AN urgent livestock industry meeting addressing the lack of State Government action towards completi

06 Dec, 2006 08:45 PM
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WorkSafe recently shut down the pig selling portion of Midland because the structure was considered old and unsafe.

The Cabinet approval means the WA Meat Industry Autho-rity (WAMIA) can now pro-ceed past the drawn-out second stage of the project and tender on the basis of a capped total cost limit.

Meeting spokesperson and Merino breeder Malcolm Edward called on the State Government to ensure it was transparent and consultative on all issues of cost, design and construction.

Mr Edward said another meeting would be held shortly after the tender process was completed.

Meeting participants ‹ including members of WAFarmers and PGA ‹ reiterated Mr Edward¹s comments and several hoped the announcement was more than mere appease-ment of the frustrated livestock industry.

Mr Edward said the meeting representatives would not hesitate to hold further meetings if the government slipped on its promise to get the Muchea saleyards project operational.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance acknowledged the saleyards issue had been a long and frustrating process for the industry.

The yards are estimated to cost more than $30 million but have not begun construction. Mr Chance would not confirm the capped total cost limit.

The Minister¹s reasoning for not disclosing the total cost was because it might get confused with construction costs, which included roadwork and land costs.

He said if the capped cost did get confused with construction costs it might affect the tender process.

WAMIA acting chief executive Dave Saunders said everything would be done to get the project underway but also refused to confirm the capped cost.

Mr Saunders said WAMIA had been working behind the scenes in the lead-up to Cabinet¹s decision. He said a work approval application for the Muchea project had been submitted to the Environ-ment and Conservation Department last week.

³This represents a huge investment for agriculture and government, so it has to be done properly,² Mr Saunders said. ³I think that is what delayed it.²

Dubbo-based stockyard construction company Atlex Stockyards, was appointed by the WAMIA in May to design the saleyards.

At the time, WAMIA said construction would start in October and be completed by about June 2007.

Atlex Stockyards managing director Ian Crafter said last week that the company had not been in any recent dialogue with the State Government regarding the design or construction date of the saleyards.

Mr Saunders told Farm Weekly this week that Atlex still had the tender for the design of the Muchea saleyards.

Mr Chance also announced this week, that any additional funds resulting in the eventual sale of the Midland complex would be made available to regional saleyards at Katanning, Plantagenet and a single South-West cattle facility.

Meanwhile, the Northam shire council is not backing down on its proposal to build their own sheep selling complex in the shire, despite Mr Chance¹s promise that the Muchea saleyards would go ahead.

The Northam Shire and Town councils met with Mr Chance last week to push their proposal.

A solution to WA¹s saleyard crisis was once again hindered by what many livestock produ-cers and agents say are extre-mely frustrating bureaucratic processes.

Northam Shire president Bert Llewellyn now has 11 Wheat-belt shires supporting the pro-posed Northam saleyards and believes the Northam proposal makes more economic sense now than ever before.

He said the Northam sale-yards would have been operatio-nal by now if the council had received more cooperation from the State Government.

Adequate saleyards in the Avon Valley has become a more pertinent issue following announcements early this year that two processors would establish operations in the region.

Linley Valley has proposed to demolish the old Tip Top abattoir at Wooroloo and build a sheep and cattle facility separate to the pig abattoirs.

The Boyle family in York was reportedly still on track to expand their feedlot capabilities and establish an abattoir.

Mr Llewellyn said both abattoirs would be within 36km of the saleyards.

³These are new developments and we put them to the Minister as reasons why some consideration should be given to us,² he said.

³And we got the typical government response ­ that Muchea was still going ahead.²

Mr Llewellyn said some Wheatbelt shires had been hesitant in supporting saleyards at Northam because the Muchea proposal remained unresolved.

The site for the proposed Northam saleyards has been cleared and a report on environmental and social impact has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Authority.

³But we¹ve got to the stage where we have stopped spending money until we have a reasonable indication we can go ahead,² Mr Llewellyn said.

³We are facing cost rises just like everyone else.²

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