Live Export

Veteran live exporter’s high hopes for Rudd’s Jakarta trip

James Nason, 06/07/2011

South East Asian Live Exports principal, Sid ParkerVeteran live exporter Sid Parker has high hopes that Australia’s foreign minister Kevin Rudd can work some diplomatic magic when he meets with Indonesian Government officials in Jakarta this week.

Mr Parker’s company South East Asian Livestock Services (SEALS) was among the hardest hit by the Federal Government’s snap decision to suspend live exports to Indonesia on June 7.

SEALS had 4000 cattle ready to load in Darwin when the suspension took effect. The company’s vessel sat in Darwin harbour from June 6 to July 1, accumulating demurrage fees at about $7500 a day, or $180,000 for the period.

Some companies with larger boats have faced demurrage costs of $30,000 a day, he said.

The company has since been able to sell 1100 of its stranded cattle to the Philippines which it shipped last Friday, “at a very much reduced price”. 

The cattle were bought at Indonesian market rates and sold to the Philippines for at least 30c/kg under that price, he said.

Mr Parker said he hoped Mr Rudd could secure a fix on Friday.

“It won’t be resolved until somebody with a bit of charisma and know-how goes up there and talks to the Indonesian Government,” he said.

“They’re not going to start it up again until they come to some agreement with the Australian Government.”

Mr Parker said his company would consider taking legal action against the Government to recoup what it had lost as a result of the suspension.

He said confusion surrounded who could access the $5m animal welfare compensation fund established by industry at agrriculture minister Joe Ludwig's request, and said the money would not go anywhere near covering the costs that had been caused to industry by the ban.

“We had the AQIS permission to go, everything was all go and then it all stopped," Mr Parker said.

“Before you can assemble cattle you have to put in a notice of intention, and they give you permission to then get the cattle and treat them and get them ready to go on the ship.

“Once you have got that clearance , the only reason you get stopped then is if there are any diseased animals or issues like that. Once you do the treatment, they are ready to go on the ship, which all of our cattle were.”

Staff from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Meat and Livestock Australia are currently in Indonesia trying to work through a 50-page document containing conditions the Australian Government wants Indonesia to meet before it will allow exports to resume.

A live export industry source told Beef Central the conditions were bureacratically onerous and were causing confusion in the market. Minister Ludwig has been heavily criticised for originally presenting the conditions in English and not translated into Indonesian.

Mr Rudd's visit to Jakarta is seen as a key to increasing engagement with the Indonesian Government and achieving a resolution. 


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