Green light for cattle shipment

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

The first cattle boat to Indonesia since the Federal Government slapped a ban on the trade is due to be loaded out of Darwin within days.

Three thousand cattle will be shipped and processed through Elders wholly-owned supply chain, which has been independently audited and ticked off by the Federal Government for meeting the new criteria required to send cattle to this market.

The herd has been held in yards south of Darwin since trade was suspended in June and is booked to be loaded on or about August 6 on the livestock export vessel Sahiwal Express.

Elders managing director Malcolm Jackman said that while the first ship could take about 3000 cattle from Darwin it would only need “two or three phone calls” for him to have another 20,000 ready to go.

He said Elders expected to lodge applications for further consignments to Indonesia in the near future.

“Northern Australia is desperately awaiting recovery in the trade, and it is vital that the volumes can be increased as rapidly as a sustainable solution will permit, ” he said.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam welcomed the news saying it should lead the way for other exporters to receive their approvals and allow for a steady resumption of the trade.

Mr Gillam said it was the Federal Government’s granting of export permits which would provide the WA cattle industry with the assurance it needed that the trade would continue.

Not a single beast has been shipped to Indonesia since July 6, when Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig announced the lifting of the month-long suspension.

The Federal Government approved the Elders shipment late last Friday. Other exporters are yet to submit their notice of intention to export.

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president Rohan Sullivan said it could take two years before the negative impacts of the backlog of export cattle had been dealt with.

A survey of affected cattle-growers by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released last week said the suspension had cost 326 jobs.

This included workers who had either been laid off, or those who would have been hired.

Of the 597,000 cattle that the industry expected to sell to Indonesia this year, 375,000 were unsold at the time of the export suspension.

ABARES forecasts that about 278,000 cattle could be available for export by the end of the year if trade resumed by the end of this month.

Once trade is back up and running, Elders will consider taking legal action against the Federal Government.

Other stakeholders have also sought legal advice about the possibility of a class action. A large number of people affected by the ban met with lawyers from Minter Ellison in Darwin last week.

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