Tom Melville 00:00
Hi, I'm Tom Melville. Welcome to voice of real Australia. Each week we bring you people, places and perspectives from the on the big cities. Beaudesert is a town of 6000 in Queensland's Scenic Rim Region, just an hour from Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Every second Monday people gather in the centre of town for the pig and calf sales.
Tom Melville 00:29
Pigs, calves, lambs, goats, chicks and ducklings are for sale as well as jams and veggies and other bits and bobs. It's a busy morning for Beaudesert with visitors travelling from all around the Scenic Rim and beyond to buy and sell, and meet up with friends. Stock sales have been drawing people to the town for over one-hundred years. In its heyday, tens of thousands of animals came through Beaudesert, once a prominent dairy and pig production region. And in February the Beaudesert pig and calf saleyard was granted state heritage status. The timber saleyard was built in 1961. It's one of only a few remaining purpose-built local pig and calf saleyards left in Queensland. But this is not a story about a town's heritage being preserved.
Derek Swanborough 01:11
The whole connection..
Greg Christensen 01:13
We are not prosecuting. (Point of Order). I'm trying to. (Point of order)
Derek Swanborough 01:17
Trying to clarify, (Poitn of order, Counselor.)
Tom Melville 01:21
In an unusual case, the local council -- Scenic Rim Regional Council -- is appealing against the heritage listing. And at the end of March it will not renew the saleyard lease, bringing the legacy to an end. And the Beaudesert community doesn't seem happy. Producer Laura Corrigan has the story.
Laura Corrigan 01:36
It all started when Scenic Rim Regional council released plans for a town centre revitalisation. The plans showed a pedestrian friendly town centre, with a new library and community hub, and more parking. but no pig and calf saleyard.
Cliff Kroesen 01:51
Well, my name is Cliff Kroesen and I was the applicant to enter the saleyards into the heritage register.
Laura Corrigan 01:56
Lawyer Cliff Kroesen was born and raised in Beaudesert and now owns a business locally. He says the heritage application came in response to those council plans to remove the saleyard to make way for a carpark.
Cliff Kroesen 02:09
There's been fortnightly sales in Beaudeser for about 116 years and they were in danger of being stopped. It really was a last resort. The first step was to me with council and ask them to leave the car there and perhaps to move the car park or have a different shaped car park given that there's open space on three sides, but there wasn't successful and then a local grazier started a petition online. There were petitions in local businesses. They got it in excess of 1200 signatures presented at the council meeting and that didn't achieve any change to the plans.
Laura Corrigan 02:39
Cliff says the Beaudesert community was behind his application. They didn't want to see their historic saleyard demolished.
Cliff Kroesen 02:46
The only reason for submitting the application for entry into the heritage register was because the community was outraged by the decision to demolish the pig and calf saleyards. I thought it was no surprise at all to receive the amount of support that it did received from the community. It's very much what the community wanted or certainly the majority of the community
Sue Harrison 03:04
I'm Sue Harrison. We live, with my husband, on a cattle property at Darlington. We have extensive cattle properties in the Scenic Rim and Logan shire, and we moved to a dairy farm, that's my family, more than 60 years ago so we've been in the area for quite a while.
Laura Corrigan 03:24
Cattle farmer Sue Harrison remembers going to the Beaudesert pig and calf saleyard when she was a child.
Sue Harrison 03:29
Mum used to take us to the pig and calf sale yard because they used to be on every week in those days. And we'd buy under weights and doubtfuls they used to be called being very small calves
Laura Corrigan 03:41
like a pig and calf cell yard was part of the old railway station complex when Beaudesert was one of Queensland's premier pig producers in the first half of the 20th century, cell yards, trucking yards and bacon factories were built at the site.
Laura Corrigan 03:55
Was it a fun day out?
Sue Harrison 03:57
Oh yes, yes. Always a day off school. Any reason to have a day off school was a good fun day out. In those days.
Laura Corrigan 04:06
The saleyard system declined in the second half of the 20th century as pig farms consolidated into enterprises who sold directly to meatworks.
Sue Harrison 04:14
Back in those days it would be full chockablock you know the dairy farms were in full swing in the area. There was lots of dairy calves there because that was the only outlet for farmers to sell their animals. You know you used to never go to town on a Monday if you if you didn't have to because you couldn't get any parks anywhere because every one came to town
Laura Corrigan 04:35
Sue says people are still drawn to Beaudesert on sale days, for business and pleasure.
Sue Harrison 04:40
People still come and they support you know, usually on sale days they'll go and get their produce, you know, their cow feed, they'll go and get their groceries. People might, you know, make doctor's appointments.
