Live Export

Live export: industry and political reaction

Beef Central, 19/12/2011

When Beef Central broke the news of heavy cutbacks to Indonesian cattle import quotas last Thursday, a tide of reaction quickly swept through the Australian cattle industry.

Here are some of statements released by industry bodies and rural politicians in response to the dramatic quota reductions.

AgForce issued the following statements in a media release: “AgForce Cattle president Grant Maudsley said the Indonesian decision will shake the confidence of Queensland graziers still hurting from last year’s federal government imposed ban on live cattle due to animal welfare concerns.

“Queensland normally supplies 20% of live cattle exports to Indonesia, or approximately 100 000 head, but these cuts could mean we ship just 50-60 000 head, representing a 40pc cut in numbers,” Mr Maudsley said.

Despite the cuts Mr Maudsley said the industry remains quietly confident that import permits will be reviewed as the year progresses and more Australian cattle may be allowed into that country.

“The Indonesian import permit system is now administered by their Ministry of Trade not the Ministry of Agriculture and there are review mechanisms built into that system that allow constant revisions based on the domestic price of beef.

“If for example the domestic price of beef in Indonesia rises sharply there is the capacity for their Trade ministry to adjust import permits to allow more cattle and beef to enter their market from countries like Australia.”

“Indonesia has cut permits before and has every right to do so, but experience has shown there is potential for these decisions to be reviewed as a clearer picture of domestic beef demand builds.”

However if permits aren’t increased throughout the remainder of 2012 Mr Maudsley said more North Australian cattle may have to be absorbed onto Australia’s domestic market.
“If Indonesia follows through with these quota levels cattle producers will need sell more of their livestock through saleyards and to abattoirs. “At least this time producers have time to review their cattle marketing plans for 2012 unlike the overnight ban situation they faced this year,” Mr Maudsley said.

AgForce urges the Australian government to maintain clear communication with Indonesia on this issue to protect the interests of Australian cattle producers and the communities that rely on the $1 billion live export trade.

Nationals leader Warren Truss: “Given Julia Gillard’s botched handling of live beef exports to Indonesia and Labor’s ongoing risk to supply, the Indonesian government has retaliated by accelerating moves towards self-sufficiency and phasing out Australian supply entirely within a couple of years. This is the ongoing fallout from Labor’s original mess. Cattle producers across northern Australia will be gutted by this news. They, along with numerous small businesses that rely on the trade, have just endured a disaster at the hands of an inept government’s over-reaction. It means the uncertainty businesses, families and entire communities have been suffering through will now continue until the live beef trade to Indonesia simply dries up. It’s a $320M a year hit to the Australian economy, but now pushes an entire industry to the brink of collapse.

“The recent ALP Conference vote (215 to 173) narrowly saw a temporary reprieve for the live trade, but showed that the dogmatic determination of those within Labor’s ranks to kill this important industry is alive and well. The Indonesians have just beaten Labor to the punch.”

Katter’s Australian Party leader Bob Katter: “The announcement that Indonesia will reduce its live cattle intake from Australia is a shattering blow – but it may not be quite as bad as it would appear.

“Anyone who thought that a reduction in live cattle going to Indonesia would not put downward pressure on the price to beef in Australia “would believe that Mao Tse Tung is Santa Claus”.”

Mr Katter said that he’d always believed that the ongoing damage to our relationship with Indonesia – though the extraordinary incompetence and irresponsibility of the MLA, the LNP government and the current government – would be serious.

He has already held meetings “and built what we hope are cordial relations” with the Indonesian Ambassador, who had his photograph taken wearing Mr Katter’s Akubra hat; and would seek direct discussions with the Ambassador as soon as was convenient for the Ambassador.

Mr Katter urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to point out that ox was a very important adjunct to the Indonesian diet, but not essential to their self-sufficiency in food.

“We will be attempting to point out to the Indonesians that having a cow and calf to raise to produce beef is highly inefficient,” he said. “Whilst they can process the beef and grow it out at one-quarter the price in Australia, we can produce cow and calf beef at one-tenth of the price they could.”

Mr Katter said the towering irresponsibility and incompetence of Canberra could be fully illustrated in the live export ban incident, which had clearly done long-term serious damage.

“The hand-wringing, crying greenie classes of Australia have shown arrogance and contempt for the religious beliefs of these people and treated them as moral deviants – which can’t help but have racial overtones, and I believe it has.

“Most of these people who are crying and hand-wringing don’t even have pets.”
Mr Katter said he didn’t want anyone to assume that this battle was lost.

“Our situation is difficult, and the outcome for cattlemen, of whom probably half are on struggle street, is deeply worrying and fills any decent Australian with a sense of rage.”


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