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Labor Caucus set to discuss live cattle issue -

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Labor Caucus set to discuss live cattle issue

Sabra Lane reported this story on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 08:12:00

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Labor Party Caucus meets this morning and on the top of the agenda is
likely to be the controversial subject of live beef exports.

Two Labor backbenchers have made it clear they'd like to see a full debate today on the issue of
cattle exports to Indonesia. They'd also prefer that the process be stopped until all slaughter
facilities in Indonesia that receive Australian cattle meet Australian standards.

The Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig tried to pre-empt that yesterday by announcing a review but it
won't be enough to assuage some within his party, as Sabra Lane reports from Canberra.

SABRA LANE: Last night the Jakarta Post reported Indonesia's deputy agriculture minister as saying
the live cattle trade from Australia would resume in two to three weeks, and those comments were
made after a meeting with Australian officials.

The Federal Government suspended the trade to Indonesia last week, following the Four Corners
exposé, and yesterday the Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig announced a review with a preliminary
report at the of next month.

That's been perceived as an attempt to thwart today's internal party debate.

Backbenchers Kelvin Thomson and Janelle Saffin have flagged a discussion within caucus today to ban
live exports until Indonesian abattoirs meet Australian standards - not the World Organisation for
Animal Health standards known as OIE.

Animal welfare groups and some Labor insiders regard those as inferior to Australian standards.

The RSPCA agrees and it's not happy with the Government's review either. Its chief executive is
Heather Neil.

HEATHER NEIL: So we're actually asking for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss our
concerns about the investigation. In essence, the review is about shoring up the live export trade
and getting cattle onto ships to Indonesia as fast as possible.

The terms of reference as they are written at the moment, it will allow cattle to be killed just
like we've seen on television, without being stunned, so whilst fully conscious and for trade to
continue. That is unacceptable to us.

SABRA LANE: By now saying that you want to talk to the Prime Minister that obviously is a signal
that you don't have confidence in the Agriculture Minister, Joseph Ludwig?

HEATHER NEIL: Well I think that it really elevates it to the place that the Australian community
believes it needs to take.

SABRA LANE: Do you have confidence in Joe Ludwig?

HEATHER NEIL: Look we think the Australian live export trade will be condemned by history and that
the Gillard Government has a choice - they can either be remembered as the government that
supported the live export trade or it can be celebrated by the community as the one that ended it.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition's agriculture spokesman John Cobb says the trade could resume almost
immediately as he says about 10 Indonesian abattoirs already meet Australian standards.

JOHN COBB: There are abattoirs in Indonesia doing it exactly as well as what happens in Australia
and others moving towards it. The industry is trying to move the whole lot towards it and the
industry is willing to put money, time and total traceability of those animals.

We already have a system called the National Livestock Identification System. The cattle can be
barcoded as they walk onto the ships, they can be barcoded as they walk into the feed lots and they
can be barcoded when they go to the abattoirs.

SABRA LANE: And you're confident that they can be slaughtered in an acceptable manner according to
Australian standards in Indonesia?

JOHN COBB: Yes I am.

SABRA LANE: How quickly do you think that could happen?

JOHN COBB: It could virtually happen, you know, in a week. The industry is willing to do whatever
it takes to make - to satisfy auditors, to satisfy government, to satisfy the Australian population
if it comes to that. And I must add - and I'm somebody who owns cattle - and to satisfy the beef
producers that their animals are being treated properly.

TONY EASTLEY: The Opposition's agriculture spokesman John Cobb speaking there with Sabra Lane.