Federal Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig should resign immediately following revelations in the weekend press that he banned live cattle exports to Indonesia after ignoring his own department’s advice to work with live cattle industry to improve animal welfare standards, Country Liberals Senator Nigel Scullion said.
Senator Scullion called for Minister Ludwig to resign after ignoring the advice, which was received before ABC Four Corners aired footage of showing animals being treated inhumanely in a few Indonesian abattoirs.
According to a report in The Weekend Australian, Senator Ludwig was given advice to work with the cattle industry several weeks before the controversial Four Corners program went to air.
The documents, obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information, show that Senator Ludwig ignored his own department’s advice and, instead, caved in to public pressure and banned all live cattle exports to Indonesia.
“Many hard-working men and women, including many indigenous people, involved in the live cattle industry, are still reeling from the impact of that ill-advised knee-jerk decision,” Senator Scullion said.
The briefing notes urge the Minister to only consider harsher action, including bans, if the industry’s plan failed.
The documents also show that Department staff warned the Minister of major economic hardship for cattlemen across northern Australia if the trade was banned.
“But this incompetent minister failed to act and save the live cattle industry a world of hurt,” Senator Scullion said.
“He had the opportunity to avoid shutting down an entire industry and causing a massive loss of income for workers, cattlemen and associated businesses.
“For his failure to act and not only save jobs in the Northern Territory but also a massive loss to Australia and the Territory’s economies, the Minister should fall on his sword and resign.
“It is the least Minister Ludwig can do after doing such an abysmal job in handling such a vital issue.
“Despite the Federal Government’s compensation package, permanent damage has been done to the livelihoods of hundreds of people involved in this important export industry and the ancillary industries that depend on its viability.
“A body blow has also been dealt to Australia’s hard-won reputation as a reliable trading partner,” Senator Scullion said.
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Minister Ludwig should resign over live cattle debacle.pdf