Live export ban hits transporters

Advisory firm wants livestock transporters compensated for the Federal Government’s decision to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia

Live export ban hits transporters
Live export ban hits transporters
By Brad Gardner | June 17, 2011

The Federal Government is being asked to shield livestock transporters from the fallout of the live export ban to Indonesia, while the Greens are pushing to end the trade permanently.

Business advisory firm Vantage Performance has warned that transporters reliant on the live export trade face financial hardship unless government steps in to help.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig recently announced a six-month ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia in the wake of damning footage aired on ABC’s Four Corners that revealed animal cruelty inside some of the country’s slaughterhouses.

"Potentially, thousands of companies will get caught up in the supply chain fallout from the live export ban – long haul road train businesses in particular will be really hurting," Vantage Performance Managing Director Michael Fingland says.

"I’d encourage the government to consider what grants could be made available to help transport operators work out the best strategies to save their businesses."

Fingland says transport operators have been "innocent bystanders" and have lost a major customer for six months due to the ban.

His comments came as the Greens introduced the Live Animal Export (Slaughter) Prohibition Bill in both houses of parliament this week.

"This bill will put an immediate end to the horrific treatment of Australian cattle in overseas abattoirs," the Greens’ animal welfare spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert says.

"Processing animals in Australia protects them from inhumane treatment and ensures our laws and standards regarding animal welfare can be upheld."

The Greens want a permanent ban imposed immediately, with Siewert saying examples of cruelty against Australian livestock in Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan prove Australia cannot guarantee animals will be treated humanely regardless of where they are sent.

She says less than 10 percent of cattle in Indonesia are stunned before being slaughtered, meaning most are fully conscious when their throats are cut.

Siewert says Australia should focus on its meat export trade to create local jobs and support communities instead of maintaining a trade that exposes animals to cruelty.

Liberal MP Sharman Stone has dismissed calls for a ban, saying many Indonesians do not have access to refrigeration.

"Calls to only export chilled or frozen meat out of Australia are simply not realistic," she says.

The Coalition proposed resuming trade under a register that excludes abattoirs that fail to treat cattle humanely.

"Such places should never have access to Australian livestock again unless they change their ways," Stone says.

She wants an independent watchdog to monitor cattle movements to ensure they only go to approved slaughterhouses.

Nationals MP Tony Crook, who took the West Australian seat of O’Connor in last year’s federal election, says the government’s blanket ban is a "knee-jerk reaction" which has left pastoralists with thousands of cattle they cannot sell.

"If animal welfare standards can be guaranteed – and the certainly can be in many abattoirs throughout Indonesia – then live exports should immediately be resumed to those approved abattoirs," he says.

"It is vital that we re-establish the live export trade effective immediately."

However, the Senate this week voted down the proposal to restart trade with Indonesia using a register.

Ludwig told parliament he wrote to Meat Livestock Australia in January this year asking it to view footage of animal cruelty shown to him by Animals Australia in November 2010.

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