Laura Corrigan 04:54
The heritage listing recognised the saleyard's special association with the community. It's one of the reasons it made the register.
Sue Harrison 05:01
It's a great atmosphere for specially now a lot of older farmers that retired and they love to go and have a chat, socialise with people. It's a social day as well as being a sale day.
Peter Hayes 05:13
I've been doing it, so my company's been doing this for the last 19 years. Prior to that worked for Primack
Laura Corrigan 05:21
Peter Hayes is the auctioneer you heard earlier. His business Hayes & Co has been the lessee of the Beaudesert Pig and Calf Saleyard for 19 years. But that lease is up at the end of March.
Peter Hayes 05:32
A lot of these people are coming in now they come they with the grandfathers and fathers. There are gentlemen there in their late 80s have been coming here since they were little boys. So a lot of history and nostalgia for them, and it's a meeting place these people come to the yard, they sell their small stock there. We sell fruit and veggies, everything there at the moment and then they go into town. They have lunch ,do their shopping, you know, so Beaudesert the township itself does do very well out of the fortnightly sale.
Laura Corrigan 05:59
Hundreds of people come from across south east Queensland and even New South Wales for the fortnightly Beaudesert pig and calf sale. Peter says, ballpark figure, about 10 to 20-thousand dollars changes hands at the sales including the market stalls. Not only do these visitors put money into the sales they also boost the local economy by having lunch at a cafe in town or getting their groceries at the Woolies.
Peter Hayes 06:23
It's a good atmosphere people either pick up a bargain as they call it. Buy some roosters or laying hens. You know it's sort of just a hobby farmers sort of outing and you know a lot of these people come and meet their friends every fortnight so it's a real sort of countryfied day like a market day on it. And it's getting bigger and bigger. Like lately we've had 250 people been coming school holidays or they go very well acted with the school children. There's probably a lot more than that come there and the children come to just to see the animals and all the other eceteras that go with it.
Laura Corrigan 06:56
Peter says the sales can continue after the lease lapses but at one of his different saleyard 45 minutes inland, drawing the crowds away from Beaudesert. He says the sales will lose their atmosphere at the Silverdale site, and that they'll probably lose the Gold Coast crowd. The Scenic Rim Regional Council cites health and safety issues as the reason for discontinuing the sales. I asked Mayor Greg Christensen how the saleyard could've continued for so long if it was supposedly unsafe, why hadn't issues been identified before the heritage listing? He told me that an engineering report into the saleyard took place because the end of Peter Hayes' lease was coming up. That it had been a long lease -- 19 years -- granted by the previous council, before amalgamation. He calls it a legacy issue.
Greg Christensen 07:46
It's not until you take your car and put it in the hands of a qualified mechanic that you discover there are some issues with your car or that the brakes are about to need replacement, that somewhat what an engineering review does when you get that done for a building. So this isn't a surprise, we have been doing some ongoing minor maintenance over time where we've identified the need to repair roofs and replace posts. Now this has some more fundamental issues in it that would be significantly incompatible.
Laura Corrigan 08:20
Council officers found that the saleyard didn't meet health and environmental standards because, among other things, half the pens have earthen floors.
Greg Christensen 08:29
It should have a concrete floor with an environmental intercept drain or stop waste from the site going into the county drainage system because that's an environmental pollutant. It's an earthen floor saleyards at the moment that's part of the cultural character that the heritage listing wants to preserve.
Laura Corrigan 08:49
Peter admits the saleyard needs maintenance but says it's a safe workplace.
Peter Hayes 08:54
So you have put a new roof on the shed in the last two years it's fully roofed and a lighting system being put in for anything if we've always had to do upkeep and repairs with any facility as it goes along to probably wouldn't hurt to have a little bit of a peace of mind but not we're not classed as unsafe, no.
Laura Corrigan 09:12
The historic saleyard sits in Davidson Park -- the old railway station yard -- adjacent to Scenic Rim Regional Council's civic centre. The estimated 13-million dollar revitalisation plan, partly funded by the Queensland government under the Building our Regions Fund, would transform Beaudesert. It proposes a stand-alone library or an integrated facility that incorporates the council administration building. There'd also be new greenspaces and parking... And when the saleyard was granted heritage status it protected it from being removed to accommodate the new precinct.
Derek Swanborough 09:46
I've seen a lot of the heritage of this town disappear and it should never have disappeared over the 20 years that I was, 16 years as a director and another four years as a councillor.
