Transport bookings put on hold

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Northern livestock transporters could be faced with idle trucks and limited income for months unless the suspension on trade to Indonesia is lifted soon.

Hampton Livestock Transport manager Justin Morrissey said the northern cattle industry had come to an abrupt halt, as pastoralists put truck bookings to send cattle to export depots on hold.

He said it could be back to business as usual if the suspension was lifted within a fortnight, but if it lasted six months the impact would be huge.

“If trucks are sitting around for the best part of the dry season and then comes the wet season, we will basically go until March or April next year before we start to get income on those trucks again,” Mr Morrissey said.

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He said transporters might still be able to cart cattle south if pastoralists could find markets, but the extra miles would be offset by the limited number of head suitable for southern markets.

WA’s northern cattle industry is the bread and butter of John Leeds’ transport business.

Annually, the business transports in excess of 40,000 cattle, sometimes more than 1000 beasts a week.

The cattle producer and truck driver said he would be lying if he said he wasn’t concerned about the impact the suspension would have on his business, which was 100 per cent reliant on pastoral cattle.

Mr Leeds employs six truck drivers and uses dozens of other small businesses, all of which he said would be affected by the suspension of live trade to Indonesia.

“I’ll keep carting cows, but if producers can’t sell their cattle then that inhibits their ability to pay,” he said.

“We employ people, then there are boilermakers, mechanics — people who survive off us and we survive off the producer.

“It’s going to be hard for us to gauge the impact of this on the business… but in 12 months time I could probably put a figure on it.

“As an industry, we feel defeated; the people behind these decisions haven’t got a clue.”

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