The NRLX-agent dispute will be a big topic at the Richmond Valley Council meeting at 6pm today, Tuesday, September 19.
The Casino Auctioneers Association Incorporated (CAAI) released a statement today about the council meeting.
CAAI president Andrew Summerville said the association supported the motions put forward at the public meeting on September 4 at the Casino RSM Club but was concerned the motions are not on the agenda for discussion at tonight’s meeting.
Mr Summerville said “Council is fully aware that the association will return to the saleyards under the 2020-23 agreement until a 2023-26 agreement can be agreed upon, and we would also consent to the payment of the 0.2% business usage fee that council wants to impose.”
The one issue that the agents say is non-negotiable is the handling of livestock after they have been sold. Council wants its own livestock team to handle the cattle and agents want to retain that role. It remains a sticking point in the dispute about the licence agreement.
The Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange Future Options report by general manager Vaughan Macdonald will be discussed at tonight’s meeting and one of the report’s recommendations is to lease the saleyards.
Mr Summerville said he was cautious about this recommendation.
“I am aware of his report being submitted to council on Tuesday, and it has previously been made fairly clear to the council that the community want the saleyards to be operated efficiently and effectively, we are not sure leasing the complex out to a private company is beneficial to the producer or the ratepayers,” he said.
“There are often significant increases in fees, particularly yard dues when this arrangement occurs. There are only two organisations that benefit from this type of arrangement, the council through payment of a lease and the private company who can charge any fees they like.”
The CAAI said there were some major issues that would need to be resolved in leasing the NRLX, the main one being the current issues council has with the EPA and remedial work required, Mr Summerville said.
CAAI members have been selling cattle at Lismore saleyards.
“Lismore saleyards have been working really well and most member agencies have been providing alternate marketing solutions for producers, but this doesn’t help the town of Casino or the district,” Mr Summerville said.
“The easiest solution is for council to agree to the CAAI request to return to selling cattle under the old agreement and for the CAAI to pay the 0.2% business usage fee, we think it’s a fairly simple solution”.