All guns blazing on live ex

03 Apr, 2014 01:00 AM
It is time to drop the rhetoric and work to secure the future for all farming communities

OPINION: Greens spokesperson on animal rights SENATOR LEE RHIANNON responds to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce on the Australian live export debate:

WHIPPING up a tirade about the Greens and their “extremist backers” supposedly holding producers to “ransom” over the live export trade might work for Mr Joyce’s fondness for colourful language but it does nothing to address the needs of rural communities.

His public response to the Greens Bill to end the live export trade and the disallowance motion to prevent the recommencement of the trade in livestock with Egypt has been short on rational analysis and big on abuse.

Mr Joyce in his outburst failed to recognise that the livestock industry is already changing. A responsible minister would be assessing how to expand future processed meat markets for producers, create jobs in rural and regional Australia and boost local economies.

Working to expand the trade in chilled boxed meat would deliver on all these fronts. The Greens are not against the interests of farming communities as Minister Joyce dishonestly suggests.

Our work to end the live export trade is designed to both reduce animal suffering and to strengthen rural communities through jobs growth and greater market certainty for the meat trade.

In 2012 I released the Greens Transition Plan that identified five key areas the government needed to work on to secure a profitable future for cattle and sheep producers.

These are:

  • to encourage the development of new meat processing facilities in northern Australia;
  • remove trade distortions and more vigorously market Australian meat overseas;
  • boost skills and educate workers;
  • smooth the transition for farmers and the meat processing sector; and
  • establish teams to drive reform within government.
  • The good news is that despite a federal government minister stuck in the last century on this issue, trade in processed meat is growing. In 2013 170,000 tonnes of boxed, chilled meat was exported to the Middle East bringing in $780 million dollars for Australian producers.

    Bahrain is an important example to highlight.

    When trade to Bahrain was suspended in 2012 - Bahrain totally replaced live Australian sheep imports with Australian chilled and frozen meat. In 2013, Bahrain took more sheep in carcase from Australia than they have taken in live animals in many years. Economic reports show that sheep processed in Australia are worth 20 per cent more to the economy than those exported live.

    In the case of Saudi Arabia, they have not taken live animals from Australia since the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was introduced because they could not meet ESCAS standards. They take Australian meat instead.

    As reported by FarmOnline, record lamb shipments, and record beef shipments into Saudi Arabia, have contributed to stellar growth in the boxed, chilled meat trade in this region.

    It is hard to understand why Australia would choose to put further animals at risk in Egypt when we have a growing beef and sheep meat export trade with that country. The Meat and Livestock Association is actively working to increase meat exports to Egypt.

    The regulatory system that Mr Joyce trumpets about when another case of animal abuse is reported cannot be used to justify the continuation of the live export trade. The government introduced ESCAS in 2012 in an attempt to trace animals exported from Australia through the whole export system.

    Despite ESCAS being in place in many of the countries where we trade in live exports, there been numerous breaches of animal welfare standards. The credibility of the system has been further undermined by the unwillingness of the Department of Agriculture to sanction exporters responsible for the breaches.

    My Joyce would be wise to take notice of what his Department is saying on this issue. The Department of Agriculture’s investigation released in March 2014 into why the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council suspended the live export trade to Egypt in 2013 concluded that the problems with ESCAS are systemic.

    It is time the abuse and attacks on those who advocate ending the live export trade stopped. To stand for animal welfare should not be distorted as being against farming communities.

    Minister Joyce is in denial about the long term viability of live exports. He needs to admit Australia has a problem and take action to transition to trade in boxed, chilled meat.

    I believe Mr Joyce and I have a similar commitment to the future of rural Australia. It is time to drop the rhetoric and work to secure the future for all farming communities not just the few rich pastoralists who benefit from the live export trade.

    Date: Newest first | Oldest first


    Jo Bloomfield
    3/04/2014 4:30:55 AM

    'A few rich pastoralists' what a load of rhetoric right there! Lee Rhiannons purpose is of course one nail in the coffin at a time, to ban all live export, with no idea of ramifications on producers. 40% of the NT properties are owner managed. The northern herd already strongly supports meat processing NT send nearly the equivalent to processing as LE, Affect the profitability of LE will be at detriment of processors due to herd loss. with QLD processing beef 49% and exporting 85% of that. Our main meat markets are not cheep meat countries because it is too expensive to produce for them.
    3/04/2014 4:46:25 AM

    The main market uncertainty farmers have is if the greens get in power.
    Sue Head
    3/04/2014 5:18:42 AM

    Well said Lee, am very over this bully boy tactics that we see by Barnaby Joyce. He after all is responsible under his portfolio for animal welfare, is he not? Joe Hockey prior to the election promised funding for an ab in Qld. Heard nothing since the election around this. About time the govt. stopped investing in Indonesian cattle industry to the tune of $60 million and spend that money here in Aust. to create jobs & boost our economy. We've lost the Russian chilled market as well as Bahrain, and it seems Barnaby is more concerned about creating jobs overseas than here.
    3/04/2014 5:44:12 AM

    Here here! Very well said Lee and unlike our Ag Minister, you have made your point in a credible and measured way. The irony is that it is those who purport to represent the Ag sector who will be responsible for its ultimate demise due to their inability or worse - refusal - to see past the end of their noses. Live export is a blight on Australia and just as we condemn whaling some 40 years after the last whale was legally killed in our own country - I have no doubt we'll look back on the live trade with equal shame and disgust.
    Territory Paul
    3/04/2014 5:51:45 AM

    Lee Rhiannon just does not get it, she just cant understand that some countries do not have reliable constant power for refrigeration for their people so these people must have access to freshly killed meat on a regular basis. More northern meatworks is not going to help their plight, and these proposed works will not get enough killable cattle to be viable. The answer could be to build build more modern works in Indonesia and process the cattle there, but this idea introduces problems as Indonesia is not bovine TB free so there would probably be restrictions where this meat could go
    John Newton
    3/04/2014 5:52:09 AM

    Logic – could you point to anything in the Greens proposal that will give the market uncertainty? All seems pretty – if you'll pardon the pun on your name – logical to me
    3/04/2014 5:53:04 AM

    Politicians have closed ranks against common sense and animal welfare to ramp up live exports. They've also locked up their hearts against compassion, and being lured by dollars and rural votes. It's time to step back and listen to the Greens.
    Bushfire Blonde
    3/04/2014 5:53:42 AM

    Lee, what are you doing about the ridiculous cost of processing meat in Australia? This cost is way way way above global levels and is one of the main factors behind the Live Exporting. Graziers cannot get a decent price for their cattle from the Australian Meat works and can get a better price by selling the cattle live. Consequently they get processed overseas at a reasonable price. And what are the details of the Compensation Package if you are successful in shutting down the Live cattle Trade and hence putting a lot of graziers out of business? Get real dear woman!
    3/04/2014 6:36:52 AM

    Thank you Barnaby Joyce for your support of an industry which has been seriously maligned and all continuing improvements to the export industry chain continue to remain unrecognized by these groups. Live export is now recognised as THE MAIN, POSSIBLY ONLY MECHANISM effectively putting a floor price in the entire aust beef industry - additional processing units will as previously, be rigorously squeezed out of business by the multinational corporations who use aust producers as the cheapest supplier in the world of "raw material being meat product" to add value to their corporate business
    3/04/2014 6:57:05 AM

    As an animal lover and pragmatist I see sense in what Lee Rianon says. The ag sector can still make money if animals are slaughtered in Oz and it would create jobs for locals. Not to mention the terrible cruelty wouldn't happen.
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