Pastoralists on long road to recovery

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Gascoyne pastoralist David Robinson and his family are pinning their hopes on the revival of the live cattle trade to Indonesia.

This spring, the family will muster about 7000 head of cattle from three stations - Doorawarrah, Yinnetharra and Mount Phillip - all within 350km east of Carnarvon.

Mr Robinson, known to most as "Waddy", has lived on stations all his life and started working at Doorawarrah in the 1970s.

He and his wife Genevieve took over the station in 2009.

Their son, Digby, and daughters, Courtney and Matilda, also play an active role in the business.

Mr Robinson spoke for pastoralists across the State when he said the 2011 Federal Government ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia was still hurting the industry.

"We are seriously under pressure from the banks," he said.

"Everyone is still reeling from the effects of the live export ban and there are no more quotas going out until October, so everyone is in limbo."

Mr Robinson said about two-thirds of the station's cattle from this muster would go to Israel and the remainder to Indonesia.

Indonesia's order for 25,000 more cattle after Ramadan last July, helped WA pastoralists like the Robinsons, whose Brahman cattle are bred specifically for that market.

Last month, the Indonesian government signalled a possible end to the quota system introduced after Australia's temporary ban on live exports.

Indonesian Agriculture Minister Suswono reportedly declared that the country would allow open imports when the local price exceeded A$7.50, or 76,000 rupiah, per kilogram. Prices are currently at about 100,000 rupiah per kilogram.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Rob Gillam said while this was a positive sign, uncertainty would likely remain over Indonesian cattle imports until the country's 2014 presidential election.

"Indonesia is going through a transitional period," he said.

"They know they want more beef and they know that Australia is the place to get it, but there is political turmoil leading up to the election."

Mr Gillam said industry talks indicated Indonesia could ask for more Australian cattle soon, but current demand was low.

The Robinsons expect to finish their muster in the next month.

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