Export ban goes but uncertainty remains


The live export ban has been lifted but the transport industry is bracing for uncertain times ahead

By Ruza Zivkusic | July 7, 2011

The live export ban has been lifted but the transport industry has been rocked by uncertain times ahead.

Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) Executive Director Philip Halton has welcomed Canberra’s decision to remove the ban but says many companies, especially in the Northern Territory, now face a poor season ahead.

He is calling on the Federal Government to meet with banks and offer financial relief to those businesses directly affected.

"The trade that does resume will be at a reduced rate to what was going to be this year," Halton says.

"I know our northern members will still be in some difficulty and it may be less physical work to divide amongst the operators; it may be less paid work depending what situation the customers find themselves in.

"They are going to have a difficult year and that’s why we have been pressing the government to have a discussion with the banks.

"There will be most certainly a significantly reduced export task this year and there are some estimates flowing around the industry that there might only be perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the normal season."

Some transport companies have started firing their staff due to the reduced work, Halton adds.

Road Trains of Australia drivers can now breathe a sigh of relief as their jobs are safe following the lift on the ban.
The Darwin-based company has 80 drivers who transport 200,000 cattle each year and was hit hard by the Federal Government’s ban, manager Brooke Hartley says.

He was only weeks away from shedding his staff.

"It is certainly a step in the right direction but I still think it’s going to restrict our business because of the flow of the cattle as it won’t be as it was," Hartley says.

"Numbers are going to drop for sure if they don’t get the regulations sorted out."

The Western Australian Government has extended special livestock transport permit arrangements to assist the pastoral industry in dealing with the changes.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell says the permit will last until August 31.

"The Federal Government decision to impose a ban on the export of live cattle to Indonesia has had a devastating impact on one of our major export industries and created real hardship for pastoralists," Buswell says.

About 4,000 cattle assembled for export have been stranded at yards in Broome and Port Hedland.

"By allowing triple road trains to operate, pastoralists can move a greater number of animals to southern destinations more rapidly and at a reduced cost."

The permits, issued by Main Roads WA, enables livestock to be transported in 53.5-metre long road trains on certain routes.

Strict operating conditions are in place where drivers need to comply with curfews and speed limit reductions and use flashing lights to ensure safety of other road users.

Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman has welcomed the end of the ban but believes the impact of the suspension will be "ongoing and (will) remain serious".

"Bridges will still need to be built with Indonesia where there has been significant diplomatic damage to our relationship," he says.

"A lot of work remains for federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig and the Gillard Government, who have managed this whole issue hopelessly, and a lot still needs to be done to continue to support the industry."

Redman believes trade from north-west ports in Western Australia needs to be resumed immediately as the impact will be felt by the cattle industry for a long time.


You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook