Drivers face the axe due to live export ban

Live export ban takes toll on trucking, with Road Trains of Australia to axe staff to mitigate the financial fallout

By Ruza Zivkusic | July 4, 2011

The live export ban to Indonesia is taking a toll on trucking, with an operator saying jobs will go as it tries to deal with the financial ramifications.

Road Trains of Australia’s manager Brooke Hartley is about to fire some of his 80 drivers because he is already feeling the pinch of the suspension of live exports.

Hartley, based in the Northern Territory, co-ordinates 70 road trains across the north and says this is the toughest time he has seen during his thirty years in the business.

"I hope the Gillard Government will reverse the decision they have made to ban live exports. Cattle export is a huge industry in the north, from Perth to Mackay. A lot of people will go broke over it and it’s not only the transport operators that will suffer but also hay producers and the station people," he says.

"Maybe the bigger companies will survive but certainly a lot of the others won’t. We hope that someone from Canberra goes to Indonesia to sort it out as this is a waiting game and is the worst period we have ever struck."

The government has banned the trade for up to six months until it is satisfied Indonesian abattoirs meet animal welfare standards.

It last week announced a $30 million assistance package to help those affected by the ban.
Hartley’s calls are being echoed by Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman.

He is urging the government to re-open the trade with Indonesia, saying those affected are missing out on a whole year’s income and the decision has "thrown the entire north cattle industry into complete disarray".

"Pastoralists don’t want a handout from the Federal Government; they want the trade resumed and their lives to go back to normal," Redman says.

Businesses impacted by the suspension can now receive up to $25,000 in assistance but Redman says the money on offer will not go far.

"There are about 150,000 head of cattle in Western Australia with nowhere to go. "$250,000 is enough to feed about 3,000 cows in a feedlot for just one day," he says.

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