Minderoo rejects cattle plan
Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Group has distanced itself from an ambitious plan by billionaire Gina Rinehart to export about 800,000 live cattle a year to China, describing it as short-sighted.
It came as WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the State would adopt tougher livestock welfare standards, bringing them into line with the rest of Australia.
It is understood Mrs Rinehart has approached the WA, Northern Territory and Queensland Governments seeking a memorandum of understanding before taking her cattle export plan to the Federal Government.
It was reported last week some of the cattle would be sourced from Minderoo’s pastoral stations, a claim rejected by Minderoo Group.
Minderoo Group spokeswoman Tania Hudson said there had been no approach from Mrs Rinehart, and the company had no intention of supporting such a project.
Minderoo, which owns Harvey Beef, supported local processing, she said.
“It is short-sighted to regard Australia as simply a breeding ground when there is enormous potential for economic and social benefits to flow throughout regional Australia with local processing,” Ms Hudson said.
“Processing is challenging, but we are committed to the sector as employers and customers.”
New welfare standards involve the McGowan Government seeking an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2002, which will pave the way for mandatory and legally enforced welfare standards in WA, ensuring a nationally consistent approach.
National standards and guidelines for livestock transport were endorsed in 2012, but WA and the ACT are the only jurisdictions that have not yet regulated them.
The new WA standards include the use of pain relief when de-horning cattle, limiting the time in which livestock do not have access to water during transport, assessing and managing the heat load risk in feedlots and the muzzling of working dogs that habitually bite.
In WA, many of these actions are recommended rather than mandated.
Ms MacTiernan said the amendments to the Act were an important step towards taking animal welfare beyond just “prevention of cruelty” by introducing enforceable minimum standards for animal care and management.
“Strong animal welfare and productivity in the agricultural sector go hand-in-hand,” she said.
“These standards will strengthen the industry and pave the way for a sustainable sector.”
There would be more consultation with livestock industries on the approach to implementing the standards.
Gina Rinehart has an ambitious plan for a major expansion of live cattle exports to China.