Rinehart laments red tape holding back WA cattle

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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The iron ore baron says the impact of red tape is evident when comparing Australia’s cattle industry to that of Brazil.
Camera IconThe iron ore baron says the impact of red tape is evident when comparing Australia’s cattle industry to that of Brazil.

Billionaire Gina Rinehart has hailed investment in agri-tech as a pathway to prosperity and renewed calls for the McGowan Government to slash the onerous red tape which is hampering development of WA’s northern cattle industry.

Speaking by videolink at today’s Pastoralists & Graziers’ Association annual convention, Ms Rinehart said Australia’s cattle industry had great room to grow, but was being stifled by red tape, citing the example of restrictions on using water from the Fitzroy River.

“Across the average wet season, approximately 7000 gigalitres of water is wasted,” she said.

This is equivalent to 14 times the water within Sydney Harbour.

“As it stands the Government only allows one water licence to access water from the Fitzroy River, leaving approximately 99.991 per cent of the water to run out uselessly into the Indian Ocean,” Ms Rinehart said.

VideoWe take a look at what life is like on a cattle muster with Mount Magnet pastoralist Ashley Dowden.

The iron ore baron said the impact of this red tape was evident when comparing Australia’s cattle industry to that of Brazil — Brazil has 210 million cattle, compared to Australia’s 25 million, despite the countries having a similar land mass.

The impact of red tape is also evident between Australian States. According to Meat and Livestock Australia 2016-17 figures, Queensland has 10.6 million cattle, compared to WA’s 2 million, even though WA has a much bigger land mass.

Ms Rinehart said during long-serving former Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s time, investment and business were welcome and a thriving cattle industry was built.

Now third-biggest producer of cattle in Australia with a total herd size reaching about 300,000, Hancock Prospecting’s pastoral portfolio includes the Liveringa and Nerrima stations, which cover 470,000ha in the Fitzroy Valley and Fossil Downs station near Fitzroy Crossing.

Ms Rinehart last year bought Australia’s biggest pastoral company, S.Kidman and Co, with Chinese group Shanghai CRED, and is on the brink of live exporting up to 300,000 cattle a year to China.

She said game-changing technology that Hancock introduced to its stations, including digital UHF systems and the walk-over cattle weighing system to reduce mustering, would also be introduced to Kidman stations after recent board approval.

“A major technology we are rolling out is the use of walk-over weighing, where walk over scales are fitted near a watering point, to record the weight of cattle,” she said.

“This enables cattle ready to be marketed to be automatically yarded, and those underweight to return to pasture.”

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