Northern Territory minister for primary industries Willem Westra van Holthe has voiced the NT Government's support for AACo's plans to build an abattoir near Darwin.
Mr Westra van Holthe said in a press release on Sunday that he and chief minister Terry Mills have met with representatives from AACo to discuss the proposal.
“The abattoir will be a great asset for the Northern Territory and will complement the live export industry,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.
“These meetings lay the foundation for strong business partnerships.
“The live export ban burnt a hole in the fabric of our relationship with Indonesia. Through a desire to achieve common goals I am confident we can patch that up.
“Cattle producers in the bush are still struggling.
“If we can get the Indonesian trade going again, it will have flow on effects to families out on the land.
“There are some members of the broader community who disagree with the live export trade on the basis of animal welfare issues; our Government is committed to ensuring best practice and improving the trade.”
However, despite the expression of support, the project is yet to receive any meaningful financial backing from either the NT Government or the Federal Government.
In the meantime AA Co is progressing with plans to shore up private investment in the $80 million plus project. As reported on Beef Central on September 20, AA Co chief executive officer David Farley recently told an RBS Morgans business breakfast in Brisbane that the company has recently been approached by a number of substantial offshore interests based in China, Malaysia and Indonesia expressing interest in joining the Darwin abattoir project as capital investors.
Mr Westra van Holthe says that while a northern abattoir will benefit the northern cattle industry, it can not replace the strong market that exists for live cattle exports to Indonesia, and he has criticised the Greens for reintroducing draft legislation pushing for a ban on all live animal exports.
“The prohibition of live Australian animals sent overseas will do nothing to improve what happens in foreign slaughterhouses,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.
“The greens have never understood agriculture and this bill proves it.
“These people have declared war on an industry they don’t understand – the live animal export industry is very different to the latté sipping industry.
“I will continue to voice my support for the live export trade. The Territory’s cattle producers supply good stock to Indonesia, we are improving slaughter standards and many Territorians rely on this industry for their livelihood.
“We want to abolish animal cruelty not the trade.”
Meanwhile Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has indicated he would discuss imports of Australian beef with Indonesia during his extended visit to the country following last week's 10th anniversary commemorations of the Bali bombings.
Mr Abbott said that Indonesia's expanding middle class would inevitably need more beef, and there was scope for mutually beneficial cooperation in the beef trade for both countries.
"Now, I think that it's possible for them to be more self-sufficient and at the same time for Australia to have growing export markets in beef here as well. So, that's what I hope to explore and discuss over the next couple of days," he told journalists in Jakarta on the weekend.