End The Live Export Rort: It’s Time To Put Local Jobs First

The AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW Branch is today calling on the Federal Government to urgently back away from spending taxpayer money propping up the live export trade.

Millions of dollars of government money has been poured into the live export trade in the last ten years, including as recently as last month when Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced another $8.3 million designed to improve “efficiency and competitiveness”. Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade invested $2 million in training Indonesian meat workers to process live export cattle.

Another $5 million was announced in 2011 for the Approved Supply Chain Improvements Program, while another $1.2 million was assigned to Indonesian abattoirs for the installation of cruel ‘Mark 1’  slaughter boxes that violate international animal welfare standards.

The live export industry also enjoys subsidies from the Federal Government which pay for on-board veterinarians to constantly monitor animal health and welfare, as well as lowering the cost of moving cattle between states for eventual export.

With the signing of the China Free Trade Agreement, the Federal Government has also agreed to deliver an additional one million head of live cattle every year.

Australians hear constantly from Ministers like Barnaby Joyce that live export is “an important part of Australia’s overall economy” and that it “creates jobs” — although exactly what those jobs are is never quite specified.

Shouldn’t local processing be an important part, too? We know exactly where those jobs are — they’re in the towns and cities all around Australia, working day and night to build our communities and put food on the tables of Australians.

More than 40,000 local meat working jobs have been lost in Australia since 1990, and right now, thousands of skilled, highly-trained meat workers are under-employed or have left the industry entirely due to live export taking up the available stock. Even with this downturn, the meat processing industry is still the largest manufacturing workforce in Australia at more than 55,000 workers. Isn’t that an industry worth investing in?

But it’s not just current meat workers that are suffering. The Federal Government has also been busy gutting local training and local vocational education for Australia’s youth, slashing subsidies for apprenticeships.

New figures released this month by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research show that apprenticeship and trainee numbers continue to decline, dropping every year. It’s no coincidence that numbers have continued to plummet, with the Federal Government offering no incentive for companies to take on local kids and give them the skills they need for a future.

Is it any wonder that Barnaby Joyce’s own rural electorate of Tamworth has such a staggeringly high youth unemployment rate – nearly double the national average?

The live export industry has been living the high life for too long, and the cost of that easy ride has been the future of local kids.

The Federal Government must withdraw its support for the live export industry and immediately reinvest in the training of young Australians, so that we can build a better future together.

The AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW Branch supports The Greens in their new bill prohibiting the movement of livestock outside Australia. Keeping livestock in Australia supports local jobs, and in doing so supports the future of local kids, who will be able to receive the skills and training necessary to build a great life for themselves.

We urgently call upon both the Coalition and the Labor Party to support the bill and pave the way for a sustainable future for Australian workers.

For further information:

Grant Courtney
AMIEU Newcastle & Northern NSW Branch
(02) 4929 5496