Goulburn #217. NSW

Located 200km southwest of Sydney and north of Canberra. Has faced major shortage of animal supply issues in the past due to drought and decreased national sheep herd. Recently increased costs of water affected operations.

Other Names

  • Southern Meats.

Current Operation

  • Currently in operation.
  • Ausmeat Accreditation number #02178



  • Goulburn is located 200km South west of Sydney and 90km north of Canberra
  • Abbatoir is located 99-241 Mazamet road, Goulburn NSW.


Goulburn #2

Hema Maps – Australia Truckies atlas.


  • Southern Meats Goulburn1
    • Also own Harden abattoir (NSW) – closed Harden in 2006.
    • Joined with Western Australian Meat Marketing co-operative Limited (WAMMCO)10


  • Export abattoir for sheep and sheep offal.8
  • Specialist plant of sheep and lamb production5
  • Draws livestock from Victoria and NSW5
  • Pupose built boning room for further processing of customers orders5
  • Skins processed to drum salt stage5
  • Rendering facility produces bleachable and bleached tallow in addition to bloodmeal and meatmeal5
  • Production is predominently export-driven including the Middle east and US market6
    • SE Asia and Japan5
    • simple 6-way packs to more detailed specifications for orders6
  • Capacity to process 8,000 sheep and lambs a day10
  • Livestock kept in covered yards on arrival at plant10



  • Goulburn was a strategically important abattoir at this time27.
    • Operated by local government to boost local employment and establish regional livestock selling centres27.
    • Others at the time were located27


  • Operated as an export facility with chilling, freezing an freezing storage capacity by the Goulburn City Council25


  • Neville Newton purchases the Goulburn abattoir28


  • July. Is Aus-meat registered at this time26.
    • Operated by Southern Meats Pty Ltd26


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20024,Harden abattoir (NSW) and Goulburn combined.
    • Ranked 10th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20014
    • Throughput 65,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)4
    • Turnover $225M4


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20024, Harden abattoir (NSW) and Goulburn combined.
    • Ranked 12th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20024
    • Throughput 49,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)4
    • Kill share 1.8%4
    • Turnover $206M4
    • Total staff 7004


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20035, Harden abattoir (NSW) and Goulburn combined.
    • Ranked 14th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20025
    • Throughput 46,675 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)5
    • Turnover $180M5


  • Major problem facing the industry was the lack of growth in the Australian sheep flock, combined with skyrocketing cost of lamb in recent years.1
  • July. Major problem was lack of rain1
    • need water to use to run the plant1
  • Plant is currently operating 4 to 5 days a week.1
  • Plant was closed for a number of months in 2003 due to drought and low availability of stock numbers1
  • livestock supply improved in 2004
    • average carcase weights slightly higher
    • 2nd shift work put into operation
  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20045, Harden abattoir (NSW) and Goulburn combined.
    • Ranked 10th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20045
    • Throughput 55,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)5
    • Kill share 2.6%5
    • Turnover $185M5
    • Total staff 4805
    • Production split 95% export, 5% domestic5
    • Species split 75% sheep, 25% lamb5
  • Harden abattoir (NSW) closed 2004 due to stock shortages.


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20066, Goulburn only
    • Ranked 10th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20056
    • Throughput 55,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)6
    • Turnover $185M6


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20066, Goulburn only
    • Ranked 14th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20066
    • Throughput 51,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)6
    • Kill share 1.8%6
    • Total staff 4806
    • Production split 95% export, 5% domestic6
    • Species split 75% sheep, 25% lamb6
    • Brands Fine Brand, Country Meadow, Southern Cross6


  • Southern Meats Pty Ltd – figures for year ending December 20067, Goulburn only
    • Ranked 25th in Top 25 Australian beef and Sheepmeat processors for 20077
    • Throughput 28,000 ETCW (estimated tonnes carcase weight)7
    • Kill share 0.97%7
    • Total staff 4807


