Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has welcomed the live cattle export suspension being lifted after what he says has been a tense month of waiting for one of Northern Australia’s largest industries.
Mr Entsch said the Government’s knee-jerk reaction to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia before listening to the industry about how best to tackle the problem, just shows the lack of understanding the Government has of the cattle industry.
“The Government forced an industry worth hundreds of millions across the country and approx. $100 million a year in Queensland alone to halt all of its trade overnight without notice. This has far reaching implications for our economy long term which will take time to repair.
“The trade did not need to be suspended for a month, immediate measures could have been put in place when the inhumane treatment in certain abattoirs was exposed. Swift action on this issue would have avoided causing untold damage to Australia’s relationship with Indonesia and the viability of the live cattle export industry.
“Let’s be very clear here, over the past four weeks all the Government has done is hold a few round table meetings and then put the onus back on the cattle industry to monitor the humane treatment of the cattle. This could have been done overnight when this issue was initially raised instead of putting strain on an already suffering industry in the wake of Cyclone Yasi and the floods.
“The industry received little assistance from the Government to get back on its feet after these epic natural disasters, and then they literally pulled the rug from under them in a very irresponsible decision without really understanding the issue at hand. The inhumane treatment of these animals was contained to a certain number of abattoirs, not all abattoirs.
“The Indonesians are understandably annoyed about the whole ordeal as they were not consulted with or even given an opportunity to rectify the problem before the decision was made.
“Cattle prices have dropped by up to $0.50c a kilo and more across Australia and are continuing to drop as we now have a confidence problem with the industry.
“This has caused major financial upheaval for both Australian cattlemen and the Indonesian economy. This has had a huge impact on the incomes of people like Cameron and Doreen Quartermaine in Cape York who relied on this trade as a primary source of income. The trickle-down effect of this will be felt throughout the entire Australian economy at a time when we need to be supporting stable industries, not sticking the knife in them.
“It is obvious that the Government could have responded more appropriately and responsibly on this and we need to ensure that this kind of hasty decision making never happens again and that adequate steps are taken to protect the industry in question,” said Mr Entsch.