Cattle export compromise?

Cattle held in quarantine could be exported to Indonesia within days under a $9 million industry plan being considered hy the Gillard Govemment. The plan was put to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig by peak industry body Meat and Livestock Australia as an alternative to paying $5 million in compensation to cattle graziers who have been hurt by the ban on live exports.

Senator Ludwig is considering the plan but also wants MLA to pay compensation to cattle producers. Govemment sources said a compromise deal could be announced within days.

Under the industry plan, cattle would be traced and Australian animal welfare officials would be present in each abattoir to train workers and ensure cattle were humanely slaughtered.

The MLA claims there are now ll Indonesian abattoirs with equipment to stun cattle before slaughter and another three facilities could soon have stun guns. The plan includes an audit of Indonesian abattoirs to make sure they comply with intemational standards, and improvements to facilities.

MLA managing director David Palmer said the plan could be tested by a partial lifting of the trade ban. “The industry has told us clearly they don’t want contingency funds, they want an export facility," Mr Palmer said last night

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday said he had discussed the trade ban with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa during a recent trip to Europe. “We discussed this matter thoroughly,” Mr Rudd said. “We will manage this one through, although there will be some challenges on the way,”

Mr Rudd also confirmed he had discussed the trade halt with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday, after which the pair were seen walking in an awkward silence together.

The export ban caused emotional debate in Federal Parliament this week, with the Greens securing another inquiry into animal welfare and Independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie calling for urgent intervention by the Govemment to send stun guns to Indonesian abattoirs.

The above report appeared in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" on 18 June

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