  • Forced to let workers go who worked afternoon shift
  • Going through an extremely long dry period
  • February. Southern Meats will shut down it’s Goulburn abattoir operations if a new saleyard is approved for building 250m from its own front gate11
    • Saleyard is proposed by Kattle Gear Australia11
      • $9M complex in Mazamet road11
        • Cater to 20,000 sheep and 2,500 cattle11
  • Southern Meats Owner and General Manager – Mr Neville Newton11


  • February. Goulburn. Currently employs 250 people3
    • Used to have more than 4003
  • Central West NSW used to have 11 abattoirs now it just has 44
  • Livestock numbers plummet due to long period of drought4
  • “It’s disastrous. There are far too many processing abattoirs out there and not enough animals to slaughter” Neville Newton. Goulburn owner / Operator4
  • Currently 29 licensed red meat abattoirs in NSW4
    • down by 30% from a decade ago4


  • March. Southern meats had forced full production shutdown for 16 weeks – March to June.9
    • Abattoir closed March 21 for six weeks due to livestock shortages12
      • Low sheep numbers14
        • Sever drought that has caused this and another lengthy closure this year15
      • High Australian dollar on the export markets14
    • May 2 re-start is subject to stock availability12
    • 180 employees were laid off.
  • April. Local town employers are encouraged to employ the meat workers on a seasonal basis  to prevent the loss of their expertise and skills from the area12
    • Some workers are using long service leave and annual leave to survive the downturn12
    • Important to retain as many of the people locally to minimise the impact on the local economy12
    • Workers age range from 16 to 66 with 40% female12
      • some had gone to Canberra in the building trade and others had began work at the Tahmoor poultry plant12
  • Industry and Investment NSW and Southern Meats have developed a scheme to train abattoir workers in other fields13
    • Aim is to keep the workers in Goulburn during the plant’s shut down periods13
  • May 28. Plant announces it will not restart until July 414.
    • Second time the re-opening has been delayed14
    • AMIEU claim the abattoir is about to be sold14.
      • AMIEU organiser Mark Perkins14
      • Current employment agreement covers short-term closures and stand-downs but not the sale of the facility14
      • Union were not informed of extension of closure until 27/05/201114
    • Management of the plant decline to comment on the facilities future14
  • June. Abattoir is sold to the Western Australian Meat Marketing Co-operative (WAMMCO) for an undisclosed sum15
    • WAMMCO have another plant in Katanning15
    • Sale includes business, land and buildings15
      • Sale had been in negotiation for 3 months
      • WAMMCO will take on all former workers15
      • had been aware Goulburn was experiencing difficulties15
      • Plant to reopen July 115
  • Competition had been very difficult with 2 major lamb processors pushing up livestock prices15
  • The abattoirs premier export product was a strong attraction to the buyer15
  • WAMMCO wanted to branch into eastern states15.
    • 1.3M head of sheep had left WA in 9 months to eastern states15.
    • Risk management strategy15.
  • AMIEU is confident most workers will return to the abattoir when it re-opens July 416.
    • all entitlements of employees who would return would be paid16
    • Union have a good relationship with WAMMCO in the west16
  • July 5. Plant reopens17
    • Approximately half of the workforce have returned17
      • Just over 100 people returned17
    • Reopen under Southern Meats name17
      • Chief Executive Coll MacRury17
    • Plant would restart at 60-70% capacity to build to full production17
    • Southern Meats want to double capacity and employ 400 people17
    • Livestock would be sourced from saleyards and direct from the paddock17
      • Direct from the paddock was more efficient and used in the west17
    • Plant would continue will supply to halal markets17
      • Animals were stunned with an electric stunner pre slaughter17
    • Previously plant had focused on mutton export17
      • WAMMCO would pursue more lamb products17
        • 20% going to the domestic market18
        • May take 18 months to build domestic opportunities18
        • Australian dollar was so strong against most countries’ currency18
    • Most stock would be secured from producers within 2-3 hours of the facility18
    • WAMMCO Western Australia is run at 90% direct from producers supply18
    • Plan to get Goulburn supplied 75-80% direct18
      • then adopt some principles of the NSW co-operative18
        • performance based payments18
        • work with producers to lift genetic pool18
        • produce the type of lamb market wants18
    • Immediate aim is to get the plant to profitability18
      • Will need to see numbers improve18
        • Better margins back to the business18
        • Wants plant back to capacity on one shift18
          • Processing 4,200 – 4,500 sheep and lambs per day18
      • Will take a couple of years18
      • Prices paid in the last 10-12 months are not sustainable18
        • market can’t support that type of buying18


