Abattoir closure kills 200 jobs

NEARLY 200 abattoir workers are in employment limbo after the Country Fresh Australia meatworks at Wallangarra closed its doors on Friday.

Director Graham Jackson said the indefinite closure of the export mutton abattoir was due mainly to “a physical shortage” of sheep primarily from Queensland, but also from northern New South Wales.

Mr Jackson said other combined factors behind the closure included the drought, the high Australian dollar, declining wool prices, increasing live exports.

He also said the situation was compounded by wild dogs “decimating sheep flocks”.

“Our Wallangarra operation has been running for 16 years and was built around sheep but there are simply not the numbers at the moment to make it viable, our source area has just dried up,” Mr Jackson said.

“It's very difficult to put a timeframe on it (the closure) but we will re-open again when the supply situation improves and becomes workable.”

Mr Jackson said the company had bought a beef chain and was planning to outfit the plant to process cattle but this could take up to nine months or more to put in place.

A spokesman for Killarney Abattoir, which also processes sheep, said numbers were tight and sheep were difficult to source “at the right price”.

But he also said the abattoir was “actively sourcing additional kills” and would remain a five day operation.

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