The Coolabunia saleyards have a small but dedicated group of buyers.
The Coolabunia saleyards have a small but dedicated group of buyers. Michael Nolan

Safety and security concerns

WITH the final details of AAM Investment Group's lease of the Coolabunia saleyards yet to be released, the mood at Friday's store sale was one of cautious curiosity.

Many of the users had a wait-and-see attitude to the idea of one organisation operating all stock transfer facilities in the South Burnett.

Steve Dunn is a contract buyer who works at yards across southeast Queensland.

He said, generally speaking, AAM should look at safety and labour efficiency at the Coolabunia yards.

"But that is the same at sale yards across Australia,” Mr Dunn said.

"The rural industry is the most dangerous industry in the country.

"I'm not saying the Coolabunia saleyards are not safe, but what was tolerated 20 years ago is not good enough anymore.”

Mr Dunn said the industry as a whole was about 20 years behind the rest of the country in terms of embracing new technology and its associated efficiency.

"If you look around the saleyards, everyone here is getting old and rural Australia is being run by old people,” he said.

With all those old bones climbing up stairs and hopping fencing built for younger men, it is only a matter of time before accidents start to happen.

Lawrie Seng was one of the more senior gentlemen who attended the sales.

He reckons the yards are in need of new catwalks.

Ken and Carol Hancock think there should be more shade for both the cattle and the punters.

The South Burnett Regional Council owns the yards but leased them to AAM Investment Group.

Mayor Keith Campbell said the lease will help relieve pressure on the council's budget.

"Generally management of saleyard facilities is not considered a core business for local government,” Cr Campbell said.

Five organisations submitted proposals and AAMIG was the successful applicant. They currently run the Murgon yards.

"Whilst there may be concerns within the rural community that the Coolabunia Saleyards may close, AAM Group has given assurances to Council that they will be continuing with the fortnightly live weight, fat and store cattle and speciality sales,” Cr Campbell said.

The tender agreement includes managing three cattle dips at Proston, Wondai and East Nanango.

The handover date is yet to be finalised but AAM Investment Group chief executive officer, Garry Edwards said the company wants a 15-30 year contract.

South Burnett

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