Council faces abattoir row
Claims of Chinese ‘ sellout’ rejected
CLAIMS by Channel 7’ s Sunday Night program that Charters Towers Regional Council plans to sell out the region to Chinese investors have been rubbished by Mayor Frank Beveridge.
The segment was downplayed by Cr Beveridge ( pictured), who said while it was an emotive issue, the insinuation there would be no jobs for locals if an abattoir was built were “absolute rubbish”. He also emphasised council had no intention of selling the Dalrymple Saleyards.
“They suggested the Chinese would own the saleyards and we have been adamant the saleyards have never been for sale,” he said.
Overseas investment in the Charters Towers region was put under the spotlight in the 24- minute broadcast. In the segment, Channel 7 drew attention to the plight of the region’s graziers and claimed “cashed- up foreign investors” were on a shopping spree to buy cheap, drought- afflicted land for overseas gain.
Council, alongside Townsville Port, has been negotiating with Huizhou City, Huizhou Port and Guangdong Logistic Industry Association investors to build a meatworks locally and establish a cattle trade route from North Queensland to southern China.
In the segment, reporter Chris Bath said during an interview with business adviser John Codrington it was the intentions of foreign investors to “own the farm, own the saleyards and own the transportation” and that “no Australians ( were) needed” in this process.
Jim and Kym Whelan – whose properties Koolatah and Dixie were devalued in 2011 after the drought and live export ban – shared their story on the program. The Whelans were forced to sell Koolatah, but it sold to a local.
Cr Beveridge said council wanted a meatworks to create jobs and push up the cattle price.
“( The low price) has been a problem in the grazing industry for the last 10- 20 years,” he said. “Graziers have not been able to make a decent living.’’
Kennedy MP Bob Katter told Sunday Night foreign investment was “selling your country off”.
Cr Beveridge said he was surprised by Mr Katter’s change of heart towards foreign purchasers. “I was most surprised to see Bob Katter be anti- meatworks when I saw him claiming on the front page of The Northern Miner [ January 15] he had secret Asian investors coming to town to build an abattoir,” Cr Beveridge said.