Saleyard relocation obstacle removed

Rueben HaleCountryman

Quarters of the WA livestock industry have welcomed certainty over plans to replace the Boyanup saleyards.

Some industry representatives who attended a recent roundtable meeting to discuss ideas for replacing the facility last week accused Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan of showing a “lack of interest” in discussing their ideas.

The ageing facility has been a burning issue for the South West for many years. Ahead of last year’s election, the McGowan Government promised to work with the Shire of Capel to find a suitable location for a livestock precinct to replace the current Boyanup saleyards.

Ms MacTiernan is in favour of the private sector building and operating the new saleyard and there are growing suggestions within the industry that a package involving the Muchea Livestock Centre may be included to attract potential investors.

During the tense discussions at the roundtable event, Ms MacTiernan would not commit to a project timeline.

She also ruled out Kemerton Industrial Park, near Bunbury, as a possible location, saying plans were already in place to use the land for a lithium plant.

John Mitchell, owner of Waroona-based livestock transport company Mitchell Transport, said with Kemerton no longer an option, a major obstacle had been removed.

“When there was a debate about the relocation of the Midland saleyards, the issue dragged on for many years, so to have that point dealt with is a significant step forward in my opinion,” he said. “It is also good news that the Government intends to take its time and look at the best model going forward, rather than rushing in and making hasty decisions, which may not turn out to be in the long-term best interests for users.”

Harvey Beef livestock man-ager Kim McDougall said he supported a well-considered saleyard approach, which would be a significant benefit to store cattle market sellers and buyers.

“Boyanup saleyards is not as business critical for processing operations as it once was because we have to plan well forward to achieve consistent supply of cattle each week,” he said.

“But there is a definite need for a business model and facility design to assist the smaller to medium operators.”

Ms MacTiernan said users of a new facility could expect to be charged higher fees.

“We will look at mechanisms used elsewhere to ensure fees remain acceptable,” she said.

“But at the end of the day, saleyards need to keep customers happy. Experience in the Eastern States is that while modern facilities charge more, the animals attract better prices because they do not lose condition in the yards.”

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