Papers released with the Federal Budget last week have revealed that legal actions have been launched against the Federal Government for its role in temporarily banning live exports to Indonesia last year.
ABC’s 7:30 program confirmed on Monday night that the Federal Government is facing two legal claims for damages as a result of its June 2011 export ban.
One is from a law firm representing 21 clients, while the second is from another law firm representing three clients.
Industry groups have denied knowledge of the actions, while Federal minister for agriculture Joe Ludwig is also refusing to comment.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on any matters that may be subject to action before the courts,” the Minister said in a written statement.
There has long been talk within the northern cattle trade that class actions would result in response to the Government’s actions last year, however, the Federal Budget paper references have provided the first public confirmation that class actions are indeed underway.
The amount sought is understood to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
"The Australian Government may become liable for compensation following the decision by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to suspend the export of livestock to Indonesia for a period of one month in 2011," the budget papers said.
The papers said the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was working with the Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Australian Government Solicitor and the Attorney General's Department “to progress the claims”.
Speaking on Monday night’s program, Independent MP Bob Katter suggested that producers should direct actions towards Meat and Livestock Australia – which is funded by producer's own dollars.
Meat and Livestock Australia said it is only aware of what has been stated in the Government's budget papers.
"Our knowledge of the claims extends no further than what is contained in the budget papers. No legal notice has been served upon MLA in relation to this," it said in an official statement.