Australia’s live export producers have just launched a law suit seeking an incredible $600 million in damages from the Federal Government.
In July of 2011, all live export trade to Indonesia was halted for six weeks after the ABC’s Four Corners program aired horrific footage of Australian animals being mistreated in Indonesian abattoirs.
Now the live exporters say they need to be compensated for those six weeks and that a fair price would be $600 million – $100 million for every week they couldn’t ship to Indonesia.
Surely they can’t be serious?
The live export industry has spent years undermining and destroying the local meat processing industry. They have never once acknowledged the devastation caused to communities all around Australia by their need to grab a quick profit.
Thanks to live exports, Australian meat workers have been suffering from the death of a thousand cuts as more and more cattle are siphoned away from local processing and sent overseas. More than 40,000 meat working jobs have disappeared since 1990, and tens of thousands of meat workers are underemployed today across the country because the cattle simply aren’t there.
An industry propped up by the public
Doesn’t the live export industry get enough handouts from the Federal Government? Australia’s politicians are more than willing to bend over backwards for this cruel, parasitic industry, whether it’s spending public money propping them up or signing free trade agreements which will keep them rich for years to come.
The live export industry enjoys lowered tariffs which make it easier to move cattle around, millions of dollars in funding boosts to help them with buzzwords like “competitiveness”, and even skills training packages for overseas meat workers to help them process the Australian cattle once they’ve arrived.
In fact, when the live export ban was in place, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced an incredible $30 million assistance package which was then increased by another $70 million (in addition to $3 million in income support and $8 million for stranded animal care!).
That’s more than $100 million of support, the kind of support that local meat workers have never been offered in all the years that the live export industry has been bleeding them dry.
Now the live exporters want another $600 million on top of all that?
The industry was only valued at $320 million in June of 2011, half of the amount being sought as compensation!
The live export rort
“This is nothing short of rank hypocrisy from a super-rich industry of high-earning, tax-dodging millionaires,” says AMIEU Newcastle & Northern Secretary Grant Courtney.
“They ship their cattle off overseas in cramped terrible conditions on leaky ships stocked by underpaid visa workers, deliver them to overseas abattoirs where they are horribly treated, and pocket the massive profits – all the while helping themselves to millions in government handouts.”
“It’s not like live exports to the Middle East or other places stopped during those six weeks – Indonesia was the only place banned, and the live export trade continued on. Thanks to government subsidies and rich lobbyists, it’s now bounced back and continues to destroy Australian meatworking jobs.”
“Live export is just a modern-day pyramid scheme – designed to make a small amount of people very rich while a lot of other people lose out. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Australian meat workers, their families and their communities are suffering. It’s unacceptable and it’s disgusting.”
“It is outrageous to me that these live exporters can demand $100 million for every week that they weren’t allowed to ship to Indonesia, while local meat workers earning an average of $40,000 a year are losing their homes.”
“Our Government needs to support local jobs, build local communities, and be thinking about local futures – not propping up this pyramid scheme with even more public money.”