Senator Glenn Lazarus is threatening the future of the northern cattle industry, Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan said today.
Senator Canavan condemned a motion Senator Lazarus will put to the Senate today suggesting that free trade agreements have caused job losses.
“The logical end point for what Senator Lazarus is suggesting in his motion is to ban or restrict exports of live cattle in favour of processing in Australia. We saw the disastrous consequences the last time Labor tried something like that.
“Senator Lazarus is questioning Australia’s free trade agreements that underpin growth in live cattle and meat exports,” Senator Canavan said.
“He is undermining confidence in the live cattle trade in particular and creating doubts about its future at a time when producers with cattle to sell have been getting good prices at auction.
“I know Senator Lazarus probably had no interest in politics or primary industry at the time the Labor party banned live cattle exports in 2011 but surely he has read something about the devastating impact that had across the north.
“Producers tell me every week how prices are being maintained at auctions across the north by bidders buying cattle for the live export trade.
“By calling into question the value of Australia’s free trade agreements – and singling out the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) in particular – Senator Lazarus is undermining confidence in these agreements and in the future of the live export trade,” he said.
Senator Canavan said that industry had already identified the current tariffs imposed on Australian beef, sheepmeat and co-products exported to China represent an annual impost on the supply chain in excess of $800 million.
“The gradual removal of these tariffs will bring billions of dollars in extra earnings to Australian primary producers, meat processors and the economy more broadly.”