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Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Page: 11197


Mr COULTON (Parkes) (16:09): A few years ago the federal government contributed $10 million towards a small-animals abattoir at Bourke, in the north-western part of my electorate. It was under round 2 of the federal government's National Stronger Regions Fund, a forerunner of the Building Better Regions Fund. It was $10 million in partnership with the Bourke Shire Council to help them with some of the enabling infrastructure—roads, electricity, water supply—as part of a $61 million project. Sadly, upon completion, the abattoir shortly closed because of the drought and other issues, and it's sat there idle for a number of years. It's been very disappointing for the people of Bourke and the western region of New South Wales.

A bit of good news: recently Thomas Foods purchased the abattoir. They've committed to upgrading and putting more processing facilities in. Hopefully, in early 2022, it will be back in production, killing 6,000 animals a day, either goats or sheep, and providing 120 permanent jobs. When I speak to some of the older folk and the Aboriginal folk who used to work at the Tancred's abattoir, which closed down many years ago, they lament that Bourke was a much more stable and prosperous town when it had that employment on the edge of town.

I'm incredibly pleased that Thomas Foods have stepped up to take this project on. I know the people of Bourke, Brewarrina and surrounding areas are very excited to have those jobs. It will be a combination of training local people and probably bringing in some skilled workers at the start to get the plant going. However, to be able to have stable work in your own town is incredibly important, and meatworkers are a bit like timber workers or shearers: there's an enormous sense of pride in someone who can say they are a meatworker. My hope is that over the coming years and decades that that culture becomes entrenched in Bourke and the town will grow and prosper from this investment.