Live Export

Live exporters welcome Abbott visit

James Nason, 17/10/2012

Australian livestock exporters have welcomed a strong show of interest in the trade by Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbot and senior shadow ministers during a visit to Indonesia earlier this week.

Mr Abbott and shadow ministers Julie Bishop and John Cobb spent about 10 hours meeting with senior cattle industry representatives and inspecting Indonesian cattle supply chains.

They visited feedlots, many with empty pens that 18 months ago were filled with Australian cattle, witnessed cattle being Australian processed in an abattoir and toured Indonesian communities which rely upon local feedlots and imported Australian cattle for employment.

“I would have to say it was a pleasure to have federal representatives, whatever the party, spending some serious effort in getting to understand the work put in up here,” one industry source told Beef Central.

“The Indonesians have done a fantastic job in doing everything that was asked of them and to date their only reward has been more bureaucracy.

“I think they went away with an understanding of all the issues, especially the fact that the relationship with Indonesia has been scarred, and that Australia needs to go the extra yard to get the relationship back on track.”

Another industry stakeholder said he was grateful for the level of access provided to the senior coalition ministers and for the significant demonstration of their interest and commitment to understanding the live export trade.

“They showed a genuine interest to not just talk about, but practically see and experience what is happening on the ground in Indonesia,” he said.

Upon his return this week shadow minister for agriculture John Cobb said Australia’s active involvement in the live export market was clearly "a force for good" in international animal welfare. 

“Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop were very impressed by the quality of the facilities and the professionalism of the people involved,” Mr Cobb said.

In a media release issued yesterday, Mr Cobb said he was proud to be able to show how much effort the industry had invested in the past 12 months to comply with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System. 

“Feedlots are building what amounts to community abattoirs with stunning equipment on site.

“This allows local butchers to come to the feedlot and buy a couple of prime animals and then process them on-site in modern facilities so animal welfare can be maintained at the highest standard.

“This is step change for Indonesia and is helping to improve animal welfare standards.

“What’s more the local butchers really appreciate it, as the facilities with stunning make the animals easier to handle, the quality of the meat is better and animal welfare can be handled appropriately.

“This is a win – win for all those concerned. Importantly, none of it would have happened without the continued Australian involvement in the live export market.

“Indonesia remains Australia’s largest market for live cattle, accounting for 60pc of our live cattle exports in 2011 – that’s a drop from over 80pc of all cattle exports in 2009 in the wake of Labor’s botched handling of relationships and the knee-jerk ban last year.

“Today, approximately 80pc of approved facilities in Indonesia use stunning off, way up from a low base of approximately 15pc at the time of the trade suspension. So progress is real and rapid.

“Australia’s leading role in international animal welfare and our investment and involvement in the live export market is critical in lifting animal welfare standards around the world.

“There is no doubt the Coalition delegation, which won rare high level access to Indonesian heavyweights, was well received and has started the bridge-building following last year’s Labor-induced diplomatic and trade disasters.

“Many Australians were so embarrassed by the actions of the Gillard Government in unilaterally banning live exports, without speaking to Indonesia. The Indonesians have made it clear they wanted to work with us to solve the problem and get trade back up and running at full steam.

“The extraordinary step of sending a delegation of four senior Shadow Ministers to Indonesia demonstrates the  importance we place on their country as a valued trading partner and that we will work closely with them to maximise the economic opportunities between our two countries.

"That message was welcomed by Indonesia.”


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