Churchill Abattoir Back to Work Group representative Peter Cowley meets with Ipswich West MP Jim Madden.
Churchill Abattoir Back to Work Group representative Peter Cowley meets with Ipswich West MP Jim Madden.

Government backing needed to restart abattoir, hire 600

EFFORTS to restart operations at an Ipswich abattoir and hire 600 people is still seeking State Government backing to get it off the ground.

Churchill Abattoir managing director Barry Moule announced earlier this month he had partnered with a Middle Eastern company to turn the facility into an export centre for beef and lamb.

His announcement came a day after the news that 600 full-time workers were to be sacked from the JBS Dinmore meatworks.

Discussions have been held with the government to fund the conversion from a beef-only processor in an effort to create jobs and revitalise the local meat processing industry.

Mr Moule told the QT earlier this month discussions had been “positive” but he had yet to get “any clear direction.”

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Churchill Abattoir closed three years ago but Mr Moule hopes to get it operating again to export beef and lamb to customers in the Middle East.

Peter Cowley is the only person still employed by Churchill Abattoir.

He has been working at the Yamanto precinct since 1999 and was hired by Mr Moule in 2016 as facilities manager.

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

Mr Cowley has written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, on behalf of the Churchill Abattoir Back to Work Group, asking for her government to provide assistance.

He said if operations restarted, 150 to 200 jobs would need to be filled straight away and another 400 would be created over the next 12 months.

Mr Cowley said the phone had “been ringing red hot” since Mr Moule’s announcement, with sacked meatworkers eager to get back into work as soon as possible.

“We just want (the government) to assist in any way they can to get us over the line so we’ve got work,” he said.

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Mr Cowley said the abattoir was well positioned for exporting as it was a bit over 45 minutes to the Port of Brisbane and just under an hour-and-a-half to Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport.

“We’ve got the train coming through there shortly too,” he said.

“So staff will be able to train up to work.”

Ipswich West MP Jim Madden said he was fully behind plans to restart operations.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened at JBS but this is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“It has my full support.”

Mr Madden said he will seek an update from State Development Minister Kate Jones on discussions held with Mr Moule.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.