Levy lobby's heavy load

Views on how the beef cattle sector should be run are as broad as the cattle business is

IF A Senate inquiry into the distribution of beef cattle levies gets up, the committee members deserve some sympathy.

For starters, the paperwork. Any Senate committee should expect to be snowed under paper, and this won't be any different.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), which has had to defend its existence every step of the way since its formation 14 years ago, is deep into documentation. If the committee seeks evidence, MLA will have it by the wheelbarrow load.

Despite slender resources, Cattle Council Australia (CCA) has spent a couple of years generating paper too, as it looks for a way to expand its representation. This investigation meant that CCA chief executive Jed Matz dropped 200 pages of briefing notes onto Barnaby Joyce on Monday, just as a preliminary.

Although it doesn't lack the desire for documentation, the Australian Beef Association (ABA) is the least equipped to do so. For the ABA's one office staffer and its small group of volunteers, writing a submission to the inquiry will likely involve a lot of midnight oil.

ABA members aren't shy of the stump, though, which is another area where the Senate inquiry will find itself with a lot of material.

Unlike politicians, graziers don't do soundbites. They do long, leisurely yarns around utes or on verandahs. This approach to discussion tends to be carried into meetings, at great cost to the schedule.

If it survives the paperwork and the meetings, the Senate committee will then have to try and stitch a coherent response from a patchwork of opinions.

Views on how the beef cattle sector should be run are as broad as the cattle business is geographically. This is the only agricultural sector that stretches from corner to corner of the continent, and most places in between.

It's virtually guaranteed that the inquiry will leave some producers disaffected, however carefully the committee members tread.

In the end, though, it's not what the committee recommends that counts, but the cattle industry's response to the whole exercise.

It can only be hoped that all the defenders in this long-running saga choose this moment to call a truce, come down from their towers and shake hands in the middle of the battlefield.

And then, they need to start jointly building another tower, the position from which the Australian beef industry will tackle booming Asian markets and defend against the real enemy: everyone else.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


bolton carpenter
8/11/2013 7:04:36 AM

That's right Mathew,MLA will use our levies to throw a blizzard of misinformation at the senators several of whom have rusted on ties to the SFO's.As a non political "service provider" MLA should be barred from participating in the senate review.Every one i know wants the MLA dissolved immediately.
Frank the Furious Farmer
8/11/2013 10:07:34 AM

MLA ,CCA etc are government prescribed bodies and have no right to be submitting paperwork to Joyce, they are prescribed by government and represent government, not the livestock producer. So great, we already have huge conflict of interest by the government prescribed bodies submitting paperwork to protect their government hides. What a joke this enquiry is going to be!!
Northern Exporter
8/11/2013 10:24:19 AM

Now is not the time for acquiescement Matthew, now is the time to take our sword and pierce the very hearts of CCA and MLA; rather than assisting the cattle owners in the north they are destroying our future by introducing regulation and dealing on our behalf without our consent with our enemies. ESCAS alone is enough to have them removed. CCA and MLA have to go; there will be no peace in the cattle sector until that happens.
Gaucho Gill
8/11/2013 10:37:08 AM

Joyce says in his PR.."“The beef cattle industry has primary responsibility for its own affairs and strategic direction" ; what a load of bulldust! Decisions made by "industry" are made in the corridors of power in Canberra, not out here. CCA does not represent the majority of cattle producers nationally; the CCA president's own SFO has been bankrupted by almost zero membership;SAFF no longer exists. Where is the mandate to act for us that they say they have? They are Prescribed as public servants and thats where their loyalties are; they must go sooner the better.
The Serf
8/11/2013 10:55:57 AM

Matthew; how would you like to pay a compulsory tax to a group that you do not want, cannot control their habits; within the Media network in Australia that governed what you say and write in your daily work; that is appointed by the Minister for Communications, who constantly told you and your fellow journos and the rest of the world that is was "your" "industry'.
8/11/2013 12:37:42 PM

MLA stated this week they still want to work with the RSPCA after what they have done. The MLA doesn't represent us and never has. Working with these fringe groups hasn't worked in the past and won't work in the future. Get rid of MLA now. If only cattle producers would work as one, we could refuse to pay the levies that were forced upon us just like LPA, NLIS etc etc. No one would mind paying if we were getting value but we definitely are not. MLA is Govt and works for Govt, not members. Remember Govt want to keep food cheap, that is their main goal for Agriculture.
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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