Mr CARR: A sale was concluded on 25 March. The abattoir is now under the ownership and operation of Mr Stuart Ramsey of Ramsey Meat Exports. That means that as many as 200 members of the former work force will again be employed at the abattoir. That will deliver at least $6 million in wages to the local economy, $6 million into the pockets of local families and through the doors of small business. Given that Mr Ramsey has access to export markets, there is a real opportunity to expand the work force in the future. The Government helped, of course, with that assistance package. The first cattle for processing arrived at the abattoir today and it will return to full operation on Friday. The Minister for Regional Development, and Minister for Rural Affairs will attend the opening of the abattoir on behalf of the Government.
Motion (by Senator Forshaw) agreed to:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) on 10 December 1997 the Grafton Meatworks, owned and operated by companies in the Gilbertson Group, closed down, resulting in 300 workers losing their jobs just prior to Christmas 1997,
(ii) the workers employed at the meatworks were owed approximately $3 million in annual leave, long service leave, redundancy payments and other entitlements,
(iii) since the closure, the New South Wales State Member for Clarence and the New South Wales Minister for Regional Development and Rural Affairs, Mr Woods, has worked tirelessly to have the meatworks re-opened with a new buyer,
(iv) in the week beginning 22 March 1998, the meatworks was purchased by Ramsey Meats, and
(v) Mr Stuart Ramsey of Ramsey Meats has publicly acknowledged the support and assistance given by Mr Woods and the New South Wales Government in enabling him to purchase and re-open the meatworks, thus providing employment to many of the workers who had lost their jobs; and
(i) Mr Ramsey for his decision to purchase the meatworks, thus demonstrating his faith in, and commitment to, the people of the Grafton district, and
(ii) Mr Woods and the New South Wales Government for their efforts and assistance in ensuring the sale and continued operation of the meatworks which is of vital importance to the people of the region and to Australia’s meat export industry.