The stand-off con­tin­ues with the cat­tle sale can­celled again this week -

‘No res­o­lu­tion in sight’ with coun­cil dis­pute

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - CANDYCE BRAITH­WAITE Candyce.braith­waite@apn.com.au

LIVELI­HOODS de­pend on the weekly cat­tle sale at Casino.

For the sec­ond week in a row, the sale was can­celled, pend­ing a res­o­lu­tion over an agents busi­ness us­age fee of $1 per head of cat­tle, im­posed by the Rich­mond Val­ley Coun­cil.

The Casino Auc­tion­eers As­so­ci­a­tion re­fused to pay the new charge, which the coun­cil says is cru­cial for it to meet its re­pay­ments on the $3.5 mil­lion it has bor­rowed as part of a $14 mil­lion up­grade of the fa­cil­ity.

It re­sponded to the agents’ re­fusal last week with a “lock­out”, can­celling sales.

Live­stock agent Glenn Weir of Ian Weir and Sons said he’d like to see the is­sue re­solved sooner rather than later for the com­mu­nity’s sake.

“A few Casino cat­tle have come across to Lis­more to be sold,” he said.

“Peo­ple have to sell for a num­ber of rea­sons, ei­ther they are out of feed or have bills to pay.

“I think hav­ing Lis­more as an op­tion prob­a­bly helps in a way to keep costs down in Casino.

“The mo­nop­oly doesn’t do any­one any good and in years to come when the new Casino fa­cil­ity is up and run­ning, Lis­more will still be there as an­other op­tion.”

By the time the Ru­ral Weekly went to print there was still no res­o­lu­tion in sight, de­spite both par­ties expressing a keen de­sire for an agree­ment.

As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Matthew McCor­mack said the sales ban was start­ing to hurt both agents and pro­duc­ers and coun­cil gen­eral man­ager Vaughan Mac­don­ald said he was “very aware” of the im­pact the stale­mate was hav­ing on the com­mu­nity.

Mr Mac­don­ald said the coun­cil was con­scious of the need to find a path­way for­ward.

It is un­der­stood the as­so­ci­a­tion met on Mon­day night and there had been “a bit of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with coun­cil”, said one agent, who be­lieved the group had “come up with some­thing and were ask­ing coun­cil to get back to them”. In the past 24 hours “some pos­i­tive signs have ap­peared”, said an­other.

How­ever, on Tues­day, Mr McCor­mack said “noth­ing had been worked out”.

“They knocked us back and haven’t come back with a plan,” he said.

“Some­thing has got to give, for the best in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity.”

Mr McCor­mack said the ball was in the coun­cil’s court.

“We want to see some sort of pro­posal. We want to get back there. Our pay is start­ing to dwin­dle. It’s got dry and peo­ple are need­ing to sell cat­tle and we are need­ing to buy cat­tle too.” In a state­ment on Tues­day af­ter­noon, Mr Mac­don­ald said be­fore sales could re­turn to the NRLX, an agent was needed to sign a selling per­mit to run the sale.

“The coun­cil had been open and trans­par­ent in its deal­ings with agents and has met with them on many oc­ca­sions over the past 18 months, and has been dis­cussing new fee struc­tures as far back as Novem­ber 2016,” the state­ment read.

“Dis­cus­sions have also been held with coun­cil’s Sa­le­yards Ad­vi­sory Group which in­cludes agents and other rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“Coun­cil com­mu­ni­cated the fee in­creases widely through­out April, May and June... The op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress coun­cil was also avail­able.”

He ac­knowl­edged the cost in­crease to agents but said with $259 mil­lion in cat­tle sales over the past three years and the prom­ise of a state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity, it was rea­son­able and af­ford­able.

On the Dar­ling Downs ru­mours about the sale of the War­wick Sa­le­yards have fu­elled fears of a price hike for ven­dors at the selling cen­tre.

South­ern Downs Regional Coun­cil in June be­gan an ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est process for the man­age­ment of the sa­le­yards.

The pos­si­bil­ity of a pri­vate com­pany tak­ing over the sa­le­yards has sparked con­cerns of a steep in­crease in user fees at the coun­cil-owned fa­cil­ity.

Michael Nowlan of Nowlan Stock and Station Agents said many agents and res­i­dents he had spo­ken to did not sup­port the sa­le­yards chang­ing hands.

“We would like it to stay in (the) coun­cil's con­trol be­cause once it leaves the hands of (the) coun­cil it does seem like it would be un­clear who is ac­tu­ally in con­trol,” Mr Nowlan said.

“From the peo­ple I’ve talked to they’re not sure where this is com­ing from; it’s gone through the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee but the pub­lic and agents have been left largely in the dark.

“It’s a mu­nic­i­pal sa­le­yards and it’s def­i­nitely a money maker for the town so we would like to see it stay in the coun­cil's con­trol.

“War­wick is in a great lo­ca­tion and it doesn't need to be a big su­per cen­tre, it just needs to be ti­died up a bit.”

Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Digby Hildreth.

Stay up-to-date on the is­sue at www.ru­ral­weekly.com.au.

We want to see some sort of pro­posal. We want to get back there. — Matthew McCor­mack

NO SALE: Farm­ers’ con­cerns are grow­ing as the stand­off over the Casino Sa­le­yards en­ters its sec­ond week.

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