Hundreds were on hand at Oakey Beef’s rail siding on Wednesday to greet the arrival of the 44-deck cattle train being hailed as a rural jobs bonanza.
The first shipment of cattle by rail to Oakey in 23 years comes on the back of a $2.5m investment in regional rail by the Palaszczuk government that Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said was a great example of partnering with local industry to invest in infrastructure that supports jobs in rural communities.
It will give beef producers in Queensland’s south west more marketing options as well.
Livestock manager for NH Foods, Kurt Wockner, said it was something the company had campaigned for many years.
“We had producers from this region who had consigned cattle to us by road train, when the rail sliding was 100 metres from our boning room and we couldn’t use it,” Mr Wockner said.
“There is a definite price advantage to producers who can use rail freight.
“We have filled the 44 wagons on this trip with repeat clients, but the beauty of our contract with Queensland Rail is we can book and specify the number of wagons we can fill.
“We will be able to share trains with other processors such as JBS and Teys Australia, and have our wagons shunted off to our siding.”
Oakey Beef Exports joined South West RED, an organisation representing the six council regions of south west Queensland to advocate for changes to cattle freight services.
Agriculture minister, Bill Byrne said the arrival of the cattle train marked the rebirth of a transport option, and opened up new opportunities for beef producers from the Channel Country, Quilpie and Charleville, to the east.
“It is a tremendous vote of confidence in our beef producers, and to Oakey Beef who employs 750 workers and is a significant contributor to the regional economy,” Mr Byrne said.
Beef processing is the largest manufacturing industry in Queensland, and employs an estimated 18,000 people, and processed beef is our largest agricultural export.