Nearly 9 years to the day since the Labor Government’s blanket ban on live cattle export to Indonesia, cattle producers in the Northern Territory have finally had their win in court.
On 7 June, 2011, the then Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, signed a blanket ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia. This was after a week of uncertainty for producers following a Four Corners report and suspensions of exports to 12 Indonesian abattoirs.
While the stroke of a pen lives were destroyed. With thousands of cattle being mustered, ready to board ships to the only market these producers had access to – their livelihoods were ripped out from underneath them in an instant.
Today's Federal Court judgement confirmed what we already knew but hopefully it will provide justice for some who were affected. It is now time for the Federal Government to accept this decision and provide reasonable compensation to those who have been injured. Justice has already been delayed long enough.
The former Labor government’s rash decision to ban live cattle exports caused enormous, unnecessary pain. The $316 million live cattle trade to Indonesia saw a 42% drop-in exports between 2010, before the ban, and 2012, after the ban.
The 2011 Senate inquiry heard numerous reports from producers, small businesses and councils who felt the brunt of the shutdown.
The inquiry heard of a dramatic drop in employment, especially indigenous employment, a drop of around $160 a head for domestic cattle and increased transport prices for NT cattle to get to Queensland and South Australian abattoirs
And the effects were felt throughout every aspect of the industry. Sale prices for producers on the eastern seaboard crashed, as their market was flooded with NT cattle, families struggled to keep the lights on and pay their kids school fees.