By Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon
The Julia Gillard Government is facing another attack from the Opposition. This time, it is all about live cattle exports.
Australian beef exports to Indonesia will be cut off by half in 2012 to stop animal cruelty in exchange for bucks.
The Indonesian agriculture ministry has confirmed its plans to reduce cattle import quota from around 520,000 heads to 280,00 next year, Sky News reported.
The reduction will hurt the cattle industry of the Northern Territory, but Animal Australia, an animal advocacy group, said that the decision by the Indonesian authority should teach cattle exporters a lesson. The group said Aussie animals should not be transported overseas only to be consciously slaughtered.
Sky News reported a statement by executive director Glenys Oogjes stating that the Indonesian market is not an isolated case. She explained that an increasing number of animals were exported to overseas markets such as the Middle East, Egypt and Turkey “where, like Indonesia, animals are permitted to be brutally slaughtered while fully conscious.”
The ABC in May-June showed a series of cattle being slaughtered in Indonesian abattoirs which alerted the Julia Gillard Government to intervene against the brutal treatment of exported animals.
A temporary ban on cattle exports followed and was resumed after a new bilateral agreement was reached between Australia and Indonesia.
However, the Indonesian Government was not encouraged by the interruption. Instead, it engineered a way to elude Aussie beef imports by declaring that it is implementing a policy towards self-sufficiency. Liberal National Party Leader Warren Truss admitted: “The Indonesian government has retaliated by accelerating moves towards self-sufficiency.”
An Indonesian spokesperson diplomatically responded by saying that the reduction of live cattle imports “is based on the latest census of domestic cattle available for slaughter in Indonesia.”
The spokesperson noted that Indonesia has increased its stocks to about 14.4 million – well in excess of the 14.2 million making Indonesia on the way to beef self-sufficiency.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott blamed Julia Gillard to have bungled the live cattle exports in which livelihood of many Northern Territory farmers are dependent on. After visiting the Northern Territory, he said Gillard sent the wrong person to the cattle exports negotiation table. He said it was wrong for Gillard to have sent the “incompetent” Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig. Abbott is convinced the job should have been given to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.