AGRICULTURE Minister David Littleproud says the cost of having government observers on live export boats will be money well spent insuring the future of the vital industry.
In a very well received address to the Rural Press Club in Brisbane, Mr Littleproud said observers would be on cattle or sheep boats by the end of October.
“I need truth and proof on those boats,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I don’t want to have an incident in cattle live exports as we did in the sheep, because that will be the end of us. We have to be proactive.”
Mr Littleproud dismissed claims that the government observers would cost too much money.
“Let me put this in perspective,” he said. “A cattle boat going into Indonesia is about a 10 day voyage. An independent observer will cost $1200-$1300 a day.
“So it is 15 grand to put observer in there, taking photos, making sure we have truth and proof in this industry. For a total shipment cost of $2-$3 million is not a big investment. That’s insurance for the livelihoods of particularly those farmers in northern Australia.”
He said the cost of an observer on a sheep boat undertaking a 23 day voyage would be about on $30,000.
“When it’s $10-$12 million shipment costs that is three parts of bugger all.”
Mr Littleproud said is was simplistic to suggest all cattle and sheep should be processed in Australia. The loss of the live export trade would costs Australia $300 million a year, and 10,000 jobs.
“I have to protect this industry, and I have to protect the livelihoods of those farmers and their communities,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I don’t resile from that and I know I’m going to make enemies. But I don’t care. Because those people in regional and rural Australia, those farmers, deserve confidence they can get up in the morning and make a dollar.
“This government will never ban the export of live animals to any nation in this world. We’re going to keep doing it and we’re going to do it right.”