Backlash over beef ban
AS LIVESTOCK manager for meat processing and exporting business Atron Enterprises in Casino, Heidi Gilliland knows a lot about the packaged beef export trade and thehumane treatment of cattle.
Ms Gilliland, of Kyogle, was among cattle producers and industry representatives at the Casino saleyards yesterday who condemned the inhumane treatment of cattle in some Indonesian abattoirs, but were worried the Federal Gov-ernment's decision to suspend live exports would impact producers and local markets.
An order suspending the $318 million-a-year live export trade to Indonesia was signed by AgricultureMinister Joe Ludwig on Tuesday, following a public outcry over the practice.
“We need to do something, they are Australian cattle,” Ms Gilliland said. “But once we leave that market it is going to be very difficult to enter it again.”
Cattle producer Richard O'Reilly, of Ettrick, said he did not agree with the practices in Indonesian abattoirs, but said the government's decision “stinks”.
“We are interfering in another country, surely there is another way around it,” Mr O'Reilly said.
While critical of the government's decision, Mr O'Reilly saved his harshest criticism for Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), which represents the industry and which collects a $5 levy for every head of cattle sold in Australian markets.
“MLA are the ones there should be an inquiry into, they do jack-....,” he said.
Mr O'Reilly's criticism of the MLA was supported by Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin, who said: “Farmers pay levies to the MLA yet so many feel they have not beenrepresented. This is a wake-up call for the Meat and Livestock Association (sic) to start representing its members.”
In a statement issued before the suspension was announced, MLA chairman Don Heatley said: “I would like to apologise to the Australian livestock industry and the broader community for the hurt and anger caused by the recent footage of horrendous acts of cruelty to our cattle in Indonesia.
Following the government's decision, he stated: “The decision gives industry sufficient time to implement a controlled system, which will ensure the appropriate treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia.”