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New Queensland abattoir begs question – why not Bourke?

Bourke’s small stock abattoir lies dormant while the Charleville facility takes on a $9 million investment. Photo TWH

While Bourke’s $50 million meat works sits idle and up for sale, across the Queensland border a similar small stock plant has just received a $9 million investment to increase its capabilities.

Questions linger about the wisdom of opening the Bourke abattoir during the drought – and the value of the federal governments’ significant investment in the operation.

The Bourke small stock processing plant held out the promise of employment and training for locals and of being a major processor of goat meat for an expanding international market.

The plant operated fully for just a few months in 2019 and is now on the market.

Bourke Shire Council General Manager Mark Riley was not involved when the plant was initially established but acknowledged that council had made a significant investment and was keen to see it operational again.

“Council made a big investment in terms of time and effort, to assist in getting the works up and running and council would obviously love to see it operating and employing people again,” Mr Riley said.

“Council is aware the owners are trying to sell it off or lease it, and we want to see it up and running sooner rather than later.”

The North Bourke abattoir initially promised employment for up to 200 people, with the Federal Government putting up $10 million for the $50 million facility built by Capra Pty Limited.

The abattoir began operations in January 2019 but ceased processing just a few months later, with management citing livestock supply issues due to the drought.

Spokesman for Capra Pty Limited James Price said the abattoir had to adjust to drought with shorter shifts, reduced slaughter days and pauses in processing, but the meat works eventually ceased processing and was put up for sale.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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