Assistance package labelled an "insult"

30 Jun, 2011 04:00 AM
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Kimberley pastoralist Jack Burton said the $3 million assistance package announced by Joe Ludwig was an insult to the beef industry.
Kimberley pastoralist Jack Burton said the $3 million assistance package announced by Joe Ludwig was an insult to the beef industry.

THE WA cattle industry has labelled Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig as out of touch with Australian farmers and producers.

The call comes after Mr Ludwig announced a $3 million assistance package for those affected by the sudden banning of the live export trade but lobby groups, pastoralists and the State Government have come out swinging saying the Federal Government needs to get its priorities right.

Mr Ludwig said the package would include income recovery subsidy payments and priority assistance through Job Services Australia for those who have lost their employment.

"This assistance package will ensure employees and small business owners who earn the majority of their income from the live cattle trade to Indonesia receive support in the short term," Mr Ludwig said.

"I understand that the decision of Government to suspend trade to Indonesia has made things tough for some people in the industry.

"Although this assistance will not substitute their full income, it will provide short-term assistance while safeguards for the trade are established."

WA Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman said the package would not get very far and would do very little to help the situation.

"In WA we estimate this decision could have a $170m impact directly on industry and up to 800 jobs directly and that is just WA," Mr Redman said.

WAFarmers president Mike Norton said the Federal Government needed to get serious about supporting Australia's live export industry.

Mr Norton said that while the assistance would be welcomed by the small number of businesses able to access it, it would not substitute the full amount of income that farmers, their employees and related industries would have earned had the trade not been suspended.

"The hardship being experienced by Australia's pastoralists and farmers is the direct result of the Federal Government's poor handling of the situation," he said.

"The longer the trade remains suspended, the more it damages Australia's agricultural industry."

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam said it was an insult to producers to be offered such a little amount.

"It may be of assistance to some station hands who have been laid off or assistance to a truck driver who has been laid off but it will not be of any assistance to the contract musterer, the helicopter owner, the station owner and the trucking company owners," Mr Gillam said.

Mr Gillam said some producers wouldn't worry about applying for the assistance package because it wasn't worth the effort.

"We have been told it's not means tested yet I know three people already who have applied and have been told they are not eligible because last year's income was too great," he said.

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