Leitch faces creditors
TROUBLED Leitch Pastoral Group owner Dudley Leitch sat with his lawyer at the first creditors’ briefing at Grant Thornton’s offices in Brisbane yesterday morning.
The Daily News understands he showed little emotion and sat apart from his fellow creditors – some of whom are likely to lose huge amounts of money after three of the group’s companies collapsed early this month.
The first official creditors’ briefing from voluntary administrators for the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs Grant Thornton almost certainly confirmed what many feared – unsecured creditors are unlikely to see a cent of what they are owed.
The Daily News travelled to Brisbane to cover the meeting, however was told by Grant Thornton no media were allowed inside the meeting room and locked the doors.
After the meeting Mr Leitch said he felt no animosity from his creditors.
Oddly, Mr Leitch’s family is the largest single creditor involved, being owed more than $2 million.
Mr Leitch explained this was so because at a time when Killarney Abattoir was struggling to source cattle, he supplied stock from his own properties to prop up supply.
Mr Leitch said he was a “working class man” and intended to run Leitch Pastoral Group’s farming operations.
The Daily News spoke with one Southern Downs cattle producer and creditor of the Killarney Abattoir, who did not want to be named, who said the meeting confirmed what he already knew.
“(Grant Thornton) indicated that at this stage we are not likely to see any money for unsecured creditors,” the producer said.
“They basically just went through the legal process which we have already had explained.
“They just confirmed what we thought we already knew; we’re not likely to get our money.”
Another couple from near Killarney are owed about $22,000 from the Killarney Abattoir for 31 head of cattle which were slaughtered in November.
The couple, who did not want to be named, said they were lucky in that they had suspected things were not good last year and had partially converted their operation to bigger cattle, so as to also supply to John Dee Warwick.
They have been forced to send the remainder of their small cattle, which were previously killed at Killarney, to Casino to be slaughtered at an added transport cost of between $16 –$20.
The couple has been supplying cattle to the Killarney Abattoir for more than 20 years and said if they had not converted their cattle-growing operation to big cattle last year, things could have been far worse.
“There is still an opening for a multi-species abattoir in Killarney,” he said.
“We would still like to see the abattoirs re-opened to do the smaller stock.”
While the only time they were not paid for their cattle was last year, the couple said it was a constant battle to get money for beasts they sold to the Killarney Abattoir.
They believe a large part of the reason the abattoir had trouble sourcing stock was because producers were selling the cattle elsewhere.
“No-one would sell them the cattle because they weren’t getting paid quickly,” she said.
“We had to chase our money all the time.”
Former Leitch Pastoral Group operations manager Rob Doro, who has presented a bold new cooperative-style plan to re-open the abattoirs, was also present at yesterday’s meeting.
Mr Doro said he sympathised with the creditors, and was committed to doing what he could to re-open the abattoirs.
He said the meeting was very calm and restrained, and said there were no outbursts from creditors.
“The creditors, for people who are affected so deeply, were very professional,” Mr Doro said.
After the meeting at Grant Thornton’s offices – which began about 11am – was finished, Mr Doro had a meeting with Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation regional economic strategy economy policy, projects and employment director Dennis Bird to try and see what support the State Government would offer to his scheme to re-open the Killarney Abattoirs.
Mr Doro said his plan was to get together a managing board as well as private financial backers to purchase the Killarney Abattoir business.
He said his plan would ensure history would not repeat itself and was based around appointing capable and qualified staff as well as implementing a sound management structure.
Mr Doro said he had resigned from his position as operations manager in order to focus on this plan and garner as much community support as he could to make it a reality.
While having no financial interest from this point onwards in the administration process of the Killarney and Pittsworth abattoirs, Mr Doro said he would continue to attend creditors’ meetings and stay abreast with the issue.
“My interest is to protect the creditors and do the right thing by them – they have been left high and dry,” he said.