Live exports must resume

MEMBER for Maranoa Bruce Scott is adamant that live cattle exports to Indonesia must resume “within days, not weeks or months”.

Coalition MPs yesterday urged Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to take control of the situation as pressure mounted on the government to quickly resume exports so producers would not be out of pocket.

Mr Scott said our electronic livestock tagging systems could ensure Australian cattle only went to accredited Indonesian abattoirs.

Warwick animal activists have been letter-boxing local streets this week with pro-forma letters to Mr Scott for them to sign and post.

The letters, delivered under a cloak of anonymity, urge Mr Scott to argue for a permanent ban on live exports, with a temporary ban in place which could remain for months.

Mr Scott’s comments yesterday echoed those of Nationals Leader Warren Truss who said this week limited exports could resume now, due to our electronic cattle-tracking technology, although some industry leaders have suggested it could take several weeks to get systems fully in place in Indonesia.

Mr Scott was having none of the local animal advocates’ demands yesterday, saying there were five accredited abattoirs in Indonesia which met Australian standards.

“There are another 17 that meet international standards and we also have Australian-owned and operated feed lots there,” Mr Scott said.

“With our National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) ear tags, which are world-leading technology, we can track cattle from paddock to plate.

“We can quite easily ensure that Australian cattle shipped to Indonesia only end up in accredited feedlots and abattoirs, the bottom line being we have got to ensure this trade resumes and quickly.”

Mr Scott said there remained only about a 12-week window of opportunity for northern Australian cattle producers to muster stock and get them to port before the warm and wet weather sets in.

“It’s such a different situation to cattle production in southern Australia and the cattle in the north are tropical breeds bred to suit the climate in Indonesia,” he said.

“They are not suitable for the domestic market, they are fattened in Indonesia and they are grown exclusively for that international market.”

Mr Scott said if Australia withdrew from the live trade altogether we would have no ability at all to influence animal welfare in Indonesia and conditions at the more basic abattoirs would not improve.

Meat and Livestock Australia met yesterday with Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig over his demand that the body shell out $5 million in compensation to affected producers.

No outcome of the meeting had surfaced by the time of printing of the Daily News last night, but MLA was expected to object.

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