November 25, 2020
South Burnett Regional Council will maintain its ownership of the Coolabunia Saleyards but will draw up a five-year plan aimed at reinvigorating the facility.
The plan will include a revised schedule of fees and charges to ensure the saleyards remain profitable.
It will also look the best ownership structure for the facility, and include a capital works program to guide future upgrades.
At Wednesday’s Council meeting, Mayor Brett Otto said the saleyards had been put out to tender in July in accordance with a decision made by the former Council prior to the March election.
The decision to call tenders was made in the hope of finding a commercial operator who would upgrade the facility as well as handle its day-to-day operations.
Mayor Otto said accepting any of the three offers Council had received would incur a substantial financial loss for ratepayers.
He was also aware of recent community concern that disposal of the site to a private owner could jeopardise its future.
This was because a new owner could close the saleyards and use the land for other purposes if they wished.
For these reasons, he moved that Council reject all tender offers, retain ownership of the saleyards and move to put the business on a proper commercial footing.
This motion was seconded by Cr Kathy Duff.
“I think the community will be happy with our recommendation,” Cr Duff said.
“There was a lot of concern in the community about the potential risks of the operation falling into private hands.”
Cr Kirstie Schumacher held the same view.
“I absolutely agree that we prioritise the saleyards going into the future,” Cr Schumacher said.
“It’s an enormous economic enabler for our region … and as a council we have a responsibility to invest in it.”
Cr Gavin Jones agreed, saying that retaining Council ownership of the saleyards was important but said he would be taking a keen interest in any new schedule of fees and charges.
Mayor Otto said the Council would be preparing the new saleyard fees partly to ensure the operation was profitable, and partly to ensure Coolabunia did not negatively affect any other commercial saleyards operating across the region.
The motion to keep the 38-year-old saleyards in Council ownership was accepted unanimously.
Cr Roz Frohloff absented herself from the discussion and vote due to a conflict of interest.
Footnote: The Murgon Saleyards were sold soon after Council amalgamation in 2008. The sale had been organised by the former Murgon Shire Council but was stalled by the amalgamation process.
- Related article: Saleyards Put Out To Tender