MILLICENT stock agents have welcomed news the town’s saleyards will remain open until at least mid-2021 after a decision was made at this week’s Wattle Range Council meeting.
The Millicent Saleyards was slated to close at the end of this financial year ending 44 years of operation after it struggled to adequately improve numbers, but has been given a 12-month lifeline by council.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Millicent Saleyards Advisory Group member and Millicent stock agent John Chay delivered an impassioned five-minute speech in favour of keeping the facility open.
Council also received a saleyards closure protest petition containing the signatures of hundreds of local residents.
In his address, Mr Chay said the saleyards made an economic contribution to the Millicent community as well as social and mental health benefits.
“The public meeting in January showed support for the saleyards and there has been a great response to the petition,” Mr Chay said.
“The advisory group has some income generating ideas and the cattle throughput figures have flatlined.
“The saleyards would still be a financial burden on council if they were to be closed.
“There would also be an extra burden on farmers.”
In reply to a query from Cr Dale Price, Mr Chay said there had been a small number of additional vendors at Millicent this year.
“I want reasons to keep the saleyards open,” Cr Price said.
When the time came to debate her 12-month extension notice of motion, Cr Moira Neagle said the council must act with goodwill.
She said the council was in a sound financial position and much of its rate revenue was derived from primary producers.
Cr Neagle said the protest petition supported her stance.
“The future of the saleyards lies in the hands of the producers and the stock agents,” she said.
Cr Peter Dunnicliff supported the new deadline of June 30, 2021 given council had granted extensions to the Millicent and District Community Club when it was facing financial difficulties.
Cr Kevin McGrath said he also supported Cr Neagle’ s motion as the council received a significant amount of rates from farmers.
“We spend more on keeping the Beachport boat ramp up to scratch than we do at the saleyards,” Cr McGrath said.
“The boat ramp is used by 18 professionals.”
Cr Deb Agnew said an extension of time until 2022 might be appropriate.
However, Cr Dunnicliff said he would not support this later date and Cr Agnew did not proceed with her amendment.
Cr Dean Burrow said the feedback he was receiving from Penola-based Riddoch ward was to close the saleyards.
According to Cr Price, he had originally supported the conditional closure motion in January but would now back Cr Neagle.
Cr Price said affected people were now taking ownership of the saleyards situation as had occurred a few years ago when the council was moving to close the Nangwarry pool.
He also referred to council’s financial support for theMillicent and District Community Club.
Cr Burrow then unsuccessfully attempted to end debate by moving a rarely-used guillotine motion.
Debate continued for a short while with a minor change endorsed to Cr Neagle’ s motion.
Cr Burrow called for a division which revealed support from all 11 councillors.