By JR on Wednesday, June 08, 2011
In the name of animal rights, the Australian government halts live cattle exports to Indonesia. Livelihoods don't matter to this government
The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) says the Gillard government's ban on live export will destroy the Australian cattle industry and won't stop the cruelty. The Federal government has suspended the export of live cattle to Indonesia, with port authorities stopping nearly 2000 cattle being loaded on to a ship in Western Australia yesterday.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is understood to have signed the order last night, with the ban expected to apply for six months until mechanisms for the improved treatment of live cattle along the whole supply chain are in place.
The NTCA held a special meeting in Katherine, about 300km south of Darwin, yesterday before meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Darwin. NTCA president Rohan Sullivan the 100 pastoralists who attended the meeting agreed improved animal welfare would not be achieved by banning live exports.
"If we stop exports to Indonesian, we are walking away from the millions of dollars that Australian producers have invested in infrastructure, training and improved animal husbandry. "There is no Plan B for this industry. "If live exports to Indonesia are closed, families will be bankrupted and for what purpose?
"This doesn't help the cattle who will continue to be processed, just opens the door to imports from other countries which may not adopt our standards or spend what we do on animal welfare."
Mr Sullivan's comments were echoed by Rick Britton, the mayor of Boulia in Queensland's central west, who says the ban will have a devastating effect on cattle producers in northern Australia.
It is believed Cabinet decided to suspend the $318 million-a-year industry on Monday night in response to community outrage and the ire of some Labor backbenchers over the inhumane treatment of the animals.
Live cattle export bodies say they understand why the Government is banning exports to Indonesia and have undertaken to ensure the trade is reformed. In a joint statement released this morning, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and LiveCorp said under proposed reforms, the industry had committed to a reduction of trade to a core group of facilities in Indonesia independently accredited to meet OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) animal welfare standards.
A stringent supply chain, the rapid introduction of stunning and an ongoing review and monitoring program would ensure Australian cattle were processed only through these facilities, they said. "The Australian livestock industry understands the reasons behind the Australian Government's decision to temporarily suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia until a controlled system that will assure the welfare of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia has been implemented," the statement said.
MLA chairman Don Heatley said the suspension of the trade would most certainly have an impact on cattle producers and communities in the north and that needed to be acknowledged. "However, industry is confident it can work with the Australian and Indonesian Governments to deliver the solution," he said in the statement.
"This decision gives industry sufficient time to implement the controlled system which will ensure the appropriate treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with livestock officials and Northern Territory cattlemen in Darwin last night. "In light of the evidence presented to us, we have resolved to put a total suspension in place," Ms Gillard said. She said the suspension will remain until cattle from Australia are treated properly at every step of the supply chain. "We will be working closely with Indonesia, and with the industry, to make sure we can bring about major change to the way cattle are handled in these slaughter houses," she said.
The Australian reports the Port Headland Port Authority had confirmed it had not been allowed to load more than 2000 cattle on to the stock carrier The Falconia, bound for Indonesia.
Mr Ludwig suspended trade to 12 Indonesian abattoirs last week after the ABC's Four Corners aired video footage of steers being abused at the facilities. Indonesia accounts for about 60 per cent of Australia's live cattle exports.
Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon plan to launch private Bills into Parliament, calling for an end to all live exports within three years.
LiveCorp chief executive Cameron Hall said MLA and Livecorp were reviewing industry programs in all markets to ensure Australian animals were being treated humanely and with respect during management and processing. "These solutions will take time but the Australian industry is committed to ensuring Australian producers have confidence their livestock are well treated and retain access to key markets," he said.