Senate debates

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Live Animal Exports

3:49 pm

Photo of Christopher BackChristopher Back (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is not unreasonable that Senator Marshall would not understand the industry, and the words he has used indicate very clearly that he does not understand the industry. It is my regret to have to quote from a letter from a young lady, Jess Sullivan, whose father, Rohan Sullivan of Cave Creek station, is the President of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association. She said:

Yes the slaughtering was confronting, yes it was horrific, we don’t accept it, and we don’t condone it.

She goes on to say:

The Federal Government’s suspension of live export was a direct response to the reaction to the Four Corners program, and proof that agriculturalists were right to feel threatened and targeted by the ABC.

They were guests in her home, they were guests on the station. Her father appeared in the Four Corners program. She says:

I'm sure the program's makers were delighted with the interest sparked by their production, but the fallout caused by it? They cannot begin to imagine the damage they have caused. Maybe they knew that their ruthless journalism would crush my faith in the good of humanity. They exploited my family to lend their program a false 'credibility'. But did they really mean to bring an entire industry to its knees, to put us at the mercy of a government whose knee-jerk response has all but destroyed Australia's relationship with Indonesia? Or to impoverish families, some of who have now had no income since August last year? Was throwing hundreds of stations into an uncertain future, that could see three generations of some families lose everything, what they intended? Because, congratulations to them, that's what they have achieved.

Regrettably, that is what this government has achieved. We now see the shocking prospect starting tomorrow of up to 3,000 cattle on Moola Bulla station being destroyed. I hope nobody else in this chamber—I know there are one or two who have—is ever faced with the problem of having to shoot livestock. As a veterinarian associated with bushfires and other emergencies, I have. For those of you that do not understand the psychological impact that occurs to a person when they stand and shoot livestock, it is an horrific circumstance.

I feel greatly for that family on Moola Bulla and for the many other stations because these livestock now have no option but to be shot. They have no value in the south. It would be an animal welfare disaster for these cattle to be trucked to the south. They are too light for southern markets. It is too cold in the south for Bos indicus cattle to be brought down to the south. They will now go out onto the range lands and, as they get to 350 kilograms of body weight, they will be unsaleable. They cannot go away in a month or two months time because they will be unsaleable. They are the 2010 calf drop. Their mothers are due to start calving now for this year's calf drop.

If those cattle are not shot, what will happen to them? They cannot be brought south and they cannot be shipped to Indonesia. They will remain on the range lands on the stations. Their mothers, as I say, are starting to calve. That feed might not run out this year, but if we have a light rainfall year into the summer we will have no feed on the range lands this time next year. There will be more feed on this carpet than there will be on the range lands next year.

Why is Moola Bulla in this situation? Because one of the conditions of pastoral leases is that there be a certain stocking rate. If those cattle are not dispatched to Indon­esia, if they are not sold off the place, then not only will the range lands be at risk from a natural environmental disaster but also they will be at risk from the animal welfare disaster of starvation. The pastoralists, if they are still on the stations, will themselves be in the circumstance of being in default under their pastoral leases.

As I made the point before, the pastoralists on leasehold land have no equity. They have no collateral to offer to a bank. If and when they walk off their stations, they will walk off with the shirts on their backs and what they can contain in their utilities because their livestock have got no value, their leased properties have got no value and, after generations, they will leave their places with nothing. That is what will happen. That is why I begged the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry not to completely suspend this trade. The door has now been locked. The door is closed and it is all up to the Indonesians. I know this was not the minister's intention, but it is an inevitable consequence of what happened. As this lass says, she bore witness to the lies of the ABC, who deliberately misquoted the man and made him look like a fool. The ABC has some responsibility in this, and this is not the last we will hear of the ABC. (Time expired)


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