility he held to do his best by them.
He enjoyed the relationships and interactions with staff and farmers alike. His management style reflected his personal values: quiet, considered and calm in a crisis, a good listener, a willing and interested learner, patient and above all a man of integrity.
Mr MacAulay was a passionate advocate for the co-operative and for its dairy farmer members and believed firmly that with good and careful management it was the best way of returning value to farmers.
As chair of Murray Goulburn in 2000, he played a key role, with Max Fehring, then president of the UDV, in establishing Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation.
Together they laid out the priorities and principles under which the foundation would operate and set about appointing the first board of directors and the inaugural chief executive officer.
Mr MacAulay was a non-executive director of the foundation from its inception in 2000 and served three three-year terms on the board, retiring in 2010. During his time on the board Mr MacAulay was chair of the Community Development Steering Committee, chair of the Community Development Selection Panel for Major Projects and Small Projects, committee member for the Gardiner – FRRR grants evaluation / assessment and on the Dairy Scholarships selection panel.
Mr MacAulay’s intelligence and business acumen always ensured that any decision the board was to take had gone through lengthy scrutiny and all the necessary questions had been asked and answered.