State s exporters losing $1m a day
State's exporters losing $1m a day

The WA live export industry has lost more than $1 million a day since the Federal Government banned trade with Indonesia.

There are 2000 cattle waiting at Port Hedland and another 20,000 on contract to Indonesia, with no sign yet their owners have found other markets.

Transport operators, cattle station staff, exporters and other industry players have been put on hold since last Tuesday when Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig banned the trade for at least six months.

While exports out of WA to Indonesia were worth $200 million last year, the ban's impact is far broader, so the economic ripple is spreading across the State.

Despite the cost, Meat and Livestock Australia yesterday refused a Federal Government demand to put $5 million from its own pocket towards a fund to help cattle producers.

Senator Ludwig gave the organisation until Friday to change its mind. If not, he said he would exercise his powers under the Act and appropriate the money. Livestock Australia would not say yesterday if it would challenge Senator Ludwig's position in court.

The Federal Opposition is urging the Government to immediately resume live exports to a handful of Indonesian abattoirs that meet Australian standards.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard was firm that no trade would resume until a system had been devised to track cattle from ship gate to slaughterhouse floor.

The suspension was driven by a caucus revolt after the broadcast of shocking footage by the ABC's Four Corners.

The caucus gave notice of a motion calling for a ban of all live exports to Indonesia until the country's abattoirs met "Australian standards".

Despite the Government acting, the caucus went ahead with the motion yesterday and it was passed unanimously.

But the language had been watered down, saying the suspension should remain until Indonesian abattoirs complied with the lesser "international" standards.

Unlike Australian standards, these do not require the stunning of the animal before it is killed.

The motion spoke of international standards and "encouraging the use of stunning and requiring ongoing independent monitoring".

Labor MPs told The West Australian there would be a "riot" if the Government resumed the trade without guaranteeing all Australian cattle were stunned.

Hedland Export Depot manager Nigel Klinger said the cattle in Port Hedland had plenty of feed and were happy but were still in the "very unusual" position of having nowhere to go.

The West Australian

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