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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7682

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaSecond Deputy Speaker) (21:40): I rise this evening to discuss this Labor government's disastrous decision to suspend live cattle exports to Indonesia. The Labor government has spent far too long—and they are continuing to do it now—kowtowing to the interests of minority pressure groups. This is another classic example of listening to those minority pressure groups and making a disastrous decision that has ramifications right across the Top End and right across the beef industry of Australia. It has led to putting on hold our $320 million beef industry. It is an industry that employs some 13,000 Austral­ians including many Aboriginal Australians who have the dignity of a job because of the beef industry in the Top End. This govern­ment just does not care.

Mr Sidebottom interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Order! The member for Braddon will have his opportunity if he gets the call.

Mr BRUCE SCOTT: This is reflected by the comments and the interjections by the member for Braddon on the other side.

Like all Australians, I was appalled by the footage that I saw on Four Corners. I want to know from Four Corners and the ABC: when did they take that footage? My understanding is that they had that footage, not a week or so before it went to air, but months before it went to air. The producers of that episode stand condemned if they sat on something as dreadful as that vision we saw without alerting the authorities and the minister. If the minister knew about it and did nothing he also stands condemned. We want to know from the ABC: when did they take that footage, because what we saw it is not acceptable animal welfare practice. That is why we need to know from the ABC or from the minister: when was he advised?

To put that Four Corners program on and play it in the middle of the season when the Top End are mustering cattle in the cooler months, trucking them to export ports and shipping them off to Indonesia just reeks of wanting to bring the whole industry down. They put it to air right when the season of mustering and delivery of these cattle was in full swing. It is now in full halt. The truck operators and the Aboriginal workers on the stations had the dignity of a job. I would have thought those on the other side would have been sticking up for the rights of our Aboriginal people, the Indigenous people, who we know have been disadvantaged. What they need is the right to and dignity of a job, and that job now is on hold.

What have this government offered them? A Centrelink payment. They have offered $30 million for an industry that brings in $320 million a year. Furthermore, they have also insulted the Indonesian government. The Indonesian government is a very important trading partner for Australia. We export something like $10 billion worth of trade to the Indonesian people. By implic­ation and by this very ban they are saying that Indonesian government owned abattoirs in Indonesia also do not comply, when we know they do. They meet world's best practice. By saying that we are banning the export of cattle to the government owned Indonesian abattoirs as well, of which one alone processes up to 25 per cent of the live cattle exported to Indonesia, they are by implication saying that Indonesian govern­ment owned abattoirs do not comply.

Indonesia is a very important trading partner. They are our nearest neighbour, yet this government without consultation banned this live export market that families and pastoralists across the Top End have taken 20 years to establish. They look after their cattle, they breed their cattle and they care for their cattle. They should be given an opportunity to continue that trade because, if it is stopped for much longer, without resumption it will be disastrous for the Top End and it will be disastrous for the beef industry of Australia. (Time expired)