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News Media Releases Meatworkers’ union welcomes Indonesian live export ban – it’s time for a fundamental change in policy
Meatworkers’ union welcomes Indonesian live export ban – it’s time for a fundamental change in policy
Thursday, 09 June 2011 14:15

Speaking on the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia, the Federal Secretary of the Meatworkers’ Union, Brian Crawford said:

“The Meatworkers’ Union welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend live exports of cattle to Indonesia on animal welfare grounds – now a fundamental change in policy must occur.

“Pastoralists and graziers chose the live export trade instead of supporting the domestic processing industry and it has decimated many processing facilities in Australia.  Progressive Australian governments of all political persuasions have also thrown their weight behind the live export trade. 

“As a result, there is no significant abattoir in the Northern Territory or in the North of Western Australia.  There were many facilities once but they progressively disappeared with the growth of the live export trade. 

“Anyone who thinks the two developments aren’t closely linked is denying the obvious. 

“While this was going on, thousands of Australian meatworkers lost their jobs and their families lost a breadwinner. 
“Everyone was aware of the volatility of the live export market and the animal welfare problems.  Further, Indonesia recently announced it wanted to be self-sufficient by 2014.

“We must learn from the experience.  It is foolhardy to desperately cling to live export trade or make pleas for a lifting of the suspension.  It is an inherently volatile market constantly plagued with animal welfare problems.  It’s not worthy of any policy support.  Reliance on it was misplaced.  Encouragement of investment in it was short sighted.  Much worse, the vociferous support for it over the decades by the huge media operations of Government, MLA and LiveCorp has now been proven to be empty spin.

“It’s time for the Government and the Industry Peak Councils to come to grips with the fact that they must support and encourage a strong domestic meat processing sector, cattle and sheep.  It value adds by as much as 20% over live trade.  It’s a far more stable, viable and long term market for primary producers.  It’s an industry with world’s best practices in humane treatment and slaughtering.  But most importantly, they’ll be supporting Australian jobs and Australian families.         

“A Government commissioned feasibility study  into establishing an abattoir in Northern West Australia was completed recently.  One of its major conclusions was that:

A processing chain featuring a new facility could not be expected to work as an option of ‘last resort’, behind the live trade. Processing would need to become the dominant stream in the region of the abattoir, with live export as a back-up option.

Unless and until we see a whole of industry and government commitment to this, we will all continue to suffer the extremes of the live trade – job losses and damage to Australia’s international reputation by the cruelty involved.

For more information contact: Brian Crawford, Federal Secretary - Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union, on 0419 736 582 or 07 3217 3766


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