Australian agriculture minister Joe Ludwig has underlined his support for the long term future of the live cattle industry in the face of ongoing calls from crossbench MPs and animal rights groups for a total ban on the trade.
Senator Ludwig, who suspended live exports to Indonesia on animal welfare grounds on June 8 following footage aired on ABC’s Four Corners program, told journalists following his trip to Jakarta that he did not agree with calls for the termination of the entire live export industry.
“Many, many in the community, as I was, saw the footage, saw the outcomes and wanted a total ban,” Senator Ludwig said.
“It’s not my view that we should have that.
“It’s my view that we should have this industry for the longer term.”
Senator Ludwig met with several Government ministers and officials in Jakarta earlier this week, and said discussions focused on how the trade could be re-opened as soon as possible while maintaining animal welfare outcomes.
He said the Australian and Indonesian Governments had agreed to establish a set of mutual standards for the live animal export trade.
What form those standards will take is now central to negotiations.
The Federal Government has presented Indonesia with a series of draft supply chain assurance guidelines that comply with OIE standards and encourage the use of stunning prior to slaughter.
In a sign that a quick resumption may not be likely, Senator Ludwig conceded that no agreement had yet been reached on the final standards, and that inspections of abattoirs had not yet commenced.
“Clearly, this issue will not be resolved overnight,” he said.
He said that the size and nature of the trade after the ban would depend on the industry’s ability to put the appropriate supply chain assurances in place.
“It is my view that we should have this industry for the longer term,” Mr Ludwig said.
“How we do that and what it would look like will by and large how industry responds to the requirements to put in place the supply chain assurance.
“It will mean that industry can engage in that supply chain, have a supply chain assurance in place and then undertake this industry for the longer term so over the longer term this provides for growth potential for all participants including Indonesia including its feedlots, including its supply chain into abattoirs. “
However, if the industry failed to deliver the appropriate animal welfare outcomes, its social license to operate would be put in jeopardy.
Malcolm Jackman, the chief executive of Elders , which owns and operates a closed feedlot and abattoir system within Indonesia, said there was no reason why the Australian Government could not allow exports to assured supply chains already.
"Elders cattle export and processing operations in Indonesia already function at a level that is expected by the Australian market and exceed the current [World Organization for Animal Health] standards across its supply chain," Mr. Jackman said.
Elders operates an abattoir at Bogor city, a feedlot near Jakarta, and the MV Torrens cattle transport vessel.