  • August. owner expressed concerns about its viability and job security when its annual water charges skyrocketed by up to $70,0002
    • Council introduced a new policy – water is calculated on amount used.2
    • Council agreed to reduce charges and do a watching brief of water use.2
      • aware of need to assit meat industry, export and internally in tough times.2
  • Plant is already facing significant cost increases due to carbon tax and exchange rates.2
  • Abattoir is unable to pass costs on the extra costs19.
    • people just don’t get employed to offset costs19


  • March. Abattoir has thrown down gauntlet in regards to Goulburn’s water pricing20
    • Council suggested a 25% discount on water charges to the business20
      • Southern Meats say this will add $150,000 annually or 69% to their bill20
  • In the current business environment this is not sustainable for Southern Meats and if this is adopted it would have a severe impact on our ability to operate successfully in Goulburn” Southern Meats CEO Coll MacRury20
  • Abattoir would be unable to provide further employment if the water charges are implemented20
  • Council has also risen residential water charges by 33%20
    • ‘Full cost recovery’ for council’s water business unit20
    • in line with state government directive20
    • Price of water was cheap in the first place20
    • Prices had not risen for a long time20
  • Council have allowed 42% reduction to the abattoir – $125,000 annually20
    • Phased in over 5 years20
      • Abattoir say the charges are still not acceptable20
    • Abattoir uses 210 Megalitres annually (2011/2012)20
      • 10% of entire Goulburn water use20
      • currently pays 97c/kilolitre = $205,000 annual water bill20
        • If it paid the same as other businesses it would pay $570,000 pa20
        • Initial offer $365,000 reduction in fee = $36 cross subsidy by every Goulburn property20
        • Latest offer abattoir would pay $1.57/kl cross subsidy of $43 per property20
  • Abattoirs are facing high costs20
    • Livestock costs are high20
    • high Australian dollar20
    • higher business and labour costs relative to other countries20.
      • Any competitive advantage was critical20
    • Says other competitors are paying less for their water20
  • Other businesses lost in the region included Oral B, Supertex, The Goulburn Wool Scour and Kermac20
  • Southern Meats employs 270 people20
    • Slaughters 3,600 sheep and lambs daily20


  • August. Agreement is made with Japanese city businessman signs a deal worth $340,00021
    • Goulburn sister city to Japanese city Shibetsu21
    • Mr Imai – CEO of Shizou Farm Corporation21
      • Own
        • several restaurants21
        • motel21
        • runs 600 Suffolk sheep on his farm21
        • grows 143 acres of sugar beet21
      • One of the largest operations in Japan21
        • 43 greenhouses21
        • a meat processing works to slaughter own stock and imported21 animals21
        • catering firm contracts to Nippon Airways21
        • Transport business21
    • Goulburn abattoir agreement will see 17 tonnes of lamb exported by air and ship21
      • Initially the contract had been with a Melbourne site21
    • Goulburn exports 800 tonnes of high quality lamb to Japan annually21
      • Overall exports 500 – 600 tonne every week21
  • Russia has imposed sanctions against Australian products including beef and pork21
    • Unsure if lamb will be affected at this date2


