A group of North Queensland graziers behind the recent Beef Crisis Summit in Richmond will visit Canberra next week to appeal directly to the Indonesian ambassador for live cattle import quotas to be increased.
Federal MP for the North West Queensland seat of Kennedy Bob Katter discussed import quotas with the ambassador in Canberra last week and will escort the group in their meeting next week.
Mr Katter said a series of small but significant steps were fuelling hope that the northern cattle crisis and wider rural debt issue could be addressed.
“After we first brought to the nation’s attention the looming rural debt catastrophe in late 2011, when hundreds of North Qld graziers rallied to try and rescue a station at risk over questionable lending practices, we secured the Rural
Debt Round Table in 2012 to give the Federal Treasurer first-hand accounts of the coalface issues and solutions,” Mr Katter said.
“A year of relentless lobbying then led to the Treasurer’s announcement this year of the $420m Farm Finance Package including concessional-rate loans (and we remain optimistic that the State Government will dig into their pockets to contribute to this initiative), as well as another $100m in the Federal Budget of further assistance for drought-affected farmers.
“We have also brought the Qld Government onside with our Cattle Crisis Summit resolution to allow drought-stricken cattle access to grazing in former cattle stations-cum-conservation estates – and we’re again optimistic this will be expedited.
“But much, much more still needs to be done. We’ve got only 10 per cent of what we need to see this industry thrive again. We need State and Territory governments to match the commitments of their Federal counterpart; and we need to address long-term fundamentals – which include bringing down the value of the Australian dollar.
“We also need Australian politicians to vote for legislation we have begun drafting to establish an ‘Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank’ that can reconstruct debilitating financial arrangements in agriculture and provide low-interest, long term funds for the further development of our agricultural industries and infrastructures.
“A fair go is all we are asking for – it’s not too much to ask. And I must thank the myriad men and women who have rallied across Australia in recent months to ensure this issue of national concern is being heard in our capital cities and in Canberra.”