Saleyards saved

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Seven months after the $54.4 million Muchea saleyards were officially opened, the State Government has announced how it will spend the $21.5 million remaining in the kitty from the partial sale of Midland.

Premier Colin Barnett and Agriculture Minister Terry Redman were in Katanning last week to announce the carve-up.

The allocation includes $17 million for new saleyards in Katanning, $2.3 million to clear a debt held by the Plantagenet shire and $2.2 million to kick-start a replacement saleyard in Boyanup.

The cash is leftover from the sale of land at Midland in 2007. The saleyards sold for a reported $70 million.

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While Mr Redman is on the record saying that Treasury will have the final decision on how the Midland booty is spent, it has been estimated the total value of the old grounds could fetch something in the ballpark of $100 million.

While the remaining land at Midland is still being cleared and prepared for sale, it is welcome news to industry that the Government had finally committed to upgrading dilapidated yards in the South West.

Under the regional strategy, Katanning and Plantagenet shires will continue to own and operate their yards, but a private or government model is preferred by the Capel shire for Boyanup’s redevelopment.

Katanning’s new saleyard, estimated to cost $21.5 million, will be built at the Department of Agriculture and Food’s research farm — the Great Southern Agricultural Research Institute (GSARI).

The shire will cover the balance and is confident it will not reach the estimated cost, or face blowouts such as what occurred at Muchea.

Katanning shire president Richard Kowald said the region is keen to see the project go ahead and had been lobbying for the investment for more than eight years.

Plantagenet shire chief executive Rob Stewart said the shire and ratepayers would be more than happy with their share of the pie.

The shire wanted a minimum of $2.1 million to pay off loans after it purchased the City of Albany’s share of its yards as well as the cost of environmental works at the facility.

Mr Stewart said by paying off the loan the saleyards will be able to operate on an equal footing to Muchea.

Capel shire president Paul Sheedy said his wish for new yards is for a centrally located facility in the South West and away from residential areas. Two possible locations have been identified, including Capel and Dardanup.

Mr Sheedy said with only $21.5 million in the budget for regional yards, he knew long before the announcement that there is not enough for all three regional saleyard upgrades.

New yards at Boyanup are estimated to cost between $10–$12 million. Mr Sheedy said any funds allocated will be a step in the right direction and should prompt investment from the private sector.

Agents using Boyanup’s yards said in their current condition, they were capable of operating for another 2-4 years.

Mr Barnett said the regional community had been calling for improvements to the State’s saleyards for many years.

“The Liberal-National Government has taken action to ensure this industry has modern and efficient infrastructure and facilities to enable its growth and prosperity, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Redman said the investment would ensure WA’s yards featured high standards of occupational health and safety, environmental management and animal welfare.

“It will provide for contemporary facilities to ensure stock are efficiently processed for sale and presented in optimal condition, ” he said.

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