Shires say ban has ripple effect

Amy WilliamsCountryman

The ban on live cattle exports may be over but it is having a disastrous ripple effect on the Kimberley economy as a whole, according to local shires.

Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley chief executive Gary Gaffney released a report this week on the effect the ban will have on North West shires.

Mr Gaffney said while the actual dollar amount collected in pastoral rates was not huge, if cattle producers could not afford to pay their rates, the flow on effect would be.

“Almost 100 per cent of pastoral rates go back into grading and maintaining those rural roads they use to truck their cattle to ports, ” Mr Gaffney said.

“It’s not just that — it’s all these other local businesses who sell fuel, feed and tyres. They all need to pay rates too. We’re concerned about the downstream impact.”

Mr Gaffney said the report was being sent to many politicians — not to lobby for compensation, but to inform on how wide-reaching consequences could be of private member’s bills from Nick Xenophon and Tony Windsor to ban live trade within three years.

Shire of Derby West Kimberley president Elsia Archer said she had grave concerns for Kimberley shires which had a large base of pastoral ratepayers, and that some maintenance work on rural roads would have to be cancelled to balance budgets.

The report said the Shire of Derby West Kimberley collected $769,023 in pastoral rates each year — while it spent $1,076,054 on grading and maintaining rural roads.

The Shire of Halls Creek collects $251,167 of pastoral rates, and spends $550,000 on rural roads maintenance, and the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley collects $245,000 and spends $1,444,242 on rural roads.

Mrs Archer was one of 25 people in Broome last Wednesday who met with Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, who had authorised the ban. She said it was a disappointing meeting.

“I don’t think he understands these people, ” Mrs Archer said.

“He kept talking about ‘this industry’ but to him, that means Meat and Livestock Australia, which deals with the Holmes a Courts and the like. But I don’t think he understands the smaller, family-run station people of the Kimberley.”

Mrs Archer said if the Government wanted to help Kimberley pastoralists, they needed more compensation than the $25,000 being offered.

“Ask Kurt Elezovich from Country Downs — his fuel bill is $15,000 a month, ” she said. “What’s $25,000?” I really feel for them — I can understand them being angry.”

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