June 30, 2011

 

Australia's PM promises further help for live cattle industry

 

 

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pledged further assistance to the live cattle industry in the wake of the suspension of the trade to Indonesia, and called on banks to provide some leeway for the participants in the trade.

 

"The government is actively looking at additional measures to assist the industry during the period of the suspension and I expect to be able to have more to say about that," she told reporters on Wednesday (Jun 29) while in Darwin, where she is also attending a community cabinet meeting.

 

Gillard said the government is working with the industry and the Indonesian government to get the trade restarted "as quickly as possible", as the trade has a strong and sustainable future with the right animal welfare standards.

 

In the meantime, she urged Australian banks, particularly the four major banks, to show "the same compassion" for the industry that they showed for people affected by the Queensland floods early this year, and called on the banks to extend the same understanding to the participants in the cattle trade during the suspension.

 

On Monday (Jun 27), the government announced it would provide income assistance for workers and small business owners affected by the suspension of the trade.

 

Earlier this month, the Australian government suspended the AUD300 million (US$321 million) a year trade of live cattle with Indonesia for up to six months, following public outrage in Australia stemming from televised images of Australian cattle subjected to brutal treatment before slaughter in the Southeast Asian country.

 

"There will continue to be significant pressures on this trade," she said after meeting representatives of the cattle export industry.

 

Gillard also welcomed the announcement of a AUD5 million (US$5.35 million) animal welfare contingency fund to be provided by the industry, to address animal health or welfare issues arising as a result of the suspension of the trade.

 

The Cattle Disease Contingency Fund Trust is an established trust fund of producer levies previously collected for animal health, and its board has approved its use in the current circumstances.

 

The Trust's Chairman, Paul Saward, said the welfare of the animals stranded in pre-export facilities is of significant concern.

 

"These are difficult times," Saward said in a statement. "It is now prudent for industry funds to be made available, assisting those industry stakeholders who now own cattle during these times of great uncertainty."

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