Private saleyards operator keen for July 1 start

THE company chosen by Warrnambool City Council (WCC) to build and operate new saleyards has confirmed it wants to operate the existing Caramut Road facility by July 1 as an interim step.

Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) managing director Garry Edwards said operating the existing saleyards would allow it to engage with stakeholders, such as stock agents, to help guide its decisions about building and operating a new livestock centre.

Mr Edwards said his company had not heard anything from WCC to suggest that a July 1 start for its takeover was unacceptable.

Warrnambool stock agents last week expressed concern that RIPL might take over the saleyards from that date, saying they had not been consulted by the council on the move.

They stepped up their attack on the council this week, saying it should not give RIPL the go-ahead to operate the Warrnambool saleyards until the company had bought a site for a replacement and gained planning approval.

Their call brought new tension to the saleyards issue, with Mr Edwards saying RIPL would “under no circumstances” accept the conditions proposed by the agents.

Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Kieran Johnstone proposed the conditions, saying RIPL’s lengthy delay in building new saleyards in the Ballarat area highlighted the need for WCC to proceed slowly with any plan for RIPL to manage the Warrnambool saleyards.

Mr Johnstone said concerns expressed by Ballarat stock agents about new saleyards RIPL wanted to build at Miners Rest on the city’s northern outskirts showed the company was not “a proven performer”.

RIPL took over operation of the Ballarat saleyards four years ago as part of its contract with Ballarat City Council to build a replacement but has yet to start construction on the new facility.

Ballarat stock agents association president Gerry White said the new saleyards proposed by RIPL for Miners Rest were too small.

His association is also concerned about a RIPL proposal to run two store cattle sales a month at the new saleyards.

Mr White said increasing the number of store cattle sales to two a month would halve the number of cattle, clash with other sales and reduce buyer competition.

Mr Edwards hit back at the conditions proposed by Warrnambool stock agents for its takeover of the Caramut Road saleyards, saying their concerns were “uninformed”.

He said the company’s plans to build a new saleyards at Ballarat had been held up because it had delays in acquiring the land.

Mr Edwards said the company operated numerous saleyards and the four-year wait between taking over existing facilities and proceeding to build new ones was not unusual.

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