Court hears evidence on 2011 export ban
A FEDERAL Labor minister’s decision to act indiscriminately in banning all farmers from exporting live cattle to Indonesia for six months in 2011 was not justified, a court has been told. Noel Hutley SC was giving his opening address in the Federal Court in Sydney in a class action brought by north Australian cattle farmers against the then-Labor government agriculture minister Joe Ludwig. They claim the ban cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, but the current hearing relates to the alleged liability of Mr Ludwig who, Mr Hutley said, may or may not give evidence.
The group, led by Brett Cattle Company, is alleging “misfeasance in public office” by Mr Ludwig. Mr Hutley said the issue of live exports had been controversial for many years, but became “volcanic” when an ABC Four Corners program aired footage showing the “appalling” treatment of animals in Indonesia. Mr Ludwig was familiar with the live animal industry, having a long background of involvement in rural issues, and in September 2010 told key stakeholders he had no intention of making any “drastic” changes within his portfolio, including live exports.
LIVE EXPORT: The decision to ban live export in 2011 is under the spotlight.