Live Export

Job loss warnings for live export hearing

James Nason, 01/09/2011

WA agriculture and food minister Terry RedmanLive export industry leaders and supporters will move to counter claims that the trade is costing jobs in Australia when a Senate Inquiry conducts a public hearing in Broome today.

Animal rights and meat processing industry groups have argued that thousands of Australian jobs would be generated if all livestock produced in Australia were processed in Australian abattoirs.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals told the Senate inquiry hearing in Canberra on August 10 that an ACIL Tasman review had concluded that 2000 jobs would be created in WA alone if live sheep exports were phased out.

“Ending live exports would mean an investment in local jobs,” WSPA campaign officer Jodie Jankevics told the senate committee. “Live exports severely affect jobs in Australia, 1050 meat workers alone lost their jobs in 2010.”

Lee Norris, an industrial officer with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, told the same hearing that the Heilbron report, an independent report funded by the processing sector, had found that lost opportunities to process cattle within Australia cost the nation 10,500 jobs.

Live export industry speakers who will address the Senate Committee today are expected to focus how many existing jobs would be lost if the trade is shut down, and the economic cost that would have to Australia.

Among them will be Western Australia’s agriculture and food minister Terry Redman.

In direct contrast to the ACIL Tasman figures quoted by the WSPA, Mr Redman will tell today’s inquiry that a permanent ban on the trade would result in the loss of more than 2000 WA jobs.

Mr Redman said the trade was worth up to $600 million annually to the WA economy.

“WA dominates the Australian livestock export industry for sheep and is a major player in beef cattle,” he said. 

“This is not accidental.  Our geographic proximity to major markets coupled with freight advantage, ideal growing conditions for northern cattle, and our long history in sheep exports is key.”

He said the WA Government did not tolerate animal cruelty, but also had no tolerance for “rushed, ad-hoc and lazy Government decisions that throw industries, jobs and livelihoods on the scrapheap”.

Speakers at today’s hearing will include Steve Meerwald, managing director of Australia’s largest live exporting company Wellard Rural Exports, producers from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, representatives of rural transport and helicopter mustering companies and north western Australian local government officials.

The Senate Committee will also conduct a public hearing in Katherine tomorrow, which will be addressed by producers and businesses reliant upon the live export trade.



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