Twiggy’s Minderoo rejects Rinehart’s cattle export plan

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
Gina Rinehart at a Kidman station she now owns.
Camera IconGina Rinehart at a Kidman station she now owns. Credit: Pictures Supplied

Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Group has distanced itself from an ambitious plan by billionaire Gina Rinehart to export about 800,000 live cattle a year to China, describing it as short-sighted.

Yesterday’s development came as WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the State would adopt tougher livestock welfare standards, bringing them into line with the rest of Australia.

As reported in The Weekend West on Saturday, it is understood Mrs Rinehart has approached the WA, Northern Territory and Queensland governments seeking a memorandum of understanding before taking her cattle export plan to the Federal Government.

Hancock Pastoral’s general manager Adam Giles said the exports would not start until 2019 at the earliest, and would involve agreements with other pastoralists to supply cattle.

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It was reported yesterday that some of the cattle would be sourced from Minderoo’s pastoral stations, a claim rejected by Minderoo Group.

Minderoo Group spokeswoman Tania Hudson said there had been no approach from Mrs Rinehart, and the company had no intention of supporting such a project. Minderoo, which owns Harvey Beef, supported local processing, she said.

Ms Hudson said the firm believed in the economic and social benefits of training and employment locally, and value-adding to the agricultural sector in Australia.

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“It is short-sighted to regard Australia as simply a breeding ground, when there is enormous potential for economic and social benefits to flow throughout regional Australia with local processing,” Ms Hudson said.

“Processing is challenging, but we are committed to the sector as employers and customers.”

Harvey Beef employs more than 500 people and processes around 140,000 cattle per annum, with at least 90 per cent of throughput sourced from WA farmers.

New welfare standards involve the McGowan Government seeking an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2002, which will pave the way for mandatory and legally enforced welfare standards in WA, ensuring a nationally consistent approach.

National standards and guidelines for livestock transport were endorsed in 2012, but WA and the ACT are the only jurisdictions that have not yet regulated them.

The new WA standards include the use of pain relief when de-horning cattle, limiting the time in which livestock do not have access to water during transport, assessing and managing the heat load risk in feedlots and the muzzling of working dogs that habitually bite.

Currently in WA many of these actions are recommended rather than mandated.

Ms MacTiernan said the amendments to the Act were animportant step towards taking animal welfare beyond just “prevention of cruelty” by introducing enforceable minimum standards for animal care and management.

“Strong animal welfare and productivity in the agricultural sector go hand-in-hand,” she said.

“These standards will strengthen the industry and pave the way for a sustainable sector.

“Our producers take the care and welfare of animals seriously and this will further support them in managing their livestock businesses to community expectations.”

There would be more consultation with livestock industries on the approach to implementing the standards.

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