Omodei heads Market City bid

Headshot of Sean Smith
Sean SmithThe West Australian

Farmer and former State Opposition Leader Paul Omodei will front the industry bid to buy WA's biggest wholesale produce markets in Canning Vale.

The appointment of Mr Omodei, who served almost 20 years in State Parliament as a Liberal before retiring in 2008, was announced to Market City's suppliers last Saturday.

It comes as the State Government and its advisers prepare to shortlist the bidders for the markets in the next few weeks.

The Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries is spearheading the industry bid, which is believed to face competition from property developers said to include Ascot Capital, Primewest and Eastcourt Property and, possibly, overseas suitors.

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Supplied by 440 wholesalers, the markets handle more than 40 per cent of WA's fruit and vegetable produce by volume.

The complex, the first in a round of privatisations aimed at reducing State debt, is expected to fetch up to $200 million.

Under conditions imposed by the Government, the new owner must continue to operate the central trading area as a fruit and vegetable market for the next 20 years.

However, the industry wants longer-term security.

_It fears that a non-industry buyer would force out the markets when the 20 years expire and redevelop the 50.9ha site for its land value, leaving suppliers to find a new home further from the city. _

Other privatised major markets in Brisbane and Adelaide have been a stand-out success.

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