To Bill Farmer AO.
Sir, I respect your years of experience in Indonesia and crave your attention to this submission from someone who is now a city bloke but who has cattle in his blood. I have followed the live cattle drama on JUST GROUNDS and have become close to the cattlemen and women who are members of this social networking website.
I provide my submission in support of the continuation of the Australian livestock export industry.
In providing this submission I refer directly to the Terms of Reference that cover a range of issues surrounding the live export industry that the independent review will examine and my opinion is set out below:-
Sir, I have taken my figures and statistics from the MLA and Cattle Council web sites where not otherwise referenced.
It has been estimated that the entire live cattle trade adds 7.8 cents per kilo (live weight) to the price of all cattle sold nationwide.
Indonesia is Australia’s largest export market for live cattle, taking more than 520,000 in 2010.
In this view it is conceded that point 8, post-embarkation needs attention.
In preparing this submission I have listened to an interview with Marlee Ranacher who with her husband Franz is the owner of Bullo Downs station. She breaks my heart. Sorry that's not very official. They are starting to shoot the stock now as it isn't viable to transport them south and flood the market.
I have full confidence that the domestic aspects of the livestock chain are being fully catered for and supervised by ASEL. The perceived problem with the Indonesian live beef trade as I see it has started in the foreign abattoir. The section of the trade that needs improving is the slaughtering of the beasts. Jeff Tancred and George Raptis suggest getting a local to do the job (of supervision). Would it be possible to utilize a branding cradle attached to a spring and cable in the abattoir? That at least is the suggestion of Bob Katter MP.
MLA are paid $4.60/beast. This could be effectively utilized to ensure that we provide supervision at our end of the journey and hopefully the MLA has trained local people at the Indonesian end.
Again, we would suggest that the prescribed beast weight be raised from 350 kg to 400 kg. It is difficult for producers to keep slaughter beasts under the 350 bar.
The types of cattle exported to Indonesia are 300-350kg high Bos indicus (Brahman) content animals. These animals are not suited to processing in Australia due to their light weight and condition. Even when grown out and fattened this type of animal is not preferred by our domestic or major export markets for chilled and frozen beef.
Sir, I would presume to say you would know the veracity of that premise better than anyone else.
In an age of convergent communication it is important and feasible to ensure any beasts leaving Australia are humanely treated. We have to get it right from the get go.
There are no viable options, no plan B. A risk analysis will indicate the possibilities of a hi-jack by pirates, boat capsize in stormy weather or mutiny by the crew.
Peter Daniels called one of his books “Living on the Edge” and that it what we are seeing with the live cattle export industry. By that I will enumerate some of the risks that may surface if this trade isn’t to gain traction soon:
Firstly, the sooner the issue is resolved the smaller the financial and economic impact on producers and communities in the north and ends the uncertainty that is distressing these communities.
Sir, Firstly from the Indonesian perspective you will well appreciate:
Sir, Finally I reiterate what the Northern Territory cattlemen said in a media statement:
Cattle producers and members of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association have been horrified and angered by
disturbing and graphic footage of animal cruelty inflicted upon Australian cattle in Indonesia.
Footage shown on the ABC four Corners program depicted inhumane, unnecessary and cruel practices during the
processing of Australian cattle in a number of Indonesian abattoirs.
It is hard to find words to describe what we have seen, said NTCA President Rohan Sullivan. I have never seen or heard of such abuse during my own visits to Indonesia in the last 12 to 18 months, and what I saw sickened me.
I also know that what we saw is not common practice and that the improvements that have been made and implemented over the years were not featured.
The reaction from Australians is entirely understandable, however to cattle producers and families who proudly devote their lives to the care and production of cattle, this has been a day of great distress, said Rohan. I have been inundated with calls from members of the public and producers immediately following the program.
Cattle producers who have, in good faith, contributed levies to drive improvement in animal welfare are incensed,
disappointed and affronted, said Rohan.
Clearly, solving this requires intervention at the highest levels, with government to government agreement and a
mandate for change from Indonesian government, commercial, and religious authorities. We support Minister Ludwig’s initial announcements and will stand ready to provide what ever assistance and support necessary.
The question we're asking ourselves, said Rohan is if we exit this market, will this drive any change in the system for cattle in general, whether they be from Indonesia or elsewhere? We certainly can't change it if we have no relationship with the system and have no place in it, said Rohan.
The frustration that we feel must be the impetus for positive change. But our view is that you develop positive change through relationships, not by destroying them. Producers are also demanding that their cattle are treated humanely and in line with their standards and expectations, and those of the wider Australian community.
Northern Territory producers are calling for a commitment from the federal government to establish a solid line of
communication and negotiation now, at the highest levels, with the Indonesian authorities to drive a solution that can be to the benefit of both countries and more importantly the animals which are part of this relationship. Australian Ministers need to get on aeroplanes today and speak to their counterparts in Jakarta. Cattle producers and their cattle need to be supported not abandoned, Rohan said.
The NTCA has been proactive in raising the profile of welfare and in 2010 at its annual conference hosted a visit by a high-level delegation from Indonesia including the Indonesian Agriculture Minister and Indonesian industry, the
Australian Agriculture Minister and a guest speaking appearance from the CEO of Australia's RSPCA. “
So it is that I send my submission to you, humbly seeking your support to permit live exports to Indonesia to continue with the additional safeguards and precautions as outlined above.
Signed: Ian Yeates