RAS man to take charge at Muchea

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

New WA Meat Industry Authority chief executive Andrew Williams believes his people skills are a key to helping sales at the Muchea Livestock Centre run smoother and with less of the chaos that prevailed at the complex last year.

The statutory body, responsible for the State's main livestock selling facility, came under criticism last March when a flood of deliveries caused mayhem, with buyers and sellers having to wait up to two days for their cattle to be weighed.

In the wake of the events, the former WAMIA head and the manager of the livestock logistics company responsible for Muchea both resigned.

But Mr Williams said there was a unanimous amount of goodwill among stakeholders to find solutions.

Just days before he begins his challenging new role in February, he said taking on the position came with a degree of fear and trepidation.

"Going into any new role there is always a degree of anxiety, about any new role," Mr Williams said.

"But I feel there is probably less fear and trepidation going into this role than in other things I have tackled in the past because there is more known about this role than other things I have done."

Mr Williams counts his experience working in the dairy industry during deregulation as an example of a previous challenge.

"That was certainly a very challenging time for me and I have learnt you can never make everybody happy but certainly by listening to people and understanding what their concerns are we certainly can make the operations as best we possibly can.

"I'm a great believer in that if you do the right thing and you do the right thing by people, and sometimes that means saying no to people, you get the right outcomes.

"But I'm not for one moment dismissing I have taken on a fair challenge. Hopefully my unusual background and skill will make me the right person to meet that challenge."

Mr Williams said he had a wealth of experience bringing people together to solve complex problems and "being able to break down those problems into simple and bite-size chunks".

He said he had been briefed about some strong stakeholder opinions on the operation of the centre in the past but believes a workable compromise could be reached.

"Its just about understanding where people are coming from and taking people seriously, but ultimately make decisions for what is in the best interests of the overall livestock centre and that will make most people happy," he said.

"Again I'm not expecting an easy run but I've worked in a lot of industries where my decisions will make or lose people millions of dollars and I've found people are sometimes very unhappy when they don't get their own way.

"But, to date, I've never come across anyone that I can't work with."

Mr Williams said his first task as chief executive would be to listen to and learn.

"I want to go and attempt to understand what the issues are at the saleyards. A lot of those issues in my experience come down to what those issues are and how people work together," he said.

"I will be working with the various stakeholders to try and work through them to accommodate as many of their objectives as possible."

Mr Williams said he would like to see all stakeholder work closely together.

"The different groups at the centre have different objectives and individually they do as well," he said.

"The agents, transporters and sellers have different objectives, so it's a matter of understanding what all of those objectives are to come together for a workable solution."

Mr Williams also said the proposal by livestock agents to change sale days seemed to make sense.

"Having said that, I also want to know what the implementation of that proposal would mean for all the other stakeholders," he said.

"Certainly on the surface the proposal seems sensible and (would) meet their objectives but certainly I will look forward to getting the opinions on the matter from the other stakeholders over the next few weeks and make sure that whatever is implemented is in the best interests of all the users of the centre."

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