The Tasmanian Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran MP today said his latest trip to King Island had given him renewed optimism about the future of beef processing on the island.
Mr O’Halloran yesterday visited the King Island with Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and two investment experts from Greenard-Willing, to continue discussions with producers and community members.
“The passion of the island’s producers for their world-renowned beef brand and their eagerness to work together to make it succeed is a real inspiration,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“We remain confident that, with the right business model and the right kind of support, there is a bright future for beef processing on the island.”
“The question now is where are Bryan Green and Jeremy Rockliff, the two Members for Braddon who are also their parties’ primary industries spokespeople?”
“King Islanders want a clear commitment from Labor and Liberal that they will support an island facility, and that that they will not be swayed by any perceived concerns that Swift could shut its Longford facility.”
“Whatever the outcome of the ACCC’s investigation, Bryan Green and Jeremy Rockliff need to be standing up for the King Island Beef brand in the face of this uncertainty.”
Mr O’Halloran also noted the ACCC’s recent decision to investigate Swift Australia’s refusal to release the asset.
“The competition watchdog will investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour by Swift, and we believe it is important to wait for the results of that investigation,” Mr O’Halloran said.
“It is clear that many people are frustrated that there is a perfectly good abattoir site on the island that’s ready to go, including a brand new taxpayer funded effluent facility.”
“Swift has been an important employer on King Island and it continues to process stock from local beef producers, but their decision to pull out of processing left the King Island community in a difficult situation.”
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the Greens were focused on finding a long term solution that delivered jobs and opportunities for the island.
“Everyone is watching King Island as a role model for farmers owning and controlling and their own brand and supply chain from paddock-to-plate,” Senator Whish Wilson said.
“Instead of sitting idle, the current abattoir site could be sold to a producer-owned cooperative that keeps wealth and jobs on the island, and helps build the King Island Beef brand.”
“If it succeeds, it will stand as a powerful example to producers around the country who want control greater over their own destiny.”
“The islanders and myself have no doubt that Swift’s refusal to sell the existing abattoir site and infrastructure is aimed at preventing local competition and maintaining control of the King Island Beef brand.”
“However, it will be up to the ACCC to decide whether this behaviour is in breach of national competition laws.”
Paul O’Halloran MP Greens Member for Braddon Senator Peter Whish-Wilson Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania