‘WAKE UP’ Wilkie

Mr Wilkie has been quoted in this article as of 21st June 2014
http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/you-cant-keep-hiding-the-ugly-truth/story-fnj4f64i-1226961768642

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.

NT earnings _edited-1Chart 1 – NT Cattle earnings production to Live export and to processors /backgrounding in other states.

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.

compare NT to Tas._edited-1 Chart 2. Comparing the gate value of cattle production in the NT to the processed value of beef 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.

Further reading. ‘Wilkie v’s live exports enters round 4’ James Nason. Beef Central 25.02.14

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Categories: Advocacy, Animal Welfare, Australian abattoirs, Beef Industry, Katherine, Live Exports, Northern Territory., Politicians | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “‘WAKE UP’ Wilkie

  1. Yvonne

    well said Jo. I do hope he really was listening to you and not off in lala land…..

  2. Colin Brett

    Jo, you are a champion! Let’s hope that commen sence wins in the end. Well done Jo.

  3. Alf Collins Sr

    Onya Jo.
    This week, cows quoted at &1.65/kg carcase at Teys Wagga.
    Same cows $2.65 at Teys Rockhampton.
    How are the quotes running in Tas?
    Long live live export; without it there is no beef industry in Aust, period.
    Best regards,
    Alf Collins CBV, Marlborough, Qld

  4. Stephen Ellison

    In my working life I have seen 16 meat works close North of the Tropic of Capricorn the only reason they closed was they didn’t make money.
    without the live export trade you would see just how benevolent the meat companies are.

  5. Outback witness

    28 Australian investigations throughout Islamic countries reveals the shocking complicity of graziers – terrified animals being bashed, hit, thrown, whipped, water-boarded, and electrocuted with prods up the anus and in the eyes and face before suffering a horrific death. Eyes and flanks of bellowing cattle are stabbed; blunt knives hack at the throats of fully conscious animals, time and time again. That is the status quo but you know that.

    Will you publish these irrefutable facts?

    More than 2.6 million animals overboard while little children die of starvation by the wayside. There is no apology. Chilled and frozen meats are exported to the middle east and Asia yet you are trafficking in live sentient animals that experience pain and terror. There is no apology.

    Your industry is cruel and corrupt – brutes for brutes, aided and abetted by a shabby (though temporary) assortment of Ministers for Torture Your indecent industry makes a mockery of all state and territory Animal Welfare Acts. A compassionate Australian public is well aware that your heinous industry operates above the laws of the land. The shocking abuse of these wretched animals commences with the mustering for export. It is unforgivable and shameless and should not be tolerated in a humane society. I trust Ma Nature is plotting her revenge for those who believe they have a divine right to torment her defenceless subjects.

  6. 28 investigations! by a vegan organisation intent on destroying Australian animal production, hardly impartial! children starving! atleast my cattle are feeding some of them. The reason I let this comment up? Because like nearly all animal right activisum its nameless baseless and preached from a pedestal as self rightous zealot. Outback witness your comment says more about you than me and is the reason I write about the right to conduct agriculture. thankyou.

  7. traudy

    I couldn’t agree with you more Out back witness!

  8. traudy

    We are talking about making positive changes to how these consumed animals are treated, considered and slaughtered! No one wants to put farmers out of business! By keeping the animals here for slaughter there are clear advantages for farmers, producers and the economy. This cruel trade can be phrased out. A transition over time would allow farmers to adjust their businesses and restructure their herds. Appropriate government structural assistance is needed for this restructuring to occur successfully along with the will and commitment of farmers, producers, truck drivers, stock men, shearers, etc involved.
    Why can this not be considered?
    Live export has no place or future in the 21st century. It is primitive, barbaric and financially unpredictable. Not all people feel the need to eat animal flesh, for those that do, I’m certain most would not condone any form of cruelty to the animal, particularly when it is unnecessary and can be avoided.

  9. Traudy you think I condone cruelty just because I send cattle to LE, I most certainly do not. I would love to have our animals processed here and jobs kept in Australia but our processing sector is finding it increasingly difficult to mainly competitiveness. You seem to think it is so simple to ‘transition’ if it is not profitable then it will never happen. simple at that. We have made incredible positive changes to animal welfare in live export, what a shame you don’t appreciate that, Do you think Australian systems have no fatalities did you not notice the drought, floods and fires of recent months. Jo

