Tas Government must buy Devonport meatworks to save local jobs

The Tasmanian Liberal Government must buy the Devonport City Abattoir to save local jobs and fix the Tasmanian lamb and sheep processing crisis, Tasmanian Nationals Senator Steve Martin said today.

Senator Martin said indecision on this issue by the Tasmanian Liberals would be “costing Tasmanian jobs, costing Tasmanian shoppers and costing animal welfare”.

The issue ignited because JBS now takes Tasmanian lamb and sheep previously processed in Devonport to Victoria for slaughtering before sending the meat back to Tasmania.

“This has cost hundreds of Tasmanian jobs, added about $1.30 a kilo to the price of lamb for the Tasmanian consumer and cost farmers $20 per head,” Senator Martin said.

“We now have the ludicrous situation of 850,000 sheep and lamb a year being live exported to Victoria only to come back a few days later as boxed meat.

“It’s time for the Tasmanian Liberals to stand up for Tasmanians instead of big multi-national corporations who are screwing Tasmania over.

“JBS shut the Devonport City Abattoir in November last year at a cost of 120 direct jobs with a huge effect on the local economy. JBS has also closed the meatworks on King Island, the sheep and lamb export floor at Longford and now they closed Devonport.

“The Devonport Abattoir has been valued at $1.02 million. TAS Quality Meats has re-opened the pig line and wants to do more but JBS refuses to lease the whole facility because it does not want competition against its own sheep and lamb operations.

“The State Liberal Government needs to bring lamb and sheep slaughtering back from Victoria to Tasmania so regional Tasmania can get its fair share.

“The State Government’s only response to date has been to establish a ‘Tasmanian Meat Industry Working Group’, which issued its third meaningless one page communique on 28 February.

“Tasmanians need action, not more chit chat and holding hands with companies that are screwing Tasmania.

“A legal opinion from former Crown Solicitor Leigh Sealy is that the State Government has the power to acquire the site. It must do so without delay,” Senator Martin concluded.