Australian were sickened and outraged by the cruelty our cattle are receiving at the hands of Indonesian abattoirs on ABC's Four Corners program. Bob Katter dropped a bombshell when he said that the cattle industry and everyone associated with live animal exports knew it was going on but decided it was too hard to do anything about it. That decision has come back to bite them in spades and the buck stops at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). Mr Katter says that because of their incompetence, they should pay compensation to farmers caught up in the crisis.
WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said it's a lazy decision by the federal government - they didn't think it through and don't understand the problem. WA supplies 65 per cent of cattle to Indonesia and there are around 7,000 people involved in the process - producers, stockyard workers, truck drivers, helicopter pilots and all their support staff are now affected. He said "I hear today there's a group being pulled together in the Federal Department of Agriculture to find out the impact of their decision."
But there's another side to the story. Julia Gillard said yesterday that Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig had written to industry "for a further plan on animal welfare" in March but the proposed plans were sent back because "they weren't up to scratch." She went on "We understand that there has been an impact on industry but they did have our perspective about animal welfare concerns raised with them as early as January this year."
David Farley, head of the Australian Agricultural Company said they have been hit hard by the ban but it will definitely accelerate moves to establish an abattoir in Darwin. His company had been planning a $50 million Darwin abattoir before the ban but now it's likely to be even bigger. "There are going to be a lot more cattle in northern Australia, the cost of fuel is continuing to go up and a carbon tax will impact heavily on the cattle industry ..... through transport" he said.
Is it possible that we Australians care more about the welfare of our cattle than asylum-seekers?