Laura Corrigan 09:58
Councillor Derek Swanborough supports the heritage listing and was the councillor who presented the initial petitions with 1250 signatories to Scenic Rim Regional council.
Derek Swanborough 10:08
I've seen the butter factory which was going to be turned into a major tourist attraction sold off and demolished. I've seen, you know, the railway tracks pulled up. And now we're talking about doing away with the pig and calf saleyards, which, if there was more foresight, they could turn that into probably a very, very attractive tourist attraction which would bring people into the town. They just need to bring it up to standard a very good standard. They need to keep it operating.
Laura Corrigan 10:46
Derek isn't even the councillor for Beaudesert, his division actually emcompasses Tamborine Mountain, 40 minutes away. But he believes the saleyard plays an important role in Beaudesert and the region.
Derek Swanborough 10:57
They play a very, very important role in that they do represent the historical development of Beaudesert's cattle industry. And it's been a center for the area for the community to meet. And it's been part of the social fabric. I suppose in the culture and the heritage of that small town.
Laura Corrigan 11:19
Derek says the rural history of Beaudesert is its point of difference and that the saleyard could add to a tourist drawcard... more so than a library and parkland which you can find anywhere, he says.
Derek Swanborough 11:30
And with one out the center of the Brisbane CBD, people will come to the town to enjoy something that's different. Essentially trying to create Tinseltown if you like. I quite often call it South Bank in beaudesert with all the money that's proposed for this parkland, but people aren't going to drive to beaudesert from Brisbane, they can just go to Southbank. If they want to parkland experience, they're not gonna drive to Beaudesert. But if you had a pig and calf cell yard to come and see how rural town operates, and you know see the chickens being sold, and the cats and the dogs and pigs and the calves and all sorts of things like that, what a great celebration of the heritage of a small country town and I think it's something that unique and it would be a lost opportunity to let that go.
Laura Corrigan 12:21
Sue Harrison also believes there's value in promoting the saleyard as a tourist attraction.
Sue Harrison 12:26
You think they'd be trying to think well do like Warrick did, Warrick fixed all their saleyards up and now it's a huge tourist attraction. Same with Roma, you know, they've fixed all their yards up. It defies all logic, really. But then, yeah, that's Council.
Laura Corrigan 12:42
Scenic Rim Regional Council had not supported the heritage bid because it says it doesn't believe the saleyard satisfies state-level heritage criteria. Its initial response when the saleyard was added to the heritage register was that it didn't impact on the town centre revitalisation plans. It could work around it if it had to. Then, at an ordinary meeting on February 23 a motion was put forward by the Resources and Sustainability Manager to appeal against the heritage listing, an appeal with an estimated cost of f$50,000.
Derek Swanborough 13:16
Greg Christensen 13:18
Don't, that is quite a smug I see the look the smug look, please councillor for clarity. I'll clarify again for you because
Laura Corrigan 13:28
Derek Swanborough was the only councillor to vote against the motion.
Laura Corrigan 13:33
It was carried. Council would appeal.
Laura Corrigan 13:38
A Department of Environment & Science spokesperson told me heritage officers aren't aware of any local authority appealing against an entry into the heritage register, over the past ten years. Cliff Kroesen doesn't understand what grounds the council thinks it will have to appeal against the heritage listing.
Cliff Kroesen 13:55
As I understand it, it's highly unusual for a council to appeal a state heritage listing. I understand that that's quite a rare event. I don't understand the basis for the appeal. The only way that an appeal can be successful is if it demonstrates that place of interest does not meet the heritage criteria and given the pig and calf saleyards met four of the criteria. I'm not quite sure how an appeal could be successful inrebutting all four of those.
Laura Corrigan 14:23
Councillor Dereck Swanborough also believes its case would be weak.
Derek Swanborough 14:26
The only thing that this planning and Environment Court is going to consider is whether counsel can prove that this place or area does not have a strong or special association with a particular community cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. And despite my prodding, I could not get anybody to tell me how they're going to say it did not do those things at that the heritage council say that it does.
Laura Corrigan 14:57
But Mayor Greg Chistensen says the main reason for the appeal is to give the council more time to fully understand its commitments under the heritage listing.
Greg Christensen 15:06
Part of the process of an appeal is to get a better understanding of the limitations. One of the serious implications that we sit at the moment if we do nothing, potentially, the structure is not safe for anyone to enter. And it's not safe to continue to use. So it ends up being barricaded off as a static display that can't be used for anything because of all of those other aspects.
Laura Corrigan 15:31
Greg says the $50,000 cited on the motion of appeal isn't indicative of actual costs.
