Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Pegg, George (1927–1987)

by Dawn May

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

George Pegg, 1976

George Pegg, 1976

Cairns Post,

George Pegg (1927-1987), meatworks manager, was born on 15 July 1927 at Beenleigh, Queensland, elder of twin boys adopted by Frederick James Pegg, an old-age pensioner born in England, and his Queensland-born wife Florence Frances, née Barnes.  Educated at Baralaba State School in central Queensland, George began work as a junior floor-hand at the Lakes Creek Meatworks, Rockhampton.  On 21 May 1949 at the Methodist Church, Emu Park, he married with Presbyterian forms Jean Constance Edmistone, a nurse.  Rising through the ranks to management level, and after brief stints in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, he moved to Cairns in 1959 to take up the post of production manager at Cairns Meat Export Co. Pty Ltd’s Queerah Meatworks.  The company was a subsidiary of Amagraze Ltd.  In 1960 the meatworks was the first in Australia to adopt the 'can-pak' system of processing beef, which involved, after slaughter, the boning of carcasses as they moved along an overhead rail.  This proved to be an important innovation when, in the 1960s, beef exports to the United States of America increased substantially.  However, the introduction into the boning room of a tally system became the basis of industrial disputation.

In 1961 Pegg became plant manager; he was later also general manager of Cairns Meat Export Co.  There was constant conflict between the company and the unions over award wage rates and conditions as well as the tally system; Pegg, in his white dust coat, became a recognised sign of industrial action in the workplace.  From 1968 he also oversaw the development of a prawn-processing enterprise.  Prawns were initially purchased from trawlers operating out of Cairns but in 1971 the company established a depot at Karumba, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, to buy stock from fishermen based there.  The prawns were then transported to Queerah, where up to 360 casual workers processed them in a highly mechanised factory.  Sometime president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Fishing Industry Council, in the 1970s he expressed concern about the need for conservation of fish stocks.  F. J. Walker Ltd bought out Amagraze in 1972 and immediately redeveloped the meatworks and the prawning activities at Karumba and Cairns.  Warmly regarded by his employees despite the regular industrial conflict that occurred under his management, Pegg retired in 1983 and was appointed MBE.

Pegg was an active member of service clubs, including Rotary and Lions, and helped to raise money for the Miss Australia and Nurse of the Year quests.  For several years he was president of the Cairns Jockey Club.  Divorced in 1970, on 16 September 1972 at Cairns he married with Presbyterian forms Catherine Myrtle Blight, a clerk.  In 1984 he moved to Capalaba, Brisbane, where he enjoyed gardening and coin collecting.  Survived by his wife and the two sons and two daughters of his first marriage, he died of myocardial infarction on 18 November 1987 at Coopers Plains and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Cairns Post, 12 December 1987, p 17
  • P. Ryle, Innovation and Change in the Australian Meat Export Industry (BA Hons thesis, James Cook University, 1996)
  • private information

Citation details

Dawn May, 'Pegg, George (1927–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pegg-george-15059/text26258, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 23 August 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2019

George Pegg, 1976

George Pegg, 1976

Cairns Post,