Producers beg PM: Let the live-ex court case ruling lie

Producers beg PM: Let the live-ex court case ruling lie


Decision on an appeal to Brett Cattle Co live-ex court case expected in cabinet tonight


PRODUCERS are pulling out all stops to prevent an appeal to the influential Federal Court ruling that the decision to ban cattle live exports to Indonesia in 2011 was invalid.

The Morrison Government, which has until next Monday to lodge an appeal to the ruling handed down by Justice Steve Rares last month, is expected to make a decision in cabinet tonight, although it is unlikely to make that public immediately.

The court ruling led to the awarding of almost $3m in damages to Northern Territory live cattle suppliers the Brett Cattle Company for losses incurred from the ban implemented by the then Gillard Labor Government.

The Bretts were the lead litigants in a class action and the ruling has paved the way for substantial compensation claims from hundreds more graziers and beef industry businesses.

In the aftermath of the high-profile handing down of the ruling, the Bretts and beef industry leaders who have helped pull together the class action pleaded with the Government to let the matter rest.

Compensation was one thing, closure another, they said.

The National Farmers Federation today sent out an email generator encouraging people to email the Prime Minister and Attorney General explaining why they feel an appeal would be wrong.

An appeal would be a slap in the face for hundreds of Top End families who have waited nearly a decade for justice, the NFF said.

The 2011 decision, by then Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, to shut down Australia's live cattle exports caused catastrophic damage which is still being felt to this day, it says.

Mr Ludwig has now been found to have committed misfeasance - or misuse of public office.

SEE: Ludwig at fault

His decision came in response to public backlash ignited by dramatic television footage of animal cruelty filmed by animal activists in Indonesia abattoirs.

The core of the applicants' argument was that the government did not need to ban the trade - there were other options - and therefore that decision was in fact illegal.

Hundreds of cattle producing families, as well as the thousands of people employed across the industry had their livelihoods decimated with the stroke of a pen, NFF said.

"After almost a decade in the justice system, the Federal Court has now found that the decision to suspend the trade wasn't just careless or immoral - it was illegal," NFF's call-to-action says.

"But rather than put this matter to bed after so many years, the Morrison Government is actively considering an appeal.

"We're calling on the Morrison Government to let this decision lie, and give these families the closure they deserve."

In a case management hearing following the ruling, Justice Rares put a figure on the value of the cattle involved: $2.15 per kilogram for steers and $1.95 for heifers.

That price will be locked in for the future of the class action, which could involve several hundred additional litigants.

SEE: Scene set for big compensation bill

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has been under heavy pressure to convince his government to let the matter lie.

This week he said the Federal Government 'wholeheartedly respects the decision of the court.'

"We believe that the decision by Joe Ludwig to shut the live trade in 2011 was a seriously flawed one, and therefore obviously compensation will need to flow to producers and to the supply chain with respect to that," he said.

The Attorney-General was working through the 'point of law' to make sure there were no unintended consequences - ensuring 'we get this right', he said.

The principle of compensation, however, was one the Prime Minister had already made clear it would 'wholeheartedly respect', he said.

SEE ALSO: Live-ex appeal talk leaves a sour taste

Will the live-ex ruling stop knee-jerk reactions?

The story Producers beg PM: Let the live-ex court case ruling lie first appeared on Farm Online.


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