Rob Doro addresses yesterday’s meeting at the Killarney Rec Centre.
Rob Doro addresses yesterday’s meeting at the Killarney Rec Centre. John Towells

Bold bid to keep abattoir running

A DARING plan to resurrect Killarney Abattoir as a co-operative, with financiers Rural Bank, the major shareholders has been proposed by a former Leitch Pastoral Group manager.

Rob Doro resigned from his position as the group’s operations manager yesterday allowing him to put forward the proposal, which could see creditors recover millions and the Killarney community retain its primary employer.

He said the simple plan could be the only hope creditors have of recovering more than $3.8 million owed to them in the wake of the collapse of the Leitch Pastoral Group’s three meat entities – Killarney Abattoir, Pittsworth Processing Plant and Condamine River Meats.

“The concept is very simple,” Mr Doro said.

“All we – meaning both the public and creditors – have to do is convince Dudley Leitch and his financiers Rural Bank to forgo the assets of both the Killarney and Pittsworth processing plants and roll them into a new entity.”

The daring proposal comes just a day before a public meeting of creditors organised by the group’s administrator accounting firm Grant Thornton in Brisbane.

“Most creditors will never receive a cent of what is owed to them,” Mr Doro said.

“Yet under this plan we would resurrect Killarney and Pittsworth as co-operatives and the money owed to creditors would be translated into shares, so people have a genuine chance of recovering their funds.

“What we need now is community support of this proposal so we can pressure Rural Bank and Mr Leitch into taking action to make this happen.

“In real terms the bank doesn’t stand to lose anything, because they would become the biggest shareholders of the co-operatives.

“It would also leave Mr Leitch free to focus on addressing issues in his rural interests.”

Mr Doro said the abattoirs would be resurrected as “true co-operatives” with an accountable board with independent and professional directors.

“This would work: it is very simple and with the community behind us as well as being part owner the plan can’t fail,” he said.

The former Leitch Pastoral employee admitted he would not personally gain from the move to create a co-operative, instead he said he was motivated by an opportunity to make “a difference in the whole outcome”.

“I don’t have a bloody thing to gain from this,” Mr Doro said.

“What is driving me is what I see as a limited window of opportunity to effect change and in doing so ensure creditors are not left high and dry.”

Clearly, he said there were formal elements of the proposal to be addressed, but after consulting with financiers he was sure the fundamentals were right.

Mr Doro said he would also be calling on the Queensland Government to specifically support the co-operative plan in the form of start up capital.

“We don’t want hand outs and we would not expect them, all we ask is for some lateral thinking,” he said.

“What better investment could the Bligh Government make then investing in their own community by creating employment and opportunity?”

He said their assistance for the project could come in the form of interest-reduced loans, Meat and Livestock Australia funding or support in re-establishing plant operations.

Mr Doro outlined his plan to an informal meeting of Leitch creditors and other interested locals at the Killarney Recreation Club yesterday afternoon.

The meeting sprang from what was to have been a brainstorming session on the abattoir between council staff and the Killarney Task Force, the latter originally formed last year to tackle the town’s medical centre crisis.

Yesterday’s meeting was also addressed by local livestock and feedlot identity Chris Shaw and was attended by Mayor Ron Bellingham.

Mr Shaw suggested a committee of key spokespeople be formed to put the case creditors at a meeting tomorrow at the Brisbane offices of administrators Grant Thornton.

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