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Government & industry agree on live animal export charge.

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DAFF04/007WT - 30 January 2004

Government & industry agree on live animal export charge

The Government and Australia's live animal export industry have agreed on levy arrangements to cover the costs associated with resolving the recent Cormo Express incident, Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

Mr Truss said the decision follows the successful placement in Eritrea in October of the MV Cormo Express's live sheep consignment - a consignment that was originally rejected by Saudi Arabian authorities in August.

"As part of its efforts to resolve this difficult and highly sensitive issue, the Australian Government purchased the sheep on the industry's behalf and, with Meat and Livestock Australia and other industry members, undertook extensive international consultations to find a suitable destination for the sheep," Mr Truss said.

"Australia also provided veterinary, feed and infrastructure support in a move that was strongly welcomed by the government and the people of Eritrea.

"This meant, however, that the Government and Australia's red meat industry incurred significant costs. Both parties have agreed that these costs should be recovered from exporters of live cattle (excluding dairy), sheep and goats destined for slaughter.

"From 1 March 2004, a charge on exporters will be imposed and will remain in place until all the costs associated with the Cormo incident have been recovered. The charges will be set at a rate of $1.50 a head for cattle, 60 cents a head for sheep and lambs, and 40 cents a head for goats."

Mr Truss said that, although the Cormo costs were incurred for a live sheep shipment, he accepts the industry view that the charges should apply also to other live export animals.

"Some of the costs, particularly those of an administrative nature, will be met by the Government and will not be included in the amount recouped through the charge."

Mr Truss said the Government opted for an early introduction of the charges to ensure the costs are repaid as quickly as possible, and the industry can plan for the future.

"The Cormo Express incident has highlighted a number of issues affecting the ongoing success of this valuable trade - issues that are being reconsidered following the review headed by Mr John Keniry," he said.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Kathy Tricolas - 02 6277 7520 or 0412 929 191