Agents optimistic about NRLX despite ‘lack of response from council’

Agent and CAAI president Andrew Summerville, on the left, at the All Breeds Sale in Casino.

Susanna Freymark

Casino Auctioneers Association Incorporated (CAAI) president Andrew Summerville has responded to the motions put forward at a packed public meeting at Casino RSM on September 4.

The agents want to be selling cattle at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange in Casino as soon as possible, he said.

The dispute between agents and Richmond Valley Council is about the new licence agreement that agents do not want to sign.

The saleyards have sat empty for more than two months – since the last regular sale at the end of June.

Mr Summerville said little progress had been made in negotiating the terms of the proposed agent licences or on the six motions that were put forward at the public meeting.

“To be frank, we are a little in the dark,” he said.

Mr Summerville claims a meeting agents expected to have with council to discuss options was cancelled.

 The stickiest issue in the licence agreement is the handling of livestock at the NRLX.

Council wants its own team to move and handle cattle once they are sold.

This is one of the points the agents were clear they would not accept.

“The CAAI are non-negotiable on relinquishing the responsibility for livestock pre and post delivery,” Mr Summerville said.

“This is an important role within the processing of cattle, ensuring animal welfare, vendor satisfaction and guaranteed buyer delivery and is a task best performed by experienced livestock handlers on behalf of their clients.”

Council has disputed the animal welfare claims and talked of many negative incidents at the saleyards involving animals that did not involve council.

Beyond this, everything is on the table, and we want to have an open dialogue with the mayor and the councillors about getting the yards open as soon as possible, Mr Summerville said.

“As agents, we can function without access to the yards but both ourselves and our clients want to be there because we can see the harm the closure is doing to Casino which we all know has always been the real beef capital of Australia. It is a travesty.”

Mr Summerville remains optimistic.

“We have not been idle here at the CAAI. We remain optimistic that a deal can be reached with the council and promptly,” he said.

“This remains the most sensible and best approach for all involved and we remain very hopeful that cool heads will prevail and an understanding can be reached.

“That being said, and despite the clear will of the community at the meeting, nothing has yet been achieved to bring us any closer to cattle being back in the NRLX.”

He said council needed to act quickly.

“If they don’t, we’ve been taking legal advice in the background and understand there are various steps we can take to review the council’s decision-making processes. Obviously, that would be a regrettable step when all parties here appear to want the same outcome, but it is one we are prepared to take if need be,” Mr Summerville said.

“The vendors want us there and they want us responsible for their cattle. That’s the way it’s always been and it’s a special relationship of trust and mutual confidence that develops between vendor, agent and even the buyers. It is not something that can just be undone or replicated; it has been like that since time immemorial and if it comes to it we will fight to preserve that.”

Council responded to this matter here.

Agents at the NRLX.

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