Council keen to progress TFI abattoir rebuild

Council hopes TFI progress not hindered by process


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Mayor Brenton Lewis. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Mayor Brenton Lewis. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

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Murray Bridge mayor Brenton Lewis was relieved Thomas Foods International had finally announced its intention to rebuild within the region.

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WHILE the decision-making process had many "twists and turns" in the past 18 months, Rural City of Murray Bridge mayor Brenton Lewis was relieved Thomas Foods International had finally announced its intention to rebuild within the region.

"An investment of that scale meant they had several locations and business plans to consider - we just had to be patient and hope they would make the decision that they have," he said.

Mr Lewis said the greenfields location, five kilometres north-west from the existing site and 10km from the town centre, would ensure a future for the factory, "uninterrupted and uninhibited by surrounding development".

"It is good to see the abattoir moved out of what is now the township," he said.

"It opens up the possibility of that land being developed along the riverfront.

"The new site is also very strategic for what they want to do.

"It is close to their final irrigation outlet, two gas pipelines, a significant power substation and plenty of grazing land of deep, red, rich soil."

Mr Lewis hoped the planning process would not be impeded by red tape.

"As the local mayor, I am not interested in process, I am interested in outcomes," he said.

We don't want to see this project delays for months and months. - BRENTON LEWIS

"We won't stand in the way of progress. We don't want to see this project delayed for months and months.

"Every day we wait is another day jobs aren't being created and TFI can't continue to build their business."

Mr Lewis said the local community had been significantly affected by the fire at the original TFI factory, which employed up to 1600 people.

"After the fire, 500 short-term visa holders disappeared within a fortnight," he said.

"Then 400 went to work at Lobethal. Many still live in Murray Bridge and make the long commute, but a lot have moved closer to Lobethal. We may not get them back.

"Several hundred also went to other plants across Australia.

"The multiplication rates of these employees was about three to one.

"Luckily we had growth in other processing industries, such as Big River Pork, Adelaide Mushrooms and Beston Foods, but we lost a lot of people."

RELATED READING:TFI announces 'world class' abattoir rebuild

While pleased with the announcement that TFI would be increasing its workforce to 2000 at the new site, Mr Lewis remained realistic that the increased employment would be a gradual process.

"It's a project with many phases, so we know that growth is not going to happen immediately," he said.

"But every extra job is good news to us.

"We will now spend our time making sure they can get through the initial planning stages as fast as possible, which we, as local government, hope to facilitate with the state government."

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