Tour demonstrates viability of port's agricultural expansion
GLADSTONE'S port is being heralded nationally as the ideal opportunity for agricultural exports.
A long-term vision for the local cattle industry, utilising a world-class port within the country's beef capital region, is a practical solution, Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said.
"Ultimately the future is Gladstone," he said.
"We are a smart nation and we should be looking to export from Gladstone as quickly as possible."
Gladstone regional councillor and AgForce cattle board member Leo Neill-Ballantine praised the initiative of the government in what has been a long campaign.
"It will certainly put local producers on the front foot," he said.
"We're now a lot to closer to getting beef out of Gladstone."
Cr Neill-Ballantine said any expansion of Gladstone's port to accommodate live exports and boxed beef would be beneficial beyond simply agriculture.
An increase in productivity, competition in the market, the quality of meat and less pressure on the environment were among the advantages of seeing the project pass through proposals and onto commencement.
A harbour tour of Gladstone port demonstrated the viability of the expansion proposal to Mr Joyce, Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, local cattle producers and AgForce board members.
Gladstone Ports Corporation CEO Craig Doyle acted as tour guide, highlighting the capacity of Gladstone port for agricultural expansion.
As LNG projects at Curtis Island near operation, and with the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal expected to launch in the next year, the focus will soon turn to other export opportunities from the economic hub that is Gladstone Harbour.
"We've increased focus on containerised exports," Mr Doyle said.
"We are looking closely at what volumes would warrant a vessel."
Mr Doyle said Port Alma already had the ability to accommodate boxed beef exports with refrigerated container yards, while Auckland Point would serve as the live export terminal.
At Auckland Point, where shipping first began in Gladstone port, live horse exports were the main cargo at the then wooden jetty in the 1930s.
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said agriculture served as one of the economic foundations of Gladstone and, suitably, it was time to return to our roots.
"If we can get cattle out of Gladstone, why don't we do it?" he asked.
"The Port Authority is looking right at the cattle industry. It will make the industry more competitive, resulting in a good livelihood for producers."
In the midst of the largest drought Queensland has ever seen, centralising the export of beef within the beef capital region of Australia would synergise resources and agriculture.
Local beef producer Fred Guddan said the expansion would act as a buffer against factors in the industry that cannot be controlled.