AMIEU condemn Barnaby’s ‘support for live export expansion’

Beef Central, 27/05/2016

MEATWORKERS have condemned comments attributed to agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce suggesting he plans to do ‘everything in his power’ to expand live cattle export opportunities out of Australia.

Minister Joyce was caught in a media storm earlier this week when he drew connections between the 2011 Indonesian live export market closure, and a rise in asylum seekers from Indonesia.

He drew fire from the Australian Meat Industry on Friday after the Inverell Times last week reported him as saying he would “do everything in his power to build on the seven major, and two minor new live animal export markets that we have opened since September 2013, including opening more markets and strengthening the sustainability of the industry.”

The AMIEU said almost 600 local meatworkers from Townsville’s JBS meat processing plant had called on North Queensland MP Ewen Jones, the member for Herbert, and minister Joyce to secure local jobs for the sector, following his plans to expand live exports.

The AMIEU said the actions would further put local supply at risk.

“Plans to expand live exports will jeopardise North Queensland’s last major meat processing plant and the broader Townsville economy,” AMIEU spokesman Matt Journeaux said.

“Today we have written to Mr Joyce on behalf of our members and their families, calling on him to support local jobs and explain why he plans to expand live exports at the expense of the Townsville meat processing industry,” Mr Journeaux said.

The Minister’s announcement came less than two months after the plant endured an extended 16-week shutdown as a result of supply issues, during which staff were forced to take unpaid leave.

“With more than 600 local jobs on the line, Mr Jones has turned his back on Townsville in a clear case of conflict of interest. Voters have every right to question where their local member’s loyalties truly lie. Is the Member for Herbert committed to strengthening his electorate or has he fallen to the narrow interests of an industry that contributes nothing to the community he is supposed to represent?” the AMIEU spokesman said.

“The national cattle herd sits at its lowest point in 23 years and is expected to keep falling. Meanwhile, the volume of live exports has steadily increased, placing additional downward pressure on the number of cattle available to the Australian beef processing sector.”

Big impact on regional economy

Mr Journeaux said the people of Townsville were worried about the future of the local meat processing industry and the effects further shutdowns will have on local jobs and the broader community.

“At full capacity the JBS facility directly employs 580 workers and processes 216,000 head of cattle per year. It injects $25 million in wages into the local economy, which in turn creates another 2300 jobs. Every dollar generated by the local meat processing industry flows through our economy resulting in $400 million of direct economic benefits to the region,” he said.

“The Turnbull Government’s crusade for unrestricted live export growth means our abattoirs are getting a smaller slice of a shrinking meat pie. For every additional head of cattle loaded onto ships bound for foreign markets in Asia or the Middle East, more local jobs are lost.”

“Live exports have a direct impact on job losses in the supply chain, not to mention the flow-on effects for the region’s small businesses and local economies.”

Similar sentiments have been expressed in the NSW New England district, where Bindaree Beef operates a large export beef plant at Inverell.

The Inverell Times last week reported that the Greens candidate for New England in the upcoming Federal election, Mercurius Goldstein, had said that the ‘number one thing’ the people wanted to talk to him about was supporting the livestock industry, by bringing the cattle down from the north and processing them in the New England.

“What we know is that for every 400,000 head of cattle we can bring down from the north, it’s $200 million into this regional economy. A beast that is processed here in Australia is also worth 20 percent more to the Australian economy than one shipped off-shore,” Mr Goldstein told the Times.

He said such a move would “keep Bindaree Beef strong, re-open the Gunnedah meat plant, get the Armidale meatworks up and running and get Coonabarabran back on its feet.”

“I put this to a roomful of truck drivers in Tamworth at the Road Transporter’s Forum, and they much preferred the domestic processing option over live exports,” Mr Goldstein said.

“Will Barnaby Joyce, and Tony Windsor for that matter, commit to ending the live export trade?”

Minister Joyce, the sitting member for New England, left little doubt about his stance on the issue, the Times reported.

“Not only will I not be committing to this demand from Mr Goldstein, I will do everything in my power to build on the seven major, and two minor new live animal export markets that we have opened since September 2013, including opening more markets and strengthening the sustainability of the industry,” Mr Joyce said.

“Our live export sector is a small, but fundamental component of Australia’s red meat sector, as evidenced by the damage done to the whole industry when the Labor/Greens/Independent alliance conspired to ban the trade in 2011,” he said.




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  1. Dick Morgan, 31/05/2016

    The live cattle trade will continue, for no other reason, than the need to supply to the so-called ‘wet markets’. Some consumers in some markets do not own a domestic refrigerator. They must buy their meat daily from their local wet market supplier.

    And of course their are also religious reasons. In some markets with a large muslin population very strict halal slaughter rituals and requirements apply. Some buyers will insist on local domestic halal slaughter.

    Maybe it is these markets that we should be concentrating on for our live animal export trade.

  2. Michael Vail, 31/05/2016

    Let us face some salient facts.

    The opportunities for selling cattle into our domestic market for our Northern producer cousins, is limited; as by the time the bill arrives for transport and Droving costs, there is little left; as it is the Farm Gate Price that is important!

    Secondly, the description of cattle being bred in the North, albeit there are changes afoot, gets discounted when it comes South into the domestic supply-chain. More distance travelled, more travel tetany and likelihood of bruising and dark meat.

