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  • He fought the government, and the government didn’t win


    In a series of articles published in partnership with MacDonnells Law, we talk to the firm's clients about solutions to business problems.

    If agriculturalist Mark Reppel has one piece of advice for emerging business owners, it is this: “the sun will still rise tomorrow”.

    When it comes to running his family business Repstar Agriculture, Mark has learnt that nothing is ever quite as bad – or as good – as you may think.

    Still, there are occasions when things go from bad to worse. Just ask Mark. In recent times, two of Repstar’s properties were unjustifiably shut down under quarantine regulations by Biosecurity Queensland.

    Knowing something wasn’t right, it was at this point Mark realised he needed serious help from a respected law firm capable of providing practical solutions. His choice has long been the team at MacDonnells Law.

    “The prospect of losing our livelihood was not easy to deal with but was made more difficult considering we had genuine concerns over the validity of the test results used to close us down,” Mark said. “The pressure applied to us by Government was enormous, but MacDonnells Law methodically exposed the flaws which eventually resulted in Biosecurity Queensland admitting they had made a mistake.

    “Without doubt, this was the most distressing period in our business history and having MacDonnells Law in our corner was the smartest decision we made.”

    Q&A with Repstar Agriculture’s Mark Reppel

    Give our readers some background on your company and the work you do.

    Our company Repstar Agriculture has been a diversified grower and manager of many crops. Based in Mareeba, our core business has always been bananas but over the years we have grown, managed or developed properties with macadamia, avocado, sugar cane, biofuel, cashew and poultry. At one stage we had well over 1500 acres of irrigated horticulture and around 80 staff to look after. Having divested several farms over the years, we are now focused on bananas and employ around 22 staff year round. All of our staff are locals and have been with us for years.

    If you had three top tips for new business owners, what would they be?
    Look forward without forgetting lessons learnt. Respect those who have gone before you. Treat your staff with humility and respect. Let them make some mistakes. We all have, so long as we learn from them. Remember that things are never quite as bad (or as good) as you may think. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

    What are some examples of issues that MacDonnell’s Law have helped your company with?
    We have purchased and sold several significant businesses and properties, both in the north as well as South East Queensland.
    MacDonnells Law do much more than just the legal side of the transaction. MacDonnell’s partner Luckbir Singh has a very commercial mind and is terrific at structuring a deal which not only ensures his clients receive the best return for their business and not just ensure correct disclosure to provide protections from any future legal issues, but more importantly keeps his focus on the end goal, which is deal settlement. There have been many occasions where I’ve seen others have a great deal on the table, two willing participants but ultimately a failed settlement due to small issues not being attended to. If you want your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed, MacDonnells is the firm.
    Employment laws are difficult to keep up with and we pride ourselves on treating our staff right. We have used MacDonnells many times to ensure we are acting in accordance with the law as well as in a manner that shows our respect for our staff. It is comforting to know that we can hold our heads high when it comes to our HR responsibilities.

    Why is it important for business owners to get reliable, solutions-focused legal advice?
    Solutions focused results cannot be under-estimated. The legal arena is littered with broken business owners who have engaged a firm more interested in the fight than the solution.
    To be able to honestly and openly discuss the risks, rewards and costs of any legal issue allows you to make an informed decision and then own the outcome. As business owners this is what we are about. Assess the risks, take action and own the results.