Live Export

Broome hearing: Assistance package “an absolute nonsense”

James Nason, 02/09/2011

A central plank of the Federal Government’s assistance package for businesses affected by its decision to temporarily suspend all live exports to Indonesia in June was yesterday described by producers and senators as “an absolute nonsense”.

Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig last month announced that the Government would provide interest rate subsidies over two years so affected businesses could take out new commercial loans of up to $300,000 to access the cash they require to survive the impact of the ban.

One producer said debt levels were so high and property values now so low since the ban that it would be all but impossible for many producers to borrow more money.

“I was talking to my bank manager yesterday and I said can I borrow another $300,000,” he said.

“He said we would need a valuation.

“If had a valuation done, I would have to pay him. 

“Our debt to equity ratio would be appalling, and you’d have to pay $10,000 to get it done.

“Unless you’ve got low debt levels, and most of us have been through some pretty tight years, so no one is going to be able to access that.”

Pastoralists also told yesterday's inquiry that they had not applied for the $25,000 in direct assistance that was also available because it was so insignificant compared to what they had lost as a result of the ban. 

Several speakers at address yesterday's hearing said freight, fuel and aviation gas subsides would provide useful assistance.

Coalition senators also raised a suggestion that the Australian Government could offer realistic and practical help to those stranded financially by the ban by encouraging Indonesia to lift the 350kg weight limit it imposes on cattle imports for the remainder of this year.

Under the suggestion the Australian Government would pay producers $2/kg for every kilogram over 350kg and Indonesia would receive the extra weight at no cost.

The proposal met with a positive response from producers.


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