Live Export

Federal Government won’t appeal Federal Court live export decision

Beef Central, 22/07/2020

Australian cattle in an Indonesian feedlot.


THE Federal  Government on Wednesday night announced it will not appeal the Federal Court decision declaring the 2011 live cattle export suspension to Indonesia illegal.

The full media release issued by Attorney General Christian Porter announcing the decision follows:

The Australian Government accepts the outcome from the Federal Court of Australia in Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture [2020] FCA 732, in which orders were made on 29 June 2020.

The Australian Government will not appeal this decision.

As the Prime Minister has said, live cattle exporters were dealt with egregiously by the Gillard Government. The Coalition Government will not jeopardise the outcome they have won in this case.

While the decision raises some important issues of legal principle, they are far outweighed by the very real pain and hurt that the live export ban inflicted on our cattle industry. This matter has been ongoing since 2014, and the Government is pleased that those impacted by the live cattle ban can finally have the issue brought to an end.

The Government disagrees with some of the principles as they have been applied by the court. The Court’s reasoning in this matter represents a departure from existing legal principles governing both the validity of delegated legislation and the tort of misfeasance in public office. The Government reserves its right to press its view of the relevant legal principles if an appropriate case arises in the future.

In it’s response, Cattle Council of Australia  said the Commonwealth’s decision not to appeal a Federal Court ruling was a win for common sense.

CCA chief executive Travis Tobin said by not appealing the ruling, the Government has sent a very clear message.

“This sort of thing should never happen in Australia,” Mr Tobin said.

“It is a bittersweet victory. Producers and communities should have never been put through this ordeal in the first place.

“The 2011 decision caused long-term pain for producers and their families across Northern Australia, and its impacts trickled right through our industry.

The decision not to appeal would also help build confidence with trading partners, Mr Tobin said.

“It sends a message that our Government cannot block trade without good cause. Nine years after the event we are still repairing our relationship with Indonesia.

“Australia needs to maintain its reputation as a reliable supplier of food around the world and this will make a difference,” he said.

“We haven’t had a decision on compensation yet, but it will need to consider all the consequences, including the damage it has done to our international trading relationships.”

Mr Tobin thanked the Brett family for their courage in this fight, and the ongoing efforts of Tracey Hayes, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and the National Farmers’ Federation.

“I would also like to thank our MPs and Senators from Northern Australia who have fought for the cattle industry within Government.

“The decision helps end an ugly chapter for our industry and will let us go forward with confidence.”

NFF: ‘A clear message reckless and illegal actions can never be allowed  again’

The National Farmers Federation delivered the following statement in response to the Morrison Government decision:

The Morrison Government has tonight bought to a close a dark chapter in Australia’s history with its decision not to appeal the Federal Court’s decision in the matter regarding the 2011 shut down of the live cattle export trade.

“Prime Minister Morrison called me earlier to say his Government would not stand in the way of justice being delivered to northern Australia cattle producers and communities,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

“On behalf of the Brett Family, other applicants to the class action and the many others affected by the monumentally devastating decision in 2011, I sincerely thanked him.”

“By declining to appeal Justice Rares’ decision, the Government has made unequivocal its appreciation of the pain and injustice that was inflicted on Northern Australia by the Government of the day and it’s wish to see justice done.

“It sends a clear message, that such reckless and ultimately, illegal actions by any Government, can never be allowed to happen again.

“Importantly, Prime Minister Morrison has cleared the way for the awarding of the ‘significant compensation’ to the Brett Family and other applicants, Rares J found they were entitled to.

“The class action supported by the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund spanned nine years and took a significant emotional and financial toll on all involved.

“Tonight, those who were directly and indirectly, hurt by the 2011 have been vindicated. Tonight marks a new beginning.”

It is landmark win for the AFFF, which was established in 1985, to fight cases just like this – that threaten the prosperity of agriculture and regional Australia.

“The National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund and the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, thanks the Morrison Government for its steadfast support for farmers and the communities and businesses that depend on it.

Nationals: “Common sense decision”

The Nationals Senate team has praised the Australian Government’s common sense decision not to appeal the Federal Court’s decision in Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture [2020] FCA 732.

Attorney General Christian Porter tonight (July 22) confirmed the Australian Government would not appeal this decision.

“The Nationals see the decision by Justice Rares as vindication of the argument we have put forward since 2011 on behalf of our live export industry and regional communities it supports,” Nationals Senate Leader Bridget McKenzie said.

“It was The National Party in 2011 who really fought the Labor Party’s decision which decimated this important billion-dollar industry.”

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said the former Labor government’s rash decision to ban live cattle exports caused enormous, unnecessary pain.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. People in the live cattle industry have been waiting nine long years for justice,” Senator Canavan said.

“I welcome confirmation the Liberal and Nationals Government will not jeopardise the outcome they have won in this case.”

Queensland Senator Susan McDonald said the Gillard Labor government didn’t understand regional Australia and its industries, and that lack of understanding continues today.

“It’s impossible to put into words the hardship people suffered as a result of this ill-thought-out kneejerk ban,” Senator McDonald said.

“A very reckless Labor government banned the live cattle trade overnight with no consultation and we saw family farms and regional communities severely impacted for many, many years, not just economically but socially.”

NT Senator Sam McMahon said Labor’s 2011 live export ban served as a reminder of what to expect from any Labor Government.

“The economy of the Northern Territory is deeply dependent upon the live cattle export industry and it is positive to see this Coalition government is ending this costly, drawn out saga so this industry can focus on doing what it does best – create jobs and boost the economy,” Senator McMahon said.

NSW Senator Perin Davey concurred, saying the role of government was to support industry not ban it.

“This issue has been in and out of court rooms for far too long. Those impacted by the reckless live cattle ban finally have the issue brought to an end,” Senator Davey said.

“Live Export is not just a northern industry but a national one, we must ensure its ongoing security.”


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  1. Peter Dunn, 23/07/2020

    A sensible decision by a sensible government.

  2. Dick Slaney, 23/07/2020

    Great news …
    Appropriate that you’ve used a pic of the Elders owned Lampung Feedlot (at that time). This, given that Elders Indonesia’s already existing fully integrated ( closed loop) system was critical to and mentioned several times in the final decision..

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