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Jul 6, 2011

Northern cattle, you can’t sell them, you can’t shoot them.

The governments live cattle export ban was a knee jerk reaction by a cabinet that has no business, or real world experience. The result is a dogs breakfast with tens of thousands of cattle in yards across the north with nowhere to go, graziers with no income, a furious trading partner, and the impending deaths by starvation of thousands of stock that can’t be sold.

Nico Botha purchased his property in March with an order from the Pastoral Lands Board of WA to dramatically cut stock numbers over the next three years was a condition of sale. As he is unable to sell them and unwilling to see them starve he intends to cull 3000 head. This has sent Gillard and Co into hysterics:
THE Gillard government was last night trying to stop a West Australian pastoralist shooting his cattle.

Nico Botha had claimed the ban on live exports to Indonesia had forced him to kill the animals himself. "It's either that or they will starve, and I won't let that happen," said Mr. Botha, of Moola Bulla station near Halls Creek, 700km east of Broome.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig's office said last night he had secured assurances from the WA government that the cattle would not be shot. But Mr. Botha said he had given no such assurance, except that he would not do it in front of television cameras. "It was not my intention to turn this into a media circus," he said.

Senator Ludwig told question time he had alerted the Cattle Council of Australia and asked that Mr. Botha be contacted by Centrelink and "see what assistance is available" to the pastoralist.
Great, they can give him the dole. A Territory veterinary surgeon, Gehan Jayawardhana warned Gillard that at least 25,000 cattle would die as a result of the ban, but now believed that figure to be higher:
The main problem was pastoralists would not be able to afford to muster when among other things they take calves off mothers. Calves had to be weaned because there was not enough feed for both to survive in arid regions such as the Kimberley.

"When they get too skinny to stand up, they fall over in creek beds and they cannot get up. It takes about a week to die. It's absolutely horrendous, crows pick at them and dingoes also start surrounding them," he said. "It's horrific. People don't understand how horrific this is."
Meanwhile cattlemen appear to be about to pay heavily for this stupidity:
Indonesia's Minister for Agriculture, H.E. Suswono, is close to determining the fate of the Australian cattle industry. It looks like we will be paying an enormous price for the arrogance the federal government has shown towards our nearest neighbour, Indonesia. And Australia is now seen in the region as a country that carries sovereign risk. …
Suswono and Indonesia were just as appalled as Australians at the killing practices that were revealed in the Four Corners program. Suswono is a good minister and we needed to work with him to solve the problem. There is little doubt it would have been fixed because it was an isolated incident. Instead, without any consultation with Indonesia, we banned live cattle exports near the most sensitive time on the Muslim calendar, Ramadan. Suswono was justifiably very angry. 

As a result, much of Indonesia now looks set not to have beef during and after Ramadan but unless there is a last minute back-down, they seem prepared to pay that price to teach Australians to respect their nation. 

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet must have realised when they banned the cattle exports to Indonesia that it was likely that some cattle would have to be shot. But cattle shootings actually obscure a much deeper tragedy for Australia. It's likely that the vast majority of the cattle will simply not be mustered and will eventually become feral, doing damage to inland Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. And it's not just the cattle stations that will suffer huge losses. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sub-contractors who will likely see their businesses bankrupted.

The cattle industry has been a major employment area for Aboriginal communities. This will set back Aboriginal employment progress a long way. …


  1. The law of unintended consequences - Canberra didn't write it and can't repeal it, and like all such places it regularly forgets that it can't simply ignore it either. Sadly the consequences generally affect other people, and there's not even much point suing the federal government over poor decisions since they'll only tax you or your children to pay any compensation. What's needed is for ministers and public servants to be personally and financially liable. Of course even the most egregious nest-feathering pollies aren't wealthy enough to compensate fully from their own pockets, so the idiots responsible for stuffing up entire industries would be permanently bankrupted before even a fraction of the damage they cause could be paid for. But the idea of bankruptcy that has no hope of ever being discharged ought to focus a few minds.

  2. Quite right. I note that today the minister has announced that exports can continue,with limitations.

    The trouble is that a few days ago, Indonesia revoked all import licences, and that may take some time to resolve. Generally, when we upset one of our major trading partners to the north, it costs us a shitload to repair the damage.

    The stupidity of their actions would not be so bad it they had at least had the common sense to abide by protocols.

  3. And now ALP backbenchers are kicking up even about the limitations, saying that when Indonesia buys animals they should be slaughtered the same was as we do it here. It's almost as if they think the Indonesians having basically given us the flick by revoking import permits was completely irrelevant. Meanwhile I'm going to get on with my campaign to have full legal restrictions placed on the export of Holden's to Alpha-Centurai.

    WV="zoopat". I'm convinced Google's software is developing sentience and a sense of humour.

  4. It was probably a bad idea to have a union official in a position to influence bilateral relations, especially in the area of trade. I hope Rudd can sort it out.

    The problem is though, Rudd blamed his fluffed tweet in which he congratulated the Broncos on winning State of Origin on jet lag. As it was done on Wednesday night, and his last trip was from Burma with a three and a half hour time difference was on Sunday, I'm not optimistic.