A MORTLAKE public meeting has confirmed Moyne Shire Council’s decision to take a region-wide approach on finding a replacement for Warrnambool’s livestock selling centre.
Following strong feedback from the 80-plus people who turned out on Wednesday night, the council will immediately seek state government funds for a detailed study into the best model for new saleyards to service the south-west.
“The crux of the meeting was people want us to work with all our neighbouring municipalities — to look at the big picture,” Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell said. “We will do a regional plan, rather than just look at one location or a single investor.
“Moyne will involve Warrnam-bool City, Glenelg, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Colac Otway shires and maybe Ballarat City.”
However, there is likely to be a stumbling block, with Corangamite already in discussions with Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) and Warrnambool City Council which has nominated RIPL as the preferred investor to find a replacement for its ageing saleyards infrastructure.
The issue has been soaked in controversy since the city council first indicated about five years ago that it was keen to end the historic practice of running municipal saleyards.
Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor said his shire supported the concept of a regional livestock selling centre, but preferred it to be in the municipality.
“We take the view that an industry is investing money and is best placed to decide,” Cr O’Connor said. “Our council is talking with RIPL and there is support from farmers and agents for our saleyards at Camperdown to be retained.”
Moyne has been frustrated in not being able to engage the city in discussions on the issue while the city has defended its stand-off style by saying it has the right to decide the future of its own yards.
Cr Purcell said the Mortlake meeting and a similar forum at Koroit last week showed strong feelings in the rural community.
“Saleyards are important to the region,” he said.
“We believe there are a number of regions which have gone through the process of getting a regional selling centre and we will be able to glean that knowledge.
“Our research report will be a great document for discussion with potential investors.”