THE live export industry is disappointed the Broome Stockyards are being dismantled despite it gaining a moratorium on a rent increase until the end of the year.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association meat section chair-man Tim D’Arcy said he had a meeting with Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan on Sunday and she had agreed to place a restriction on any rent increase until the end of 2007.
“We thought that would give us time to look at the situation and maybe resolve the issues that led to Broome Stockyards shutting down,” Mr D’Arcy said.
“Since then we have found out that the yards’ owner Avon Price had cancelled his export licence and had already begun to dismantle the yards.”
The yards are located on port land one kilometre from loading facilities, but rising rent costs had forced the operator to shut the gate on the operation.
Mr D’Arcy said the closure of the Broome Stockyards would put pressure on the loading of the bigger vessels at the port of Broome.
“Some of those ships can take 6000 cattle and while there are private yards up there that could hold up to 4000 head, none have the proximity the Broome Stockyards had to the port,” he said.
“Because Broome is a very tidal port, the closeness of the Broome Stockyards enabled loading to be done on a tide and there could now be significant delays in loading.
“We could now see cattle having to spend more time on trucks as they come straight to the boats from the stations.”
Mr D’Arcy said the export industry needed assistance if priority continued to be given to the mining and resources sector at ports across WA.
“WA has a growing live export industry and those markets need to be serviced,” he said.
WA Live Exporters Association chairman John Edwards said 80,000 cattle were shipped out of Broome from January to December last year.
“In terms of numbers of cattle shipped, Broome is the second biggest port in WA after Fre-mantle,” Mr Edwards said.
“Live exports also earn a lot of money for Broome.”
Mr Edwards said while there were still a couple of depots in Broome for live exporters to use to rest cattle, none were as close to the port as the Broome Stockyards.
“The beauty of the Broome Stockyards is that they were very close to the port and ani-mals were able to be rested, fed and watered if delays did occur to vessels berthing,” he said.
Mr Edwards said the trade was concerned at the priority given to the resource sector.
“This is a blow to the indus-try,” he said. “It seems to be getting treated as second rate, yet it contributes enormously to the state.
“Pastoralists in the lower Kimberley and Pilbara would not survive without the live export industry and Broome, especially, is a very important port for them.”