Pastoralists keen on abattoir

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph
De Grey Station’s John Bettini, Karratha Station’s Andrew Cabassi, Leigh Black and Primaries livestock manager Paul Mahony at the Livestock Export Forum in Port Hedland last week.
Camera IconDe Grey Station’s John Bettini, Karratha Station’s Andrew Cabassi, Leigh Black and Primaries livestock manager Paul Mahony at the Livestock Export Forum in Port Hedland last week. Credit: North West Telegraph

Plans to build an abattoir in Port Hedland serving pastoralists in the Pilbara have been floated at a Live Export Forum.

Pastoralists and others considered the idea at the Pilbara Port Authority-organised forum at the ibis Styles last Wednesday.

The forum also included a tour of the port and shipment information by PPA live export manager Jon Giles, safety initiatives by PPA safety manager Todd Brewer, a Qube presentation by Matt Waddell, and a presentation from live exporter Austrex by Bill Andrews and Warrick Barrett.

Port Hedland feedlot co-owner Paul Brown said Port Hedland presented a perfect opportunity to boost the cattle industry.

“Certainly an abattoir is something myself and my partners have been considering for a long time — it’s something we have always had in the back of our minds as the demand for beef overseas continues to grow,” he said.

“We think there is an opportunity if the industry is interested, you’ve got a feedlot locally and a good population centre in Port Hedland — all roads lead south, export out of the port is possible. A slaughter and quarter facility, send it overseas where they can bone it at a cheaper price — it’s a value-add for the cattle industry.”

Karratha Station’s Andrew Cabassi said the industry was ready to increase production of cattle for live export and he would welcome an abattoir in the Pilbara.

“We’ve got water, we’ve got soil — if we can get an abattoir to go ahead that would provide employment for local people and make it cheaper for locals, it doesn’t even have to be a big one,” he said. “Naturally if the freight is right that’s what determines where our livestock go from the farm.”

All presentations mentioned animal welfare standards, a nod to recent footage of an August, 2017, live export voyage of sheep, and pastoralists discussed the consequences of a shutdown similar to the Federal Government’s live export ban in 2011.

Austrex northern export manager Mr Barrett said the industry had a good future.

“We are confident the industry has a good future,” he said.

“At the end of the day there is global demand for the product (beef) and there’s a lot of good pastoralists who do a good job producing it, so long-term we are big believers in the trade.

“Austrex ourselves don’t do sheep to the Middle East, obviously it’s an unfortunate incident ... my message is that exporters are very committed to animal welfare.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said animal welfare standards onboard live export vessels needed to be adhered to.

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