Greg Christensen 15:37
We're not anticipating anywhere near that sort of expence, it takes some time. And normally, our experiences, one of the first steps in any of these matters, is to have a mediation process, which is where you get to have a proper conversation and resolve the points of difference in understanding around the issue.
Laura Corrigan 15:59
Council feels it's at an impasse. If sales are to continue safely then there needs to be upgrades made on the saleyard... But would these upgrades -- a concrete floor, drainage systems to name a few -- affect its heritage status? Is it even allowed to make changes to the original structure under the heritage requirements? And, the heritage listing notes that the structure has "sustained its use" since 1960. Suggesting that its role as a working saleyard contributes to its heritage value. So if the sales stop does it lose the heritage status? That's why, council says, it's lodging an appeal -- to better understand the terms of the heritage listing.
Michael Enright 16:38
My name is Michael enright, I'm the councillor for Division four of the Scenic Rim Regional Council.
Laura Corrigan 16:43
Michael Enright is the councillor for the division that covers Beaudesert. He voted in favour of the appeal. He also put forward a compromise. He suggests creating a heritage display using parts of the original structure, storyboards, even augmented reality.
Michael Enright 17:01
That respects the heritage, provides the story against it, it becomes something a bit unique, and somethign that attracts people to that area. That would allow for the visibility of that particular area. And understanding for people to visit that seven days a week, virtually 24 hours a day.
Laura Corrigan 17:26
Michael says he put forward the compromise because he thinks it makes sense for Beaudesert as a town in transition.
Michael Enright 17:32
I guess what I really am looking for is the best outcome for all of our community, not one sector or the other. Our town is a growing area, we have some growing pains, and that's about when things change, that some people are less comfortable about that change. But we need to be moving ahead. We're in a location of southeast Queensland where the growth is significant, and the forecasts are significant. And our little country town is not a little country town any longer. My vision is that we do build for the future, while still recognising the heritage of our past.
Peter Hayes 18:20
Now before we start I have a bit of bad news for you people.
Laura Corrigan 18:26
Beaudesert Times journalist Larraine Sathicq went along to the pig and calf sales, one of the last.
Peter Hayes 18:33
Renew our lease
Laura Corrigan 18:35
She spoke to some people gathered there.
Look this council won't get back in again. I can guarantee most people's feelings here are pretty disheartened and angry. Well, I think they had to find some excuse for shutting it. So that's why they're doing this about it's not safe. I've been coming here 40 years and not one person has been injured in these yards. COVID has taught us that our agriculture industry is screaming out for young people to participate in it and learn the industry. In 10 years time there'll be houses from Tamborine right to here. And this will be a draw card. Somewhere to go. We don't just spend our money here we also spend it in town.
Laura Corrigan 19:19
Larraine met a family who'd just been driving through and stopped when they saw the commotion. They left, home to the Gold Coast, with two ducklings. Sue Harrison says she was very disappointed by the council's decision to challenge the saleyard's heritage status.
Sue Harrison 19:35
Everyone was so happy when the heritage council gave it the heritage listing and we thought well let it be the end of it. I really can't work out why the council and the councillors haven't wanted to embrace it. You own a house. You don't let it run down. If you own a shop, you don't let it run down and you spend money on it for maintenance. You pick it up. Why don't they want to do it for the rural community. All those people that signed those petitions they all wanted the saleyards to stay. You know why the council going against what all the residents say? That's what I can't work out. I really can't work it out.
Laura Corrigan 20:11
Councillor Derek Swanborough says the council is not listening to the Beaudesert community.
Derek Swanborough 20:19
They are one eyed. They're really one eyed about this particular facility interfering with their grand plans for their redevelopment in the main street, and I think they've lost sight of the very thing that they've been told by the community and that is, we have a community plan that was put together with extensive consultation several years ago, and it was a five year plan. And in that plan, it clearly says the people of Beaudesert value, their rural and country heritage. And I've pointed that out to council many times, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Laura Corrigan 21:02
There's a new petition now. One calling for an independent investigation into the Scenic Rim Regional council citing a number of issues, among those is the treatment of the Beaudesert pig and calf saleyard.
Tom Sharp 21:13
A lot of people had been expressing to me, their angst and frustration with council.
Laura Corrigan 21:22
Tom Sharp was involved with that petition on change.org titled "Stop the Rot at Scenic Rim Regional Council".
Tom Sharp 21:29
The community is upset, they've had enough. And it's very difficult to address this situation to an organisation that is close to criticism that is close to an open agenda, that will not engage with its own people.
