Mr Wilkie has been quoted in this article as of 21st June 2014
My comment I have made on that article is fairly self explanatory.
Well there’ s your reason right there you don’t bloody well listen. I was also at that meeting and I told you LE didn’t cannibilise the meat processing sector remember the map I showed you with over 10 abattoirs on it in the NT and across the north of Australia. I told you why they closed, costs and ending of BTEC, Katherine was only paying $50 a head, freight killed it when it couldn’t get cargo of its product to Darwin at its previous 5c/kg and then went to 40c/kg to get to Brisbane. The introduction of Ausmeat standards shut down the Korean markets. You didn’t bloody listen. Now Mr Wilkie your saying cattle exporters are responsible for sheep and visa versa, while we may support each others industries it doesn’t mean they all have the same issues and problems but your speaking in generalisations and assumptions, again absolute rubbish.
You say things are worse – HOW! Indonesia now stunning 90%, you were told this you didn’t listen! Vietnam now building feedlots only for Australian cattle all to be stunned – you were told this have your forgotten. Regulations are not ignored they are strictly adhered to with exporters self reporting. You told us you were extremely worried about the monopoly of the Woolworths / Coles now your saying they are paying more. Now your lying! I kept notes of that meeting Mr Wilkie, you have a lousy memory. AACo abattoir will be processing cull animals not those suited to LE, its taken nearly 10 years to get going (with only $2.5M from government) has cost $90M to build. Mr Wilkie you are dreaming if you think any government or even private enterprise is going to build another 6 abattoirs in Australia.
AAco’s has been the first cattle processing plant in over 50 years. Of course assuming that producers can supply the animals required, of course do you expect us to give them away, much is made of the capacity but you don’t seem to realise the abs in QLD are 3 months booked out. In WA you expect producers to hold sheep at over 50c a day to just keep supply consistent. You aren’t looking for ways to improve, if you were you wouldn’t be so quick to overlook King Island abattoir closure because JBS choose too, you know the little island that is actually part of Tasmania. You fail to recognise that Tasmania itself is reliant of the live transport of sheep and cattle across the Tasman to be processed in Victoria because Tasmania processing is twice as much as any one else. Do you need reminding that LE out of the NT alone is worth consistently twice of what Tasmania produces in total red meat production. Live export may be unimportant to you Mr Wilkie but shock horror, is vital to us. Shame you couldn’t have spent more than 24 hours in the the NT when you actually did your gracious visit.
The original Post of ‘Wake up Wilkie’ as I wrote 24th February 2014.
There are some things that you should never do in this country because they are just plain dumb, one is drive on boggy muddy wet roads in the wet season the other is ban live export. The first is what I did, my husband and I left our property at 5am one morning after receiving rain and slogged our way through 120km of mud, slush and $h!T, taking 2.5 hrs as top speed was spinning wheels going sideways. We then drove to Darwin, another 6 hours, I allowed hubbie half an hour in each of his shops he needed, as thats all we had time for. The next morning we left Darwin at 5am and drove to Batchalor about 120km south of Darwin and another 80 odd kilometres on a crazyly windy road to a property near the Litchfield national park.
Why, because I wanted to meet Mr Andrew Wilkie face to face who wants to ban live export, not that I was going to change his mind I knew that but I wanted to tell him why processing in the NT had failed producers previously and why live export was such a vital link to us now. Other producers were there, we explained how stopping Live export would destroy us and our families, we gave our views on various improvements and problems of live export. There were people there that worked in Indonesia, that had worked on the ships he met local indigenous people and those of us who are small producers to some who represent our industry groups and the much larger organisations.
Andrew Wilkie struck me as genuinely wanting to improve animal welfare, it wasn’t a nasty, heated meeting, it was people talking who had very distinct points of view I felt he listened, he looked at you when he spoke and he explained some of his reasoning and intentions politely and clearly. We all tried to do the same, in the approximate 1 hour we had.
But he obviously has little understanding of the past meat processing in Australia or its current situation and I don’t think he appreciated the impact banning live export will have on future operations of properties involved with live export.
