Big crowd rallies to support cattlemen

Bob Garnant, Rebecca Turner and AAPCountryman

About 500 pastoralists and farmers from all corners of the State rallied on the Perth foreshore last week, united in their call for support for the future of the live export trade and the industry they love.

The rally, organised by WAFarmers and the Save Australian Farming group, was aimed at highlighting the issues confronting the industry and helping to bridge the country-city divide. Initial advertising material for the event, released ahead of the lifting of the live export ban, displayed Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) and WAFarmers logos side by side but the PGA subsequently backed-out.

PGA spokesman Sheldon Mumby said the rally was organised to support the re-opening of the export trade and because the ban had since been lifted and Indonesia had issued cattle import permits, the PGA now saw no need to take part in the rally to lobby the Government.

“Regardless, numerous PGA members including its president Rob Gillam and vice-president Ruth Webb-Smith, who helped to organise the event and also spoke at the rally, made the trip to show their support for the live export trade — the overwhelming issue of the day, ” he said.

Mrs Webb-Smith, whose family has been desperately affected by the disruption of the trade, labelled the lifting of the ban as a farce because the Federal Government had yet to grant any export permits.

Former National Farmers’ Federation president David Crombie told the crowd that the challenge was to increase food production to feed a projected 9.2 billion people by 2050.

“The world will need 70 per cent more food by 2050, ” he said.

Liberal WA Senator, Chris Back repeated calls for the ABC to explain why it sat on the footage for so long.

He added that urban Australia needed to understand that only about 10 per cent of Indonesians had refrigerators, with most relying on the daily fresh meat market supplied by the live cattle trade.

He also said Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was the only Cabinet minister who understood the diplomatic disaster of suspending the trade to Indonesia, but he was in Budapest when the ban was imposed.

Other speakers included former Labor MLA Larry Graham, Liberal MHR for Durack Barry Hasse and radio presenter, Howard Sattler.

Pastoralist Tim D’Arcy urged that it was important to educate the public as to where their food came from.

“People need to wake up that there will be a shortage of food in the world, ” Mr D’Arcy said.

He said cattle that should have already been exported to Indonesia will now compete for food in the State’s north.

“If we have a dry summer, we won’t have enough feed and we will be faced with shooting stock.”

Rob Harper, of Carnegie station, Wiluna, said there is no certainty for the industry.

“We have been saved by a good season, but are being hit hard by the financial institutions, ” Mr Harper said.

Les Parsons, from Coolawanyah Pastoral, Tom Price, said northern pastoralists had the potential to feed millions of Indonesians and that when the minister decided to call for a ban, he should have first talked to our customers.

John Jones, who runs three cattle stations at Yindi, near Kalgoorlie, said Australians would take their concerns to the voting booths.

Iain Nicholson, a sheep producer at New Norcia, added his voice to the concern as to how politicians can make such irresponsible decisions unjustifiably.

At the conclusion of the rally, a delegation of farmers marched to the venue of the Primary Industry Ministerial Council (PIMC), where WA Minister for Agriculture Terry Redman was holding a media conference. Senator Ludwig declined to meet the producers gathered, but did speak to four representatives.

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