Saleyards survey closes next week

Warwick Saleyards.

A Southern Downs Regional Council survey seeking community views on the future of the Warwick Saleyards closes next Wednesday 2 December.

The survey can be completed on line at www.sdrc.qld.gov.au and hard copies of the survey are also available at Council Administration buildings and the saleyards.

As reported in the Free Times the council’s Saleyards Advisory Committee – made up of external industry representatives and council staff – in October voted unanimously in favour of building a new saleyards facility on an as-yet unidentified ‘greenfield’ site.

The council itself is yet to make a final decision on the future of the Warwick Saleyards but Mayor Vic Pennisi has said councillors will discuss an internal “business case” at the December round of meetings.

The previous council administration under former Mayor Tracy Dobie commissioned consultants Wiley & Co to compile an options report and ‘master plan’ in 2019 but costings – including cost estimates of developing a brand new saleyards – were not released by that administration and have also remained ‘commercial in confidence’ during the term of the new council elected in April of this year.

In a statement released last month the council said “community consultation will play a significant role when Southern Downs Regional Council considers the options for the future of the iconic Warwick Saleyards”.

“In 2019, Council commissioned the Warwick Saleyards Master Plan which addressed the sustainability of the current facility and made recommendations on future business operations,” a spokeswoman said.

Cr Pennisi said “council is considerably invested in the Warwick Saleyards Master Plan and would be guided by recommendations from this report, the Saleyards Business Case and the Saleyards Advisory Committee, as well as community and industry consultation”.

“Council is committed to the region’s livestock industry and maintaining a sustainable and competitive market position for our saleyards,” Cr Pennisi said.

“The current saleyards are reaching the end of their operational life without a significant investment.

“Our operations are not as efficient as other facilities in the broader region and we don’t make use of the modern practices and technology that is available to drive greater efficiency and benefits for the region.

“Council has had various reports presented to them over time to reinforce this situation and to advise Council on the future direction they should take.

“The Master Plan and Business Case are several platforms to base our decision making on and they highlight crucial issues which we have no choice but to address.

“There are many options on the table and I wish to take this opportunity to reassure the community that we are not considering leasing or selling the saleyards.

“They will remain a Council owned asset, managed and maintained by Council for the community until the community tells us otherwise.

“The future of the saleyards is a significant and strategic decision and we will consider all the options in consultation with the community and livestock industry.

“In reviewing the future of the saleyards, we will consider the facility’s viability and sustainability, animal welfare, environmental issues, industry standards, biosecurity, traffic management, information technology and workplace health and safety.

“The Warwick Saleyards have been a major pillar in the identity of the Southern Downs for nearly 60 years and we need to ensure our region has a quality and progressive facility which meets animal welfare requirements and industry best practice standards.

“These saleyards are iconic to the Southern Downs.”

• The Warwick Saleyards survey can be completed on line at www.sdrc.qld.gov.au and https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SXMH8WD.

• Hard copies of the survey are also available at Council Administration buildings and the saleyards.

• The survey closes at midnight Wednesday 2 December 2020.