To try to put into perspective the value of the live cattle export and importance production of cattle in the Territory I made up the following chart of only the NT animals. It is information taken from waybills supplied to me by the DPI of only cattle sourced from the NT. I used it to correlate the value of $FOB of only NT cattle and to give a very broad estimate of processed cattle. While the $FOB is reasonably accurate the processed value would vary widely and therefore needs to be looked at very loosely.
When I spoke to Mr Wilkie I hoped he would see perspective, from the other producers, from the workers in the industry, but I also wanted to show him relative to Tasmania what he is actually asking. That being, to ban live exports for all Australian cattle will in the NT cause the degradation of a cattle industry at gate value worth easily twice as much as his own state’s whole beef production at processed value in Tasmania.
Now add to this the problems that Tasmania have with its processors in monopolising the meat production sector there Longford abattoir (Tas) and the fact that Tasmania has lost the processing capacity of abattoirs recently in King Island (Tas) and I had to wonder at the hypocrisy of Mr Wilkie coming to the NT to tell us to do more meat processing when his own states can’t be said to be running too well. In 1987 Tasmania had 5 large processors, 4 of which were domestic and 40 small processors who were doted all over the country doing mainly service kill.
My best guess is now they have 4 large processors (2 owned by JBS), 3 being export, 1 is domestic with only a handful of small service kill operators still working, I only managed to find several but a 2001/2002 government report said the 40 small fellas had dropped to 29.
Now Mr Wilkie’s own state is actually quiet reliant on live export of animals, mainly to the mainland but they do on occassion export a small number of cattle via the mainland to overseas facilities. My question is this and it’s not easily defined in the previous Bills Wilkie has presented. Is the banning of live export to overseas destinations just a stepping stone for banning of live export of his own producers animals to the mainland eventually? Tasmania send about 50,000 cattle and 300,000 sheep a year to be mainly processed in Victoria. Why because it is half the cost to process in Victoria as it is in Tasmania.
In fact Tasmanian abattoirs have even imported animals to keep processing lines working in past years to enable operating efficencies to be maintained. So Tasmania has cost of production issues in a big way in its processing sector, I think most across Australia would have, but whats Mr Wilkies plan if Tasmanian’s can’t keep those costs in competition down against other processors in Australia. I wonder what his plan is to maintain his own state’s capacity and ability to process?
Surely Mr Wilkie is aware of these problems in his own state, surely he’s not that asleep at the wheel to realise that animal production is at a cross roads in Australia and while it is important we improve Australian meat processing, banning live export and undermining the supply of animals will not do it. Stopping live export will undermine the national herd numbers, do that and the processors will end up with even less cattle.
While talking with Mr Wilkie he was shown a map of the NT, with no less than 10 varied sized abattoirs in the NT at different stages of the last 40 years. All except one is now finished, but its been mothballed and while the AAco abattoir is great and currently being built it has never been intended to be a replacement to live export.
In 1995 producers were being paid $50 a head for delivered animals to the abattoir in Wydham and Katherine, Does Mr Wilkie think going back to these prices if feasible, let alone sustainable!
Mr Wilkie Live export didn’t develope across the north because it was the first idea to strike the producers it developed because our meat processing facilities couldn’t compete in cost and efficency, Now you want us to go back to that. Do politicans really expect producers to give their cattle away and survive, on what! Tasmania is possibly where the Territory was 15 years ago,Cost of production is beginning to be catastrophic on profitability. Tasmanian processors have had to adapt and improve and innovate to stay in business, Territory ones choose to close and the producers of the time left with nothing concentrated on Live export.
Wake up Mr Wilkie, what you are doing is not helping any one or anything, so cut the crap and stop wasting parlimentary time and get on with running the country, or may I suggest your part of it atleast. You have some great processors and producers in your state get out there and help them out and stop trying to ride the coat tails of these animal liberation groups.
Footnote – Left the meeting and drove nearly 700km home again through some serious storms to get home at midnight.