Following last week's Farm Weekly article on pastoralist Jack Burton's issues with Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) and the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), some progress looks to have been made.
While the issue between AQIS and Mr Burton remains unresolved, the DEC and representatives for Mr Burton met last Thursday and the approval process has now commenced.
As part of the license application, once everything has been signed off, there is a seven-day advertising period to allow the general public to comment on the opening of the abattoir.
If everything goes to plan and there is no objection to the abattoir, Gingin Abattoir general manager Luke Jones hopes they will kill their first small stock on Tuesday.
"They (DEC) have gone out and advertised and seven days after that we should be free to operate," Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones said they were still working through the issues with AQIS but would be able to sell the product domestically once the DEC license had gone through.
Following last week's story in the Farm Weekly, Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam issued a press statement saying the bureaucratic hurdles facing Jack Burton in his quest to provide much needed processing capacity in the State by re-opening the Gingin abattoir clearly showed that Federal and State Government departments were committed to destroying regional communities through red tape and excessive regulation.
"Instead of assisting Mr Burton and his backers in opening the abattoir, which up to a year ago was fully operational and compliant, AQIS and DEC continue to hold up critical regional investment by refusing to transfer and reinstate licenses and approvals, and demanding the new owners pay off the previous owners debts," Mr Gillam said.
"This is just unacceptable, especially when the beef and sheep meat industries are screaming out for increased processing space, and our regional communities are facing uncertain futures due to lack of jobs."
"The Gingin abattoir was operating in full compliance with DEC and AQIS before it went into administration, yet as soon as new owners arrive the government regulators step in and demand their pound of flesh.
"One wonders how our State and Federal politicians can support the actions of these self serving bureaucrats who have created an insufferable jungle of red tape which is strangling any investment in our regional communities."
Senator Mathias Cormann has also gone into battle for Mr Burton since the story last week, asking questions of Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig in the Senate on Friday.
This is a sample of the questions Mr Cormann asked:
p What is the status of the monies owed to the AQIS by a company in administration after that company was sold to an administrator?
p Does AQIS declare any monies it is owed by a company in administration to the administrators?
p Is the Minister aware of accusations that AQIS did not declare such debts in the case of two abattoirs in WA; one located in Gingin and one in Narrogin?
p Is it correct that the abattoir in Narrogin is being asked to pay $150,000 to AQIS for costs incurred under previous owners?
p If not, how much is AQIS demanding the Narrogin abattoir to pay?
p Is it correct that the abattoir in Gingin is being asked to pay $120,000 to AQIS for costs incurred under previous owners?
p If not, how much is AQIS demanding the Gingin abattoir pay?
p Does the Minister support AQIS's approach in relation to the collection of monies owed by a company in administration from the new owners after that company has been sold?
p Has the Minister considered waiving the debt given the circumstances and the significant pressure the cattle industry in WA is under following the ban on live exports to Indonesia in 2011?
Farm Weekly understands Mr Ludwig has 30 days to respond.
After Farm Weekly went to press last week it received further comment from Mr Ludwig's office.
"The Secretary has the power to remit (waive) the debt under section 49 of the Export Control (Fees) Orders 2001 and this power has been delegated to a number of departmental officials," the statement said.
"Remitting this debt has been considered by a delegated official.
"A waiver of Commonwealth debt under section 34 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 can only be approved by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation or Special Minister of State."
A DEC spokesperson told Farm Weekly this week that the DEC and an officer from the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) met with the applicant's accountant last Thursday to discuss the licence application.
"During the meeting, DEC requested revised documentation," the spokesperson said.
"DEC received the revised documentation on August 13 and is currently assessing the information with the aim of issuing a licence as soon as possible once the public consultation period is complete."