Live Export

Call for Government to buy stranded cattle

James Nason, 10/06/2011

Calls have emerged for the Federal Government to buy the thousands of cattle that have been left stranded near northern ports as a result of its decision to suspend live exports to Indonesia.

It is believed that around 12,000 cattle were in, or travelling to, holding yards near the northern ports of Darwin, Port Hedland and Broome when the Federal Government announced the suspension on Tuesday night.

Under Federal legislation, exporters are not permitted to begin sourcing livestock for an export order until they have submitted, and received AQIS approval for, a Notice of Intention and Consignment Risk Management Plan (CRMP) for each planned shipment.

David Cundy of Territory Rural in Darwin said AQIS had approved the CRMPs for the thousands of cattle now stranded in northern holding yards. 

Exporters had bought the cattle in good faith, backed by the intial Government approvals, that the shipments would proceed as per normal.

Mr Cundy said one view discussed yesterday was that the Government should now buy the stranded cattle from the exporters and then enlist their help to find alternative markets into other live export destinations such as Malaysia, the Philippines or the Middle East.

“Effectively the Government has cancelled its own authority for the exporter to go ahead and purchase cattle and ship them to Indonesia,” he said.

“There is going to be a big hit and a big loss for some of the exporters and the producers here,” he said.

“The Government has created this.

“They can sell these cattle, but this is now a cost-minimisation exercise.

“The Government should take ownership of the cattle, we will sell them with the exporters’ help, and any default or deficit the Government should wear.”

Mr Cundy said people had been left shocked by the Government’s sudden decision to suspend live exports and its failure to provide a contingency plan to manage the cattle left in limbo by its decision.

“Everyone understands the reasons why, but they believe it should have been approached in a much better way.

“The Government could have at least given a warning to people not to have cattle around after a certain date, and just give everyone a chance.

“Cutting it off mid-stream like this is a knee-jerk reaction, there has not been a lot of thought put into it.

“The implications will run right through the industry on a national scale, I don’t think they really understand that.”

Commonwealth Export Control Regulations (1982) allow the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foresty to cancel an export approved program where “relevant circumstances have changed” or “where the secretary is of the opinion that the suspension or cancellation is necessary to maintain the health or welfare of the relevant livestock”.

In this event the Secretary must provide the exporter with written notice of the suspension. The regulations do not stipulate the length of notice that must be given.


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