The National Farmers’ Federation has this morning welcomed news that proceedings were filed in the Federal Court late yesterday afternoon seeking compensation for northern cattle industry businesses affected by the former Government’s decision to suspend the live export trade to Indonesia in June 2011.
The NFF said the northern cattle industry was a vital part of Australian agriculture, representing 50pc of Northern Territory primary production as well as being a major indigenous employer.
“The decision to suspend live exports was without precedent, and devastating for cattle producers in Northern Australia,” NFF President Brent Finlay said.
“More than anything else, Australian agriculture needs certainty so that we can invest in our businesses and our futures.
“The ban in 2011 left Australia’s domestic reputation in tatters, not to mention the massive financial losses for individual cattle producers, many of whom either left the industry altogether or are still trying to repair the damage done.
“Paddocks across northern Australia were overstocked. Cattle had to be trucked thousands of kilometres between properties, put on agistment or sold below cost to make ends meet.” “
As recently as last week, politicians on both sides of the spectrum acknowledged the regrettable nature of the decision by the former Government.
And yet not a single step has been taken, either by this Government or the last, to remedy its effects on industry, Mr Finlay said.
“Our member, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, has tried to resolve this amicably. The last thing industry needs is a costly and hard fought legal case. Unfortunately, they have hit a brick wall time and time again.
“Thanks to the support of the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund, our members can now demand compensation for what was a completely capricious act.
“The NFF urges the government to come to the table and restore the northern Australian cattle industry to the position it was in before the ban. This can never happen again,” Mr Finlay said.
AgForce supports action
AgGForce Queensland has thrown its support behind cattle producers seeking compensation for losses incurred by the former Labor Government’s live export suspension.
The class action, involving impacted primary producers from across Northern Australia, comes as financial strain from the suspension more than three years ago continues to place pressure on the profitability of rural businesses, it said.
AgForce chief executive officer, Charles Burke, said the live export industry was an important component of primary production in the north which had suffered severely at the hands of a reckless Government decision.
“When footage of poor animal welfare practices was aired in 2011 our industry had no argument in trade to those specific processors being suspended,” Mr Burke said.
“However, when this became a blanket ban across entire the live export sector, there is no doubt this was a knee jerk and baseless reaction that had not been well considered and showed little regard for the impacts it would have on businesses and families.
“The ban may have lasted only a month but the ensuing damage to the industry was wide-reaching and continues today.
“This legal action will provide an opportunity for producers to seek compensation for the financial and personal duress they have been placed under by this poor decision.”
Mr Burke said AgForce supported its members’ right to pursue legal action and was positioned to provide information to producers who felt they had grounds to be part of the claim.
“There are many companies and families which deserve to be compensated for their considerable losses and we expect a number including cattle producers as well as associated and support businesses will step forward,” he said.
“Live export is an important part of the future of the northern pastoral sector and it is critical Governments understand the industry and its contribution to communities, families and the economy.”
Source: NFF, AgForce.