Churchill Abattoir managing director Barry Moule.
Churchill Abattoir managing director Barry Moule.

The man who wants to give 600 meatworkers their jobs back

AN Ipswich abattoir is gearing up to restart operations after it closed three years ago, promising to hire 600 people if it gets back up and running.

It comes after the same number of full-time jobs were cut at JBS Dinmore on Wednesday.

JBS Australia blamed a range of issues impacting livestock supply and market conditions during COVID-19 for the decision.

Churchill Abattoir closed in September 2017, with the Yamanto site put on the market a few months later.

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Joint ventures were also being sought at the time and now Churchill Abattoir has partnered with a Bahraini-based company, with plans to export meat to the Middle East.

Churchill Abattoir managing director Barry Moule said he hopes it will revitalise the local meat processing industry.

The company has partnered with food security operator and investor Food for All to invest in the Queensland sheep industry and export local beef and lamb to customers in the Middle East.

"We are working to fund the conversion of the Churchill Abattoir from a beef-only processor, like other Ipswich facilities, to being an export centre for both sheep and beef exports," he said.

Churchill Abattoir ceased operations in September 2017.
Churchill Abattoir ceased operations in September 2017.

"We've had a wholesaler on site who has been processing through one of our small boning rooms (since the site closed).

"We'll be transitioning from a domestic abattoir single species to an export abattoir dual species.

"We are a licensed abattoir. We have never lost our licence."

Mr Moule said the company was in discussions with the State Government for "some assistance" to get it started and hoped they could get going again within four to six months.

"It's not a big ask and they're being positive about it at the moment but we haven't had any clear direction," he said.

"I heard there were 600 jobs that were being permanently removed from JBS.

"We've got 600 jobs that we can offer once we get ramped up.

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"I would challenge anybody to tell me where 600 jobs are on offer in the current COVD-19 scenario where everybody is losing jobs."

Mr Moule has been managing director of the abattoir since 2000, when the site was purchased from the government.

"Churchill Abattoir has a proud Ipswich history going back to 1957, but now we're talking with the Queensland Government about our plant upgrade to allow us to export high quality Queensland sheep to the world," he said.

Food For All director Simon Prasad said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's 2015 commitment to wild dog cluster fencing in western Queensland had "rebuilt" the Queensland sheep industry.

"Now we can start processing those sheep for export to the world," he said.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.