Cold-storage push aims to back export

Glenn Cordingley and Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Kimberley pastoralist Jack Burton.
Camera IconKimberley pastoralist Jack Burton. Credit: Robert Dougherty

A major cold-storage hub to beef up the rapidly growing pastoral, aquaculture and horticulture industries in the Kimberley has been flagged for Broome.

It comes at the same time cattleman Jack Burton was given approval to export chilled boxed meat to the US from his abattoir between Broome and Derby.

The Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association has asked the Shire of Broome to contribute $10,000 towards a $150,000 feasibility study to be overseen by the KPCA.

The aim was to produce an investment-ready document for companies and individuals looking to invest in the region.

Mr Burton, the man behind the Yeeda Pastoral company, said he would need access to chillers to support export operations.

“We embrace the idea of a cold storage hub and it is certainly something we would use if it was built,” he said. “It would have the holding capacity for our products and lead to huge opportunities for different industries in the Kimberley.”

Broome International Airport chief executive Paul McSweeney said the airport would be keen to play a big role in the agricultural and pastoral freight exporting opportunities.

“We welcome the work being undertaken by the KPCA and look forward to continuing to be closely involved as this exciting opportunity evolves,” he said.

In a letter to the council, KPCA chief executive Catherine Marriott said such a facility would provide “great benefit” by facilitating business growth and more transport in and out of the Kimberley.

Councillors have been recommended to support the funding request subject to a memorandum of understanding agreement with the KPCA outlining several conditions.

Ms Marriott said there has been a lot of interest in developing a cold storage logistics hub in town but no work has yet been done on economic modelling, strategic foresight, or potential growth of expanding markets with the availability of such a facility.

The study would identify a number of key points including the recommendation of a priority and secondary location and what would be needed to drive the project along with current and anticipated demand from expanding regional industries.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said cold-storage facilities in the town were critical infrastructure for development of the regional economy.

“Broome has been identified as a key supply centre for the region and this type of investment is crucial in broadening the Kimberley’s economy,” he said.

“The growth of these industries is dependent on this type of infrastructure to open up markets in the Eastern States and overseas for products such as chilled boxed beef, fish from local aquaculture farms and horticultural produce.”

A council officer agenda report said with advances in production methods and new technology, agriculture had the potential to contribute a 30 per cent increase to Broome’s current economy, including the creation of 22 to 120 full-time jobs.

“The development of cold-storage facilities at a central location (or hub) or at the port and/or airport is considered as a key project and the KPCA is looking to continue the current momentum and interest,” it said.

The need for cold-storage facilities has been identified in the Broome Growth Plan, a partnership comprising State Government departments, the Yawuru registered native title body corporate and the council.

The council was due at time of press to consider the request tomorrow as it did not have a sufficient quorum last Thursday.

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