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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6773

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (16:25): I rise today to speak on two issues of relevance to the Australian beef industry. The first is on live exports to Indonesia, and I would like to take this opportunity to call on the government to resume the trade. The industry has been to government and presented a case for getting the trade up and running again, and the minister has now been over to Indonesia and has held discussions with the Indonesian government, so the time is right for us to commence the trade. We should do so, initially, by starting with those exporters who were exporting to abattoirs already meeting OIE guidelines. As a matter of fact, Elders have a first-class abattoir in Indonesia and a supply chain from the paddock to the plate which is the equivalent of what we have here in Australia. The trade for that company alone should never have been banned. As a matter of fact, the government made a knee-jerk reaction in stopping all the trade rather than just doing so for those abattoirs that were not practising standards. Those abattoirs' practices, I think we would all agree, were abhorrent and we do need to change them. But for those practising in the correct way, on behalf of the beef farmers of Australia, of the Indigenous communities who not only own beef properties but work in that industry and of everyone employed in this $400 million trade, we need to get on with that trade. It is a point worth making for those people who think we can just send manufactured meat over to Indonesia that our live cattle exports are the way we have led manufacturing meat into that market and in other markets as well. So, if we are moving to get more boxed meat into Indonesia, the best way to do it is to open the trade, and then the boxed meat will follow as a result of that.

At the same time that we have banned live exports to Indonesia, the government is proceeding with its $6 per head tax on those Australian producers sending their livestock to our own domestic abattoirs. They have done that without honouring the agreement that was made when these changes were brought into place. AMIC has put out a fact sheet about the Gillard government's imposition of a new $6 per head tax on the Australian producer. I would ask all members of this House to read it. I would ask the minister to read it, because not only are we harming our live exporters at the moment but we are about to put a new tax on our abattoirs which is going to make them less competitive. So, on those two issues, I would ask the government to seriously look at whether its actions are in the long-term interests of our beef producers, who have produced beef successfully in Australia since Federation.