The power of the people has spoken again in Geelong and it is pleasing to see the City of Greater Geelong administrators have listened.
The closure of the Geelong saleyards left many hundreds of farmers in the Geelong region with little option to have access to a livestock exchange. The saleyards saga is a lesson that if you do not consult the community, you do so at your own peril.
The city’s backflip on the closure decision should be seen as a positive – a willingness to listen. The administrators have worked with a community that has a proud history of breeding and growing livestock, and using the Geelong saleyards complex as a centre to trade livestock and mix socially with like-minded people.
Over the years, the Geelong saleyards have had reduced yardings, as the yards’ condition has deteriorated, due mainly to a lack of appetite by previous councils to commit to any significant maintenance and upgrades.
The saleyards are sitting in the middle of both residential and industrial development and its life tenure is surely limited, given the restrictions that will be imposed on managing the site in the future.
The administrators have made the right decision to reopen the facility with the maintenance required to meet the OH&S standards, which will allow our small coastal farmers to access the yards at a competitive cost. Just as important, this will allow the administrators to develop an agribusiness strategy that will include a livestock exchange and a potential farmers market that can showcase the wonderful food and fibre products that the Geelong region is renowned for.
It is now time for those passionate people with inspirational ideas to engage with the city and G21 to explore the opportunities for a new and exciting exchange that will have a generational lifetime like the grand old lady of yesteryear that has served the region for almost 150 years.