14 July 2015: Responding to today’s news that Indonesia will only take 50,000 head of cattle this quarter instead of the 200,000 head rumoured, Federal Member for Kennedy and KAP Leader Bob Katter said his warnings to the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in March this year had unfortunately proven correct.
In March Mr Katter asked a question of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Parliament warning the Government to proceed with caution, lest the relationship with Indonesia be jepordised.
Mr Katter asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs “First Australians found that friction causes fire. Northern Cattleman got burnt, who next Minister?”.
The 50,000 import permits from Indonesia for Australian Live Cattle is less than half of the Quarter 3 (Q3) average over the past five years and less than a quarter of 200,000 head widely rumoured for Q3.
“In my lifetime I have never seen a Government go out of its way to provoke its neighbor as much as the ALP and LNP Governments in Australia.
“Elements of the Australian media indulge themselves making an issue of two drug traffickers and the Australian Government may have won themselves some votes, but it was at the expense of the Australian farmers.
“The most vulnerable people in the Australian economy, the poor Australian cattle farmer, has taken the hit once again,” Mr Katter said.
In 2011 the Gillard Government made the disastrous decision to ban live cattle exports to Indonesia which resulted in Indonesia dramatically reducing the live cattle quota.
In addition to a more respectful relationship with our neighbours, Mr Katter believes Australia needs a stronger Defence Force in line with the advice of Theodore Roosevelt who stated, ‘I walk softly, but I carry a big stick’.
“My recommendation to the Prime Minister and the alternate Prime Minister, is to have a decent Defence Force instead of the mockery we have at the moment. You keep putting our country in jeopardy, not just economically, how much offence do you think our neighbours will take?
“Currently our leaders have loud mouths, but they have no stick at all – our defence is a joke.
“Last time we went to war with Indonesia Australia had 1.3 million semi-automatic rifles, now we have 50,000. Good luck Prime Minister if you keep shooting your mouth off,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter’s electorate of Kennedy is one of the biggest beef producing areas in Australia and heavily reliant on the live cattle market to Indonesia.
Since the live export ban Mr Katter and northern cattlemen have continued to push to restore the market and restore relations with Indonesia, including numerous meetings with the Indonesian Ambassador, conversations with then Prime Minister Rudd prior to his meetings in Indonesia with the President and hosting the Indonesian Ambassador in the Gulf of Carpentaria to see first-hand live cattle export facilities and cattle stations.
Mr Katter and State Member for Mount Isa will next week visit the centre of the Northern Queensland Live Cattle area – the Gulf of Carpentaria – for a week long visit to communities heavily reliant on the industry.
“For every cattlemen there are livestock hauliers, mustering contractors, fencing contractors and people at the local store in the town that has no customers.
“The knock on effect here is dramatic,” Mr Katter said.