Lobby groups question MLA direction

28 Nov, 2011 10:11 AM
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Rob Gillam
Rob Gillam

MEAT and Livestock Australia (MLA) won't be able to wash its hands of future live export issues despite its move to distance itself from the political debate.

According to Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president Rob Gillam, while a lot of the criticism directed at the MLA during the live export debate was unjustified, he doubted its mission to go back to basics and reinforce its role as a research and development service provider, would be easy to achieve.

"My feeling is that it can't wash its hands of live export issues because it will be involved in welfare issues and other aspects of cattle production," he said.

"It would be nice for the MLA to exclude itself from controversial issues but when issues arise again, it will always be at the forefront of that.

"It will always be involved in all aspects of cattle."

WAFarmers president Mike Norton said it was important MLA made clear that its mission was to provide marketing, research and development, not to act as an industry representative.

"The MLA did an excellent job but unfortunately it got sucked into a situation which wasn't its area of responsibility," Mr Norton said.

"MLA (representatives) were happy to do it on behalf of industry but when things turned political they found themselves in a position that they shouldn't have been in.

"This has shown all of us that we need to take an analysis of what our roles and positions are and should go back to the original charter."

Mr Norton said the lines had become blurred and there was confusion throughout industry of the MLA's role.

"(Representatives) got too far on the political side of things and they have now redefined the line, quite wisely, as to where they start and where they stop."

Mr Norton said LiveCorp and the Australian Livestock Exporters Council would have to take on some roles that MLA had been carrying out.

"Some of the on-ground operational issues in Indonesia, such as quality assurance, checking of abattoirs, traceback, will have to be worked out with industry in co-operation with the Federal Government and live exporters," he said.

He said the fact that a motion for the MLA to be disbanded only received support from 10 per cent of voters at last week's AGM proved such motions should be abandoned once and for all.

"This debate they have every year really is an embarrassment for the livestock industry," he said.

The Australian Beef Association (ABA) was behind the push to wind up the MLA.

ABA member and Kojonup cattle farmer John Hewson said he would continue to lobby against the MLA until the group introduced democratic elections.

"They need an organisation similar to Australian Wool Innovation, where producers can be directly elected," Mr Hewson said.

"We also need a one-stop-shop, we don't need the Cattle Council of Australia.

"That's just there to prop up the State farm lobbies.

"The MLA's negligence is behind the live export debacle.

"Because the MLA has failed in the last 10 years to develop any sort of internationally-accepted humane slaughter practices in abattoirs, the Federal Government had to intervene following the Four Corners revelations.

"MLA let the whole thing happen so nobody can have any confidence in them."

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READER COMMENTS

Brad Bellinger
29/11/2011 3:58:33 AM, on Farm Weekly

The MLA were involved in the the live export debacle they purchased and installed the mark one restrainng boxes flimed with cattle being brought down on the concrete slab.This supposedly skills based board did not have the skill to initiate adequate animal welfare in Indonesia,after expendature of 25 m since 2005.MLA also appeared at the senate inquiry wanted the import of beef from BSE affected countries.At their AGM no sooner did the Managing Director make a statement about now sticking to their core functions then Heatly made a negative comment about the Minister for Ag.Joe Ludwig.

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