Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge today announced major reforms to the Western Australian meat industry, including removal of the WA Meat Marketing Corporation's powers of acquisition of lamb from June 30, 1995.
Mr Bridge said the corporation was currently empowered to compulsorily acquire all lambs for slaughter in WA and to trade in lamb and other meats.
However, a comprehensive review chaired by Professor David Lindsay had recommending removing the 20-year-old acquisition powers because it placed an unfair burden on consumers who had to subsidise unprofitable aspects of the industry.
While industry was divided on the Lindsay report, Mr Bridge said his own extensive discussions with industry representatives had indicated strong concern about the stifling effect of acquisition on initiative in the industry.
Mr Bridge said the Meat Marketing Corporation would continue its other important functions, including export marketing.
A Meat Industry Consultative Council - comprising industry and Government representatives - would be established to help with the transition from current arrangements and to provide ongoing advice on meat production, processing and marketing.
He said Robb Jetty abattoir, which provides slaughtering facilities for the corporation and small private operators, would be retained.
However, steps would be taken to improve its efficiency, and the council would examine options such as the amalgamation of the WA Meat Commission, which operates Robb Jetty, with the corporation.
He said a large section of the industry had sought the retention of Robb Jetty because of concerns about the ability of other abattoirs to cope with periods of high turnoff, and the need for an independent processing works to retain competition in the industry.
Mr Bridge said the changes would be the basis for industry to work closely together to develop the future prospects of this important sector of Western Australian agriculture.