23 Oct 2023

Debbie McDonald's life has always revolved around numbers, and it is with this accuracy that she bids farewell to North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) after exactly 43.5 years of dedicated service.

Starting her journey as a 19-year-old Ledger Machinist to now being in the role of Financial Reporting Officer, Debbie reflects on some of the most remarkable milestones of her career.

These include the construction of the marina and grain silos at the Port of Mackay, and the transition to remote work during the pandemic. Yet, one memory stands out above the rest – a first-strike oil spill response vessel bearing her name.

“The Debbie Mc will be around long after I leave and that is a huge honour having a boat named after me. That would be one of the biggest honours for me during my time with NQBP,” Debbie said.

Debbie's dedication to her colleagues extended beyond her regular duties, particularly in her role as a union delegate, which is another of her proudest accomplishments.

“I first became a union delegate in 1994 and was proud to be a part of uniforming conditions across the workforce,” Debbie said.

“I am also very proud to have helped expand the shipping roster and lines handling from the blue-collar workforce to also including office workers, women, and apprentices.”

Her commitment to fundraising is also an outstanding part of her career and was inspired by a colleague's battle with ovarian cancer.

“A long-term colleague passed away very quickly from ovarian cancer in 2012 so it was a shock for everyone,” Debbie said.

“Another friend came up with the idea that we could do the Relay for Life to honour her, and it just started from there.

“Each year we were looking to do different activities and I decorate my home for Christmas. I thought maybe I could invite people to look at my decorations. This is how I came up with the idea of having a high tea at home.

“I am now in my eleventh year doing the high teas, which has helped raise more than $32,000 for cancer research and treatment.”
As she says goodbye to her long and fulfilling career, Debbie shared her gratitude for the supportive work environment.

"I've always felt respected and valued. I think that is because of the way I have carried myself and behaved. I hope that I am remembered like that."

NQBP CEO Brendan Webb thanked Debbie for her remarkable contribution to the Queensland Port Authority.

“It is with heartfelt appreciation that we celebrate the end of Debbie’s time at NQBP,” Mr Webb said.

“Her legacy has left an incredible mark on the organisation and all who have had the privilege of working alongside her.”

NQBP CFO Belinda Kenny echoed the long-lasting impact Ms McDonald will leave on the organisation.

“Debbie has not only displayed an impressive work ethic and professionalism but also demonstrated a deep sense of care and advocacy for her colleagues,” Ms Kenny said.

“Her legacy is etched into the very fabric of NQBP’s workplace.”

Debbie has stepped into a new and exciting chapter of her life as of today Monday 23 October 2023. Her plans for retirement include crafting, volunteering, fundraising, gardening, seeing her family more and a trip to the UK.


Image 1: Financial Reporting Officer Debbie McDonald has witnessed many remarkable milestones during her 43.5-year career in ports.
Image 2: Debbie McDonald's fondest memory is having an NQBP first-strike oil response vessel named in her honour.