Agriculture minister Senator Joe Ludwig won few fans when he visited Kimberley cattle producers back in July, as evidenced by statements provided to yesterday’s inquiry by Jack Burton of Kilto Station at Broome.
Mr Burton runs a large and successful operation which runs 50,000 cattle, grows irrigated forage and prepares cattle for shipping through an export depot. He also has plans to build an abattoir in Derby.
While diversified, the business is still 100pc reliant on the fortunes of the live export trade.
Mr Burton told the Senate hearing that his interest bill exceeded $100,000 every month, or $1.2 million a year.
He said that by comparison the $25,000 offered in assistance by the Government was “bloody hilarious”.
But he was most scathing of Mr Ludwig, who he said had insulted producers by displaying a fundamental lack of understanding about their industry when he visited in July.
“We want a situation where no one is in a position again to be so un-informed and make such a catastrophic decision
“Let me just quote –Senator Ludwig came here two days after the ban had been lifted… after two hours of dealing with 30-40 odd producers, some pretty heated discussion, the minister then said, well I want the opportunity to put to the floor some questions.
“And I kid you not, this is a quote: he said please explain it, how does it work, how do you get the order for cattle, and who pays.
“This is just the basic fundamentals of our industry. He was asking ‘if a boat comes to town, how do you know you can put cattle on it, who owns them, who pays for them?’”.
"Honestly we thought it was a trick question because we thought this far down the track, that a minister for agriculture, could ask a question of producers who he had just smashed to smithereens and fixed, apparently, according to him, and then come to us with a question about the absolute basic fundamentals of our industry.
“He never had the decency to learn about our industry before he killed it.”
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