The Federal Government has lifted the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia but it looks like they panicked under pressure and rushed it through when it became clear that farmers were on the brink of shooting their cattle. The industry will now be able to apply for new export orders but have to show proof their animals will be killed according to Australian standards.
The decision to lift the ban comes as a surprise to some Labor backbenchers who are angry at not being consulted and many still have serious concerns that the cattle won’t be stunned before they are butchered. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said he could not guarantee Australian animals would not meet a cruel death but the government had done its bit to get Australian beef back on Indonesian plates. "It's now up to the commercial operators to come forward and meet those supply chain assurances and get those consignments flowing" he said.
The Opposition is ecstatic but the Greens and the RSPCA aren't happy. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says there is no guarantee animals will be stunned before they are killed. "I'm deeply concerned that the Minister for Agriculture's made a serious mistake here," she said. "We do not believe Indonesia is ready to reopen the trade, the Government cannot guarantee animal welfare standards.” The RSPCA are also not satisfied with the outcome and have said that the new conditions are not strict enough.
Elders owns and operates both a feedlot and ISO certified abattoir in Indonesia that processes 22,000 cattle a year so welfare standards are guaranteed but the ban will cost them around $7 million. Chief executive Malcolm Jackson said the company was getting $800 a beast before the Four Corners program but prices have fallen to just over $700.