A new cattle cross-loading and road-train reconfiguration facility near Port Augusta is set to improve the flow of cattle from the Northern Territory into Southern Australia.
Up to 80,000 cattle a year flow south from the Northern Territory each year, according to the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, mostly in six deck, triple trailer road trains.
At Port Augusta in South Australia the trucks must be decoupled and cattle transferred to smaller configurations such as B-Doubles and semi-trailers, which are approved to travel on roads south of Port Augusta.
Works to proceed under announcement made yesterday by the SA Government and IOR Petroleum, which follows years of lobbying by producer groups, should see that bottleneck made more efficient and safer for workers and cattle in future.
The intersection at Yorkeys Crossing Road and the Stuart Highway, north of Port Augusta, will be upgraded to allow access to a new decoupling yard which is part of the nearby IOR Petroleum facility.
Triple road trains and other combinations up to 53.5 metres long will be able to use the decoupling facility to reconfigure into smaller combinations.
It will also include a livestock transfer tower to improve cross-loading of livestock, making it safer for cattle and their handlers.
SA minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Leon Bignell said the upgrades would improve productivity by building efficiencies in transportation and will also reduce the risk of injury to workers and livestock.
SA Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock said the development will give greater certainty to South Australian processing facilities by making it more efficient to get cattle into their premises.
NT Primary Industry and Resources Minister Ken Vowles said the move provides a safer, more efficient way of moving cattle.
IOR Petroleum Managing Director Stewart Morland said the upgrade were a “great example of government and industry working together”.
“We work very closely with transport companies hauling livestock to markets via Yorkeys Crossing and could see the issues facing both drivers and livestock during decoupling and truck to truck stock transfers on the pad adjacent to our site.
“IOR’s investment in the Port Augusta livestock transfer facility is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting regional Australia and its important industries and we are delighted that this is a perfect match with the objectives of the Government of South Australia”.
NT Cattlemen’s Association CEO Tracey Hayes said the announcement on a triple road decoupling facility for Yorkeys Crossing is a significant breakthrough and both the South Australian and Northern Territory Governments should be congratulated on the first steps to resolving some significant issues.
Livestock SA said the announcement followed many years of advocating for such a facility.
“It will play a vital role in improving welfare and safety for both livestock and people,” Livestock SA Chief Executive Officer Andrew Curtis said.
“Now that it has been announced, it’s important that work begins immediately to ensure the best possible access for northern SA and Northern Territory producers to transport their cattle south.
“This is because as we come into winter, the flow of cattle from these northern regions increases significantly, so it’s important to ensure they can have improved access to southern markets sooner rather than later.
“The certification of organic production systems in central Australia has increased the amount of premium cattle seeking to be shipped to markets in the south.
“When added to the opening of the Chinese live cattle market, it means there is an expectation that more cattle from southern parts of the Northern Territory and South Australian pastoralists will come through SA, via Yorkey’s Crossing, so this investment will ensure that we can maximise the opportunities for them for market access both domestically and internationally.”
Mr Curtis said the inclusion of a livestock transfer tower meant it would be far easier to transfer cattle between transportation trailers – a key improvement for animal safety and for drivers’ work health and safety.