Pastoralist questions industry's future

28 Feb, 2012 02:00 AM
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Glen Dellar, Maroonah station, has put two of his three properties in the Gascoyne up for sale saying he has lost faith in the industry.
Glen Dellar, Maroonah station, has put two of his three properties in the Gascoyne up for sale saying he has lost faith in the industry.

FARMERS have always been an optimistic bunch.

So when a farmer says he has 'lost faith' in the industry, it can come as quite a shock.

But that is the current sentiment of pastoralist Glen Dellar, Maroonah station.

Mr Dellar has put two of his three properties in the Gascoyne up for sale saying he has lost faith in the industry.

He said the live cattle export ban to Indonesia, the drought and, more recently, the pastoral rent rise had caused him to look for other sources of income.

"You just lose faith," Mr Dellar said.

"You can only bang your head against a brick wall for so long."

Mr Dellar said he needed to look at other employment options so he could remain in the industry.

"We will hang onto one of these places because we love what we do but it is certainly not an industry you want to think about setting your grandchildren up in at present," he said.

"Going out and doing something else will enable us to stay in the industry."

Even after 30 years on the station, Mr Dellar said there were too many things working against the industry now to make it work.

"It is death by a 1000 cuts," he said.

"Everybody is in your pocket, regulations, the ban and droughts and then with all that, pastoral lease rents are going up again."

"We couldn't make money beforehand and now they have just come out and thrown a big lot of grease on the tracks."

Mr Dellar blamed politicians largely for what they had done to the industry, in particular Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig.

"There wouldn't have been any genuine inquiries to purchase pastoral leases since the live export ban disaster," he said.

"Prior to the ban there was plenty of interest.

"In effect what he has done is taken all the equity out of my business."

Mr Dellar said the Federal Government's decision to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia in June last year has had a major impact on the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

Mr Dellar travelled to Indonesia in November and said he found himself apologising for Federal Government's actions constantly.

"As soon as they (Indonesia) are able to find other markets, they will," he said.

"They have been treated appallingly.

"While it has decimated our industry, it had a massive impact on their food security.

"We turned the tap off to people over there and you just can't do that."

Mr Dellar said he appealed against the pastoral rents increase but, like many other pastoralists, didn't have time to do more.

"I just couldn't fight it any longer, I was too time poor and I didn't have the financial resources to follow it up," he said.

"The State Administrative Tribunal gave us a lot of latitude but the process and compliance was a bit too involved for me,

"So now we just have to wear it.

"It is so unjust, we now have 230 per cent, 240pc and 400pc increase on our properties.

"If you did that in suburbia you would be a one-term government.

"The process needs to be a lot fairer and simplified.

"The pastoral enterprise now runs a very poor second to a lot of the other stuff we are doing."

Mr Dellar said he didn't believe the Federal Government valued agriculture.

He said other countries looked after agriculture because they knew the importance of the industry and what it meant to the future stability of the nation.

"They reckon we get the government we deserve and look at what we have got," he said.

"Any business analyst would tell investors not to go anywhere near agriculture at the moment.

"It is a lifestyle that while very rewarding in many way is now financially very challenging.

"The real issue is that our costs keep rising and our returns stagnate, the net effect is that our terms of trade diminish every year.

"The droughts and floods we can handle, but stunts from Ludwig and co make you ask yourself do we really need all this grief."

VNW Independent director Simon Wilding said stations in the north had suffered the same fate as the property market in general.

"In saying that the right places are still creating good interest," he said.

"I think everybody is still sitting on their hands and are not putting them up for sale yet because cattle prices are still very good."

Mr Wilding said he didn't think there had been increase in station sales since the ban but admitted there had been a correction in price.

Pastoralist and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam said it was a concern that station owners were thinking of leaving the industry.

"I have certainly heard of a lot of people who have lost faith in the industry," Mr Gillam said.

"But I only know of a few who have put properties on the market and made a move.

"I think the issue is that a lot of people talk about it but then they are unsure what they are going to do afterwards."

Federal Member for Durack Barry Haase said he was appalled by the lack of concern by the State and Federal Government actions.

"One may ask whether the industry will ever recover from the arrogant abuse handed out by the Gillard Government in shutting down our live cattle exports," Mr Haase said.

"Not only internationally insulting our best overseas customer but strangling overnight an industry already suffering hardship through climate variability and high costs."

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