  • June. work will soon begin on a state-of-the-art renewable energy project22
    • Goulburn abattoir will be able to harness power of own methane22
    • Australian first22
    • Biogas will be used to generate electricity that offsets grid supplied electricity22
      • Biogas is currently used as a fuel at a number of processing works22
    • Quantum Power, Gold coast based bioenergy company will construct the equipment22
      • generate up to 1MW or renewable energy22
        • sufficient to offset power of 400 homes22
        • Offset 40% of grid supplied electricity to the abattoir22
        • take 6-9 months to construct, beginning in 3 months22
          • Once built it will convert waste stream to biogas comprising of 60% methane22
  • November. Unique Australian technology is taking the injuries out of bandsaw work in abattoirs23
    • Goulburn abattoir is one of several installing ‘bladestop’ technology23
      • operator becomes part of electronic circuit connected to the saw23
        • If person touches it, stops within 15 milliseconds23
        • Operator wears a belt that has an electronic circuit breaker23
    • 70 units sold in Australia in the last 18 months23
      • Technology has been around for 7 years23
        • Latest model available for the last 2 years23
    • Research has been going for 11 years through MLA23
      • Goulburn was involved in the research projects23
    • gives employees a greater sense of confidence to use the machines23
    • 4 major incidents at Goulburn in the last 5 years involving bandsaws has resulted in 827 hours of lost time and $100,000 workers compensation claims23
    • 2012/2013 Safe Work Australia statistics showed that there were 95 accepted workers compensation claims and $400,000 paid in compensation due to powered saws in the Australian Meat Industry23
  • Southern Meats is currently processing 3,000 – 5,000 lambs per day23
    • Employs 320 staff depending on the season23
    • Majority of meat is exported to European union and Muslim countries23
    • Domestically processed lamb is for Cosco Australia23


  • September. At this point in time the facility is managed by Craig Newton. Son of Neville Newton who had owned the facility from 1991 – 201128


  • April. JBS Australia announce they will temporarily close two of its southern lamb processing plant due to current livestock supply and price conditions24.
  • Other facilities that have also stopped production or reduced throughput recently are24
  • Some plants are currently operating on loss-making skeleton 3 day weekly kills24
  • Recent spate of abattoir closures raises questions in regards to over capacity of the processing sector with oversupply of stock due to drought24
  • Has been high levels of foreign investment interest in investments directed into processing24


Sources  – Goulburn #217 NSW

  1. ‘Harden abattoir closes; Goulburn’s future uncertain’ Goulburn Post 11.07.2004
  2. ‘Financial reprieve for abattoir’s bills’ ABC News 23.08.12
  3. ‘Abattoir industry in disastorous state’ ABC rural 16.02.2010
  4. Feedback. Top 25 red meat processors 2002
  5. Feedback. Top 25 red meat processors 2004
  6. Feedback’s Top 25 red meat processors 2006
  7. Feedback’s Top red meat processors 2007
  8. Ausmeat Accreditation listing as at 20.05.2014
  9. NSW EPA Annual Return. June 2011 – May 2012
  10. http://www.southernmeats.com.au. accessed 21.05.14
  11. ‘The knives are out: Meat works will close if yards built’ Goulburn Post 03.09.2009
  12. ‘Bid to keep ab workers here’ Goulburn Post 05.04.2011
  13. ‘One door shuts…’ Goulburn Post 12.04.2011
  14. ‘Abattoir sheepish’ Goulburn Post 28.05.2011
  15. ‘Abattoir sells up’ Goulburn Post 06.06.2011
  16. ‘Meat works sale buoys union’ Goulburn Post 07.06.2011
  17. ‘New Beginning’ Goulburn Post 05.07.2011
  18. ‘Southern Meats eyes domestic lamb share’ www.farmonline.com.au 08.07.2011
  19. ‘Abattoir appeals for reprieve from soaring water bills’ ABC News. 20.08.2012
  20. ‘Increase will chop into abattoir’s edge’ Goulburn Post 22.03.2013
  21. ‘Goulburn lamb cuts mustard’ Goulburn Post 11.08.2014
  22. ‘Goulburn abattoirs harnesses methane’ Goulburn Post 12.06.2015
  23. ‘Bandsaw safety technology cuts meat processing injuries’ Sheep Central 04.11.2015
  24. ‘Indefinite closures for JBS lamb plants, as supply challenge reaches critical point’ Beef Central 20.04.2017
  25. ‘World on a plate’ Stephen Martyn. 2011
  26. Aus-Meat Accreditation List. July 1997
  27. ‘A giant in the life of Gunnedah – 100 years since O’Keefe bon’ Naomi Valley 23.10.2012
  28. ‘Neville Newton, a man of great substance’ Goulburn Post 20.09.2016
  29. ‘Goulburn, Southern meats winds back lamb and mutton production’ Sheep Central 17.02.2017

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