  10. traudy

    Hello Jo, thank you for taking the time out to respond to my thoughts.
    I appreciate hearing what you have to say on the subject, given you yourself are at the heart of it.
    I believe natural disasters are just that,( this can also be debated but that’s not the topic here) they are natural occurrences due to a combination universal responses. I have and do notice these occurrences and wonder whether the earth/ nature are trying to tell us something, who knows?? What I do know is that LE is one of many, man made greed driven industries. Where ethic’s are set aside and ignorance is a dollar bliss.ESCAS has failed our animals, failed us and will continue to fail,if your referring to the so called reforms on animal welfare as positive, I’m sorry, I disagree with you. In a self regulated industry do you really expect care over profit? It is us humans that are the problem.
    There are many wrongs for us to fight, lots of ongoing evils in this world, but nothing breaks my spirit more than profiteering from cruelty of the vulnerable and defenseless, these being animals and children. I sympathize with you knowing you don’t condone cruelty and you would welcome a change to have your livestock processed here,forgive my ignorance, when you say competitiveness in the processing sector, could you elaborate on this please.
    I am under the understanding that our chilled frozen market is far more economically valuable and rices for sheep ( cattle?) are similar across Australia regardless of exposure to the LE trade.
    Jo, I do all I can to create public awareness on this matter. I write to my local MP, to Senators and Ministers alike. I’m trying to understand why this ongoing travesty of LE continues? It’s been 30 years of unnecessary suffering, I want it to stop! Also I want whats right for our farmers to live good life away from LE.

    Will you make a stand and demand the government do its civic duty to look after you and the fate of your animals? I will support, write and lobby with you all.It would be a pleasure!
    Regards,

    traudy

  11. Alex

    We heard that you drove over 180kilms to ‘just drop in’ on the meeting. Smacks of desperation. Go Andrw Wilkie!!

  12. Shayne

    “My comment I have made on that article is fairly self explanatory.” It might be with punctuation and a spell check. As is, its unintelligible. But I see from the comments the usual redneck roundup is cheering her on.

  13. Firstly – why don’t you use a real name? This is only an opinion blog for goodness sake, its doesn’t have a wide reading and you can’t even use a real name!
    The fact where Mr Wilkie lives is extremely relevant as an a number of occasions he has referred to the live export trade as ‘insignificant’, not words of a politician who I think deserves any respect what so ever.
    As for weaning off live export, no it is not cruel. Live export was developed because the meat prcessing facilities in Northern Australia failed, if you would like to go visit my other blog site http://www.australianabattoirs.wordpress.com you may like to look at Katherine, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Mudginberri, Broome or Wyndham you would see the many difficulties faced in the operation of abattoirs in the north.
    I’m intriged – who are these other forms of livestock farms that used to do Live export but don’t now and still produce animals, please be specific I genuinely would like to know where they are located.
    I doubt very much you have any idea what would involve the closing of Live export, it would destroy my family, its life and our business, much of the community and many other services and professions. As for your comment you not sure even if my concerns are accurate but animals shouldn’t suffer. They are very accurate, and my animals don’t suffer, they are required to die to be eaten. They are treated with respect and extremely high regard for their welfare, this doesn’t mean at times they don’t feel pain or they are completely protected but when I send animals to LE i am assured they are pre stunned prior to slaughter and I speak with the people who are involved with their handling and treatment, pre-export and on the ships and feel comfortable that all is done to ensure their best welfare is targeted. Jo

  14. Shayne

    Does the prestunning involve cutting the vertebrae with a knife before bashing its face off with a sledgehammer, as was done in Vietnam, Jo? Or do you prefer the methods used in Gaza, Jordan, Pakistan, Mauritius, Egypt etc etc? We’ve all seen the evidence, there’s mountains of it and its disgusting to most decent people. But I doubt you care because for you animals are only $$$$$.

  15. Shayne, what a shame you had to cloud your question with a personal attack! My concern with Vietnam is their poor history of animal welfare in general, I do care a great deal about my animals and their welfare and you have no right to say otherwise because you have no fact of my cattle, their origin or destinations. I agree that the sledgehammer and face bashing is completely unacceptable. I do believe Australia can influence better animal welfare by doing what some exporters are now doing and that is combining their efforts with local companies, both directly and financially to assist and dictate animal welfare practices at where our cattle are received and processed. The exporter I sell through assures me they pre stun all cattle sent to Vietnam as are any cattle I send to Indonesia. ESCAS doesn’t guarantee 100% stunning but as a matter of animal welfare the exporter we sell to do 100% stunning with electric or knocker, My husband and family decided after the 2011 ban we would actively support those exporters who pre stun and avoid those who won’t tell us what they do or we don’t know. Vietnam importers as have many Indonesian facilities have embraced stunning as it has improved efficiency and OH & S. Majority of Australian stock sent to Vietnam are killed for local meat consumption. One particular importer in Vietnam has built a specific feedlot that will only process Australian cattle, It is still awaiting ESCAS approval. It was imperative that it met ESCAS standards but this business owns other feedlots and abattoirs and all cattle are stunned. The people I talk to regarding our cattle say yes initially the Vietnamese and Indonesian people didn’t understand the requirements or processes of ESCAS or why we wanted them implemented that is improving and is spoken to me often by people who are on the ground and in these countries. I don’t regard the number of reports or complaints as a true indication of what is going on the ground, I talk to the people that handle our cattle.
    In regards to the sledgehammer killings (June 2013)that supply chain to those facilities has been removed from that exporters line. Some animals were identified as stolen. I’m not defending the actions just saying that no 100% guarantee through ESCAS can be assured as 100% of animal welfare can be assured in Australia. Another Vietnam report was by the exporters themselves and was simply an oversight, the abattoirs had previously been approved, all used stunning but hadn’t been included in that supply chain procedure. This is major issue with ESCAS where excessive reporting procedures are flagging issues that aren’t there. There are currently 2 investigations not finalised for Vietnam, both self reported, I’ll wait to see the reports before I make my view on them. Jo.

