Millicent saleyards set to remain open

Claire Harris
By Claire Harris
Updated December 1 2021 - 1:02am, first published 12:02am
CLEAR DIRECTION: Wattle Range Council chief executive office Ben Gower is pleased there is a clear pathway forward for the Millicent saleyards.

Following unanimous support at a council meeting on Tuesday night, the Millicent saleyards are set to remain open, with the council having committed to fund the safety upgrades required to keep the yards in action.

The decision follows five SafeWork notices were issued as part of an audit of the saleyards in July, all surrounding aging infrastructure that no longer complies with Australian health and safety standards.

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At last night's meeting, the ten Wattle Range council members agreed to commit just under $1-million in funding to address the SafeWork notices. The funding will go towards getting two elevated ramps and four fixed ramps up to spec, and fixing problems with the weighbridge office and truckwash, asbestos issues, and and watertight issues in the on-site administration building.

The $1-million funding commitment is is a significant increase on the $180,000 previously proposed by the council.

Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Ben Gower said it was "fantastic" to have a clear pathway forward for the yards.

It's a smaller market, but it's a well-run show.

- GARTH HUPPATZ

"There has always been reluctance to spend money on the yards, because they have stopped performing financially, so it was great to get the council support," he said.

At Tuesday night's meeting, deputations were provided from four groups, followed by a council debate for an hour before the final decision was made.

"We have to look after all ratepayers across 13 towns, and when speaking to constituents elsewhere (outside of Millicent), councillors have received widespread messages to close the yards," Mr Gower said.

"I was expecting the decision to be more down to the wire, but in the end it came down to the council seeing just how important the saleyards are to the local farming community around Millicent."

Semi-retired Millicent farmer Garth Huppatz, who has previously been on the saleyards working committee, said there was a positive "ripple effect" of the saleyards.

"A market day doesn't only affect the farmers, it has a really good impact on the entire community, there are big social, mental and economic benefits for all the people and businesses," he said.

Mr Huppatz has been selling through stock yards in Millicent yards for 60 years, even before the current saleyards were built in the mid 1970s.

"It's a smaller market, but it's a well-run show, and the stress on our animals is far less than if we have to send them elsewhere," he said.

Mr Huppatz said the benefits of being on the rails on sale day was brought to light when COVID-19 hit last year.

"Only buyers and auctioneers were allowed to be present on market day, and after two or three months of not being able to attend, you realised the importance of that contact with other farmers at the market - it's a mental thing."

Now a council commitment to fund the necessary works has been made, Mr Gower is set to meet with SafeWork to negotiate timelines for the works, before contractors are sourced for the design, fabrication, and installation of the upgrades.

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Claire Harris

Claire Harris

Journalist

Journalist at Stock Journal. Hailing from South East Queensland, Claire moved to SA at the start of 2019. She is passionate about agriculture, cooking, sport, and line dancing, and loves a good long road trip.

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