Laura Corrigan 21:46
The online petition asks Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to intervene. It has 1300 signatories at the time of recording.
Tom Sharp 21:54
I think there's a number of issues there. And I think we the people of this region, are not informed as to what council's agenda actually is. There's now through recent meetings. There's information that is partly coming out, that really shows that the appeal process of this is merely the tip of the iceberg. And it is a facade to the whole program which the people of this region have not been made aware of the appeal process in itself appears to be flawed.
Laura Corrigan 22:36
Tom actually ran for mayor at the last election. He questions the council's plans for a new library. And a number of other people I spoke to were against the concept. Beaudesert already has a library, it's in Jubilee Park not 500 metres away near the museum, a children's playground and the swimming pool. Tom wants to know what basis the council has to spend millions on a new library.
Tom Sharp 22:55
Where's the report that tells you the usage in the region and the need that demonstrates the numbers that are going through now. And whether it's underutilised or overutilised and what can be done to change that. If they want a new customer services centre, what's the usage of that customer service centre in this day and age. If it overflowing with people every hour of the day, is there need to spend millions of dollars on a new customer service centre. This council does not present the arguement that sets up the sort of need of the incredible spend for a regional centre.
Laura Corrigan 23:34
He suggests the only people benefiting from council's town centre revitalisation plans are the council administration themselves. The project provides parking near the council chambers and the new library might be attached to the council precinct. He accuses the council of not being transparent in its consultation processes. But mayor Greg Christensen denies this. He's called the petition "defamatory innuendo" and an attack on the 400 "hard-working" council employees. He says the plans were all made publicly and the community was given the opportunity to make submissions.
Greg Christensen 24:13
There are people who didn't bother to engage with the very open and transparent conversations that were going on and the opportunities that were going on for people to be involved in the planning and have their say around what was planned in the towns and villages renewal proposal for the centre of town. And it just seems those people finally suddenly woke up and enlisted a whole heap of other voices who had equally not been paying attention. And also then responded perhaps without reference to true fact in the petitions, and left us with a whole heap of people who now thought their voice was the most important one to listen to you have just as many people contacting me to say we should get rid of these as I do, people who are saying, why aren't we fighting to hang on to them. So that's the nature we can't please everyone.
Laura Corrigan 25:16
Greg says the council is working in Beaudesert's best interest, that proper consultation has taken place. That it's listening and that not all voices are asking them to save the saleyard. Greg also suggests the sales themselves could continue just not at the current site.
Greg Christensen 25:42
Those two aren't mutually connected. We have plenty of interest from other parties who would be happy to either develop a facility or modify our facility to conduct a pig and calf sale so that cultural event, that event that some people rely on to be able to socialize and to sell their animals, the event itself can still continue. There are options for that in the region. We're really focused in the heritage council listing around the structure and the in compatibility between the heritage listing and the potential for ongoing use in the footprint.
Laura Corrigan 26:22
Cliff Kroesen says the saleyard controversy shows the community pride in Beaudesert.
Cliff Kroesen 26:27
Beaudesert still has a very strong sense of community. And that's been demonstrated throughout this entire process. And the saleyards are still a central pillar of the rural character of the community. They are a social meeting place there a place to exchange ideas, and farming conditions and so forth. The importance of that to the community isn't to be underestimated. And I think that's been expressed through the uproar.
Laura Corrigan 26:52
Sue Harrison says she just can't understand why the council would want to get rid of the saleyard.
Sue Harrison 26:57
Why are they so intent on upsetting the rural value of our, the Scenic Rim? You know, there's still a lot of rural farms out here in, we're not all suburban people that there's still a lot of properties. Why doesn't the Scenic Rim council want to you know, why don't they want to keep them as a local business? You know, making money for somebody just doesn't make sense.
Tom Melville 27:26
Cattle farmers Sue Harrison, they're the biggest calf sell yard has been a big part of her life.
Tom Melville 27:37
That's it for this episode of voice of real Australia. Thank you so much for listening, subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen and I'll be back in a couple of weeks. If you like the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a five star rating on Apple podcasts. It really does help. If you'd like to share your story email voice at asked community media.com.au that's voice at asked a USD community media.com.au our Facebook page is facebook.com slash voice of real Australia. Voice of real Australia is recorded in the studios of the Newcastle Herald. It's produced by Laura Corrigan and me Your host Tom Melville. Follow me on twitter at Tom Melville 124. Our editors are Gail Tomlinson and Chad Watson. A special thanks this week to Lorraine Sathicq. This is an ACM podcast.