  16. No name indicates to me you fear really backing up what you say. I never write anything without others knowing who I am. Your lack of industry knowledge is illustrated by the fact you over estimate the power that producers have with processors – go have a look on the east coast, largest overseas owned – 3-4 months out fully booked but won’t process 24/7. If you believe Australian meat processing will be viable for all processors then it really shows how little you understand the Australian beef industry. Just for the record I strongly support the AACo abattoir in Darwin, I’m all for their facility being profitable but it is intended to process cull animals and is yet to prove itself. I’m not denying there has been cruelty at all and certainly want to see good animal welfare. The fact is you don’t seem to understand that without live export and income earning capability and profitability there will be no good animal welfare in Australia, we’ll simply not be able to afford the vaccinations, supplementations and handling equipment that we require. Unless of course your ultimate goal is stopping animal production. Is that way you aspire too? Jo

  17. traudy

    Yes, no more needs to said. I live in hope and back it with strong activism that one day all human beings will realize that animals are not ours to do what we want with or to them, they belong to this earth as free living non human beings.

  18. Shayne

    Jo, isn’t it true that you drove 120km to harass Andrew Wilkie at his meeting outside Darwin and then you said you just ‘happened to be passing’ ? Andrew thinks you are funny too. Btw, ALEC Chair Peter Kane was interviewd at the time saying that the invitation to Wilkie was withdrawn. (ABC Country Hour. ) Your credibility has a serois gap.

  19. I’m sure he does.

  20. Alex

    Your animals don’t suffer? Because that’s what the exporters tell you? And please answer the question. Do you plan to send your cattle to Egypy? Or indeed China or Mauritius? Wecan’s posting is very incisive. You want to undermine Wilkie because he is so far ahead of you, in integrity, honour ,,, and intelligence. You people massacred the processing industry without a thought for the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families, but you squeal when you are threatened with the same. One day we will look at this filthy trade with the same horror and disgust as we now regard the slave trade and the holocaust.

  21. Hello Alex. No we’re not sending cattle to Egypt, highly unlikely China due to the types they are looking for and I’ve never looked in to sending cattle to Mauritius therfore also highly unlikely. No our animals don’t suffer, I ask agents, handlers and exporters about them and attempt to follow them by keeping in contact with exporters. I most certainly didn’t undermine the processing industry and if you cared to look at the blogsite I am developing http://www.australianabattoirs.wordpress.com you would see processors in Australia have many varied and difficult problems to overcome, only one of them is animal supply and often not the most important, actually that would be costs of operation. While many think producers control processors it is very much the other way around the power is in processors hands as to what they purchase, process and pay. Neither us or they control markets, demand, even the Australian dollar value yet again these are significant factors in the red meat industry markets including export where the majority of our meat goes. Live export is so important because without competition processors would be paying even less for cattle than what they are now. No-one controls the ultimate which is the weather and many abattoirs cite drought and inconsistency of supply due to drought as their number one problem, that and labour. You forget I supply mainly feeder animals not slaughter they are not the same type of animal. Cattle herd has relatively unchanged over the last 20 years, the sheep herd has drastically, wool crashed in the early 90’s and that halved the National sheep herd, that is what has affected many processors. It is extremely well documented that over capitilisation and under utilisation was a major factor in the 80’s and many abattoirs had to close. It wouldn’t have mattered if animals were in great supply and free they cost too much to run. One day we will look at this trade and recognise it for saving the red meat industry in Australia for the fact it underpins the cattle prices and without live export the Australian cattle herd would in fact be 6 million head less than what it is now. By the way most sheep exported are weathers and not the desired types such as lamb for most Australian requirements.
    For the record if you want to converse I have no problems debating with you as long as you state your points clearly and decent but if you want to do personal attacks then go somewhere else. I’m not going to stop animal production, stop eating animals or use them to make money. So like it or lump it. If you don’t like my blog don’t read it. Have a nice day.Jo

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