Live Export

Northern cattle industry gets its day in court

Beef Central, 03/12/2018

The NT Cattlemen’s Association former chief executive officer and facilitator of the class action stemming from the 2011 live export ban, Tracey Hayes, will be in Sydney this week as those affected by the ban will get their day in court.

NTCA executive director Tracey Hayes addresses a function at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Lead applicants Emily and Colin Brett from the Brett Cattle Company will be giving evidence in the Federal Court matter of Brett Cattle Company v the Commonwealth.

Over the next three weeks the court will hear evidence given by key witnesses including a former Elders Indonesia employee, an Indonesian based Australian feedlot operator and an Indonesian businessman who has invested with Australian interests in Indonesia.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, the Federal Court will hear of the loss suffered by cattle producers across North Australia as a result of the Government’s decision to ban live exports of Cattle to Indonesia in June 2011,” Ms Hayes said.

“It was not just the farmers that endured losses – it was contractors, employees and local communities that were devastated by the Government’s ban.”

“We will lead evidence showing that the Australian Government’s decision to suspend the cattle trade caused the Indonesian Government to reduce the number of cattle that they would import from Australia.”

“Considered in its totality, the ban had a significant impact on both the cattle industry and the lead applicant in this case.”

Ms Hayes said over the past four and a half years, Australian farmers have engaged in these proceedings to seek compensation from the Commonwealth.

She said the litigation had been undertaken as a last resort.

“It is unfortunate that the Australian Government has been so combative in the course of these proceedings,” she said.

“One would hope other industries, businesses and families will never have to face such Government action.

“I hope that the next few weeks will be a catharsis for an industry that has weathered significant challenges in the past decade.”

NTCA chief executive officer Ashley Manicaros said the current debate regarding live export is a timely reminder that Government must not operate in a knee jerk fashion and must carefully consider the consequences and impacts of their decisions.

“Australian farmers and live exporters are exporting best practice animal welfare into the markets we do business with and it is an important industry underpinning the viability of Northern Australia,” he said.


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  1. John Gunthorpe, 03/12/2018

    Best wishes to all those involved in this matter. When the lives of innocent parties are damaged through the careless actions of bureaucrats acting out of best intent to satisfy their political masters, then financial compensation through the courts is the least desirable course of action. Politicians and bureaucrats need to understand the stress to individuals and communities resulting from their actions. We will observe with interest the matters debated in the hearing over the next few weeks. Similar damage was inflicted on 258 cattle producers in Queensland when poorly advised “industry representatives” recommended to the Newman Government to eradicate Johne’s Disease by issuing quarantine notices to those producers identified through NLIS documents by the CVO as having received bulls from the index herds. They went back as far as 2005 in fingering those to be quarantined. When in quarantine, costs keep going but sales stop. Most suffered in silence to avoid the stigma of being known as BJD effected properties. Families were placed under stress and some lost their farms to the banks. Their courage stood out but they were never compensated even though it was promised by the then deputy Premier at the time of launching the eradication programme. We wish Tracy and her team every success in their action. However, as with the BJD fiasco, community acknowledgement of the damage caused and an understanding of the individual and communal suffering will go a long way to mending the still painful wounds delivered when an elected member of the federal house got to his feet to announce the cessation of live exports.
    Australian Cattle Industry Council

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