    Thirdly, cattle going to export, whether dead or alive, takes them out of the domestic supply-chain, and ensures the Southern producers and right down the supply-chain, through Abattoirs and Butchers that higher prices for beef is a good thing, and

    Fourthly, this ensures producers, meat works, and Butchers remain profitable, so that meat workers may remain in employment, and for a decent wage.

    There is no inflation presently, wages are not rising, and therefore processing costs are relatively static.

    The more irons, read demand paths, available to producers to sell meat (whether on or off shore), and at a fair price and remain profitable, the better.

    Everyone WINS!

    Meat workers generally should be more worried about Brazil’s ability to take market share from Australia’s boxed, frozen, and chilled beef markets for a lower price.

    That may put everyone out of work; and I keep feeling deja vu Re 1970’s; oil problems, double-dissolution and all.

    What may happen to world cattle prices then; especially after USA rebuilds its herd from historical lows?

    Happy Days!

  3. Trish Brown, 30/05/2016

    To reply to some of your comments Mr. Vail…Yes, I have been on a live export ship and I am against the whole trade that IS taking jobs away from abattoirs right across Australia……My experience is documented on a website.

    I have also been to the biggest HALAL abattoir in WA and witnessed the HUMANE slaughtering process as well as viewing the boning and packaging areas of this particular and well known abattoir….This was also documented by me on the above website.

  4. steve rouhan, 30/05/2016

    Was it not the MLA who failed to act when evidence was presented regarding animal cruelty in various live export markets, and do you think the current animal welfare standards would exist today if the government of the time had’nt taken the action it took. I think not. Nz banned live exports many years ago, and there producers survived. Perhaps the live industry should be restricted to animals of a certain weight or age, then perhaps everyone can survive and we won’ t export live our valuable breeding stock.

  5. Richard Morgan, 30/05/2016

    Well said Michael vail! To re iterate his comments. As someone that at present is involved and employed in live export I am going to comment.also previously being employed in the frozen mutton/lamb industries in another country where I witnessed income and jobs lost to the dairy sector in a short time period! There needs to be so much more education promoted towards certain demographics. The time,money,and resources put towards livestock pre and post export is huge with trucking and shipping one of upmost importance to the point the livestock in our care get better care,attention,and husbandry than some refugees, and asylum seekers in various parts of the world!! When the right people with access to substantial capital get together and start building infrastructure. Ie once thought of as marginal land. There will be enough for everybody! But this all takes time…..

  6. Michael Vail, 30/05/2016

    To quote Christine Keeler, “They would say that, wouldn’t they!”

    In reality, there is plenty to go around for all, and the question I ask the detractors of the Live Trade is this, “Have you been on a ship, that has a Live-Ex cargo, and seen the care these animals are given, and at great expense?”

    To be able to comment, go on a ship, or speak to those that do Ship Droving for a living. I am sure it is not as bad as you have been led to believe.

    Also, there is a lobby focusing on Animal Rights agendas, using emotive media to give a false impression; and the Lemmings in the cities who do not quite understand, swallow the bait every time. Old saying, “One or two Swallows, does not a summer make.”

    Likewise, two bad eggs does not condemn and industry; or at least it should not have. Forget the emotive argument; and stick to the facts.

    Maybe paying tours could be organised, like Beef Central is doing to China, but destination Indonesia and Philippines, to look at the wonderful job being done by Australian expatriates and local players to get the job done in the red meat supply chain to the wet-markets, using humane animal husbandry techniques all the way through.

    Ask the naysayers to leave the emotion out of the argument, and discuss the topic rationally using facts. Then they may be worth listening too …

  7. Natasha Woolaston, 30/05/2016

    Mr Goldstein’s comments to the times highlight his limited involvement in the New England agricultural industry if he thinks a supply of cattle will ‘magically’ reopen Gunnedah’s processing plant, asbestos and all!

    There is already a number of livestock from the New England area that are slaughtered in other electorates (including the North). An influx of cattle could potentially lead to the same devastating effects that the live export ban had on this area, many producers are still trying to make up from financial loss.

    I would like to know Mr Goldstein’s plans for how the stock are going to get to the New England area because we don’t have rail facilities and our roads are not currently in a state to handle even more trucks!

  8. Alison Penfold, 30/05/2016

    Successive Governments have worked to improve market access for the red meat sector. Mr Joyce and the Coalition Government have negotiated new agreements with Japan, China and Korea which have substantially reduced the tariffs faced by the boxed beef sector. This work has real benefits for meat processors across Australia and including in Mr Joyce’s electorate.

    The debate about the live trade is not an either or proposition. Australia is the only country in the world that can supply meat products to meet just about any consumer requirement because we trade in both livestock and boxed beef. It is also Australia’s live export presence that has helped improve the treatment and slaughter of exported and local animals through the training of over 9000 people in proper handling and slaughter practices, provided millions of dollars in new infrastructure including hundreds of stunners and even helped improve worker safety. As one of Australia’s top 10 agriculture exports, the live trade makes a contribution to growing Australia’s red meat sector which is vital to the viability and profitability of producers, exporters, transport operators and the thousands of other people involved with livestock productions and export in this country. That matters.

  9. Jenny Brown, 29/05/2016

    Doesn’t Barnaby Joyce know or care that the boxed meat trade is a much bigger income earner for our economy, provides much needed jobs here rather than offshore and helps ensure better animal welfare standards.

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