Beef producer wants a Gladstone meatworks

THE development of Gladstone didn't really take off until 1893 when a meatworks was established at Parsons Point.

It became the mainstay of the city and generations of residents relied on gaining employment there until it closed in 1962.

Grazier Leo Neill-Ballantine says now it is time to bring it back.

And, he said, with the Port of Gladstone looking to diversify its commodities, it is an opportunity to process and export boxed beef.

"Central Queensland has got more cattle than any other region in Australia and we have the second biggest port in the country. There's a lot of potential," the Gladstone councillor said.

Local beef producers send their cattle to Teys meatworks at Biloela or Rockhampton or JBS at Rockhampton or Dinmore to be processed.

But if you ask any farmer, they'll tell you they're desperate for more competition between processors.

"I don't think we'll have a problem with (finding people interested in supplying cattle), although we have a lot of miles and homework to do yet," Cr Neill-Ballantine said.

"When you put it all down on paper, everything lines up for Gladstone. A new meatworks would be aimed primarily at the export trade."

Cr Neill Ballantine spent a month in China prior to the signing of the free trade agreement, and that trip was followed by five days in Indonesia to gauge interest from the two major importers of Australian beef.

"A source in Jakarta told us the future would be in boxed beef due to the welfare issue (with live cattle)," he said.

At the moment, 40% of the container ships leaving the port of Brisbane are filled with produce that is farmed north of Gladstone.

"That is freight that could be saved if cattle was processed and shipped from Gladstone," he said.

"The government has made remarks about doubling our agricultural industry. For that to happen farmers are going to have to get more money," Cr Neil-Ballantine said.

In May Cr Neill-Ballantine said any expansion of Gladstone's port to accommodate live exports and boxed beef would be beneficial.

But speaking yesterday he said the ports of Darwin and Townsville were still more economical for live exports, being closer to the Asian nations.

Gladstone Meatworks was a mainstay for the city.
Gladstone Meatworks was a mainstay for the city.

Gladstone meatworks was economic mainstay for years

THE original Gladstone meatworks was the mainstay of the city prior to its closure in 1962.

Former Gladstone Port Authority secretary Brian Jordan recalls the "good old days" when the abattoir was in full swing.

"Back then, in the 1950s, if the meatworks had closed, with nothing coming along behind it, it would have been a total disaster," he said.

"The town relied on employment at the meatworks and many generations of Gladstone residents worked there. In fact, when I was at school as a 14-year-old, the young blokes' one aspiration was to go and work at the meatworks."

Mr Jordan said the only downside to the meatworks was the seasonal nature of its operations.

"At times the killing season would be quite short and it was almost legend the way local business people carried the workers with credit until the next good season."

As far as the port of Gladstone is concerned, Mr Jordan said the revenue the port received from the meatworks was enough to start funding future development of port facilities. "It was more or less once the meat stopped, the coal started."

All product from the meatworks was exported, with 95% being shipped to the UK.

In 1964 construction started on Queensland Alumina Ltd, on the same site.



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