Super sheds no good for WA

22 Jan, 2004 07:00 PM
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WA WOOL industry representatives have rejected a proposal to build a network of super shearing sheds around the nation to provide savings for farmers and a safe and comfortable work environment for shearers.

The proposal, following hot on the heels of the failed $6m Shear Express adventure, was aired by Australian Workers Union Victorian representative Sam Beechey, mainly for Victorian growers.

Using Hamilton, Victoria as an example, he said there were four million sheep in a 50km radius.

And while the idea may have some merit in Victoria, WAFarmers wool section president Dale Park ruled it out for WA because of greater distances between existing sheds and transport costs.

"The logistics involved don't bear thinking about," Mr Park said.

"It might work in Victoria but it would cost at least $2 head to truck the sheep in and $1 head to truck them out almost anywhere in WA."

"And as soon as you make it into an industrial-type setup you are going to strengthen the union, you've also got public perception in terms of shipping sheep around as well."

Mr Park said the main challenge confronting the shearing industry was to come up with a way of taking the bending action out of shearing, which was what the Shear Express project had tried to do.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association wool chairman Digby Stretch said while he encouraged new ways of thinking to help the shearing industry, super sheds was not the solution.

"The costs, logistics and the biosecurity issues would preclude it from working in the WA woolbelt," Mr Stretch said.

"You would be trucking full-wool sheep and you've got soiling and drainage all sorts of issues there."

Other concerns would be trucking home and handling freshly backlined sheep.

Even AWU WA organiser Chris Falls rejected the idea for WA conditions.

"It could possibly work in Victoria where everything's close, but it just wouldn't happen here," Mr Falls said.

Mr Beechey said building the super sheds would create better conditions for shearers, which he said was the single biggest obstacle to attracting more shearers into the industry.

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