Live cattle export producers could be compensated, PM says, regardless of court appeal

The Prime Minister has indicated that cattle producers could be compensated regardless of whether the Government appeals against a ruling that the 2011 live cattle export ban to Indonesia was invalid.

At a press conference this morning, Scott Morrison said the Coalition was “still considering” the matter of an appeal, but he expressed sympathy for those behind a class action against the Commonwealth.

“What’s important to note is that those live cattle exporters were dealt with egregiously by the Gillard Government,” Mr Morrison said.

The Government has 28 days to declare whether it will appeal against the Federal Court decision which found the snap ban by former agriculture minister Joe Ludwig was reckless and malicious.

Justice Stephen Rares ordered the Commonwealth to pay substantial damages to the Brett Cattle Company class action, which has been running for six years.

In a follow-up hearing today, Justice Rares said the two parties would return to court on August 20 to finalise how many producers and businesses would claim money, and how much they would get.

The class action remains open, and there could eventually be hundreds of producers and businesses seeking payments amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Farmers have accused the Government of dragging out the process and pleaded with the Coalition, which has been consistently critical of the live cattle ban, not to appeal the court’s decision.

As expected, the court formally ordered the Commonwealth to pay the lead plaintiff, the Brett Cattle Company from Waterloo Station, $2.93 million in damages.

Cattle producers stand firm against appeal

Former Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association (NTCA) chief Tracey Hayes, who has been the spokeswoman for the class action, said producers remained firmly against an appeal, even if compensation was guaranteed.

Former NT Cattlemen's Chief on live export ban ruling
Spokeswoman Tracey Hayes says producers remain firmly against an appeal, even if compensation was guaranteed.(News Video)

“So we’re working through now what an appeal might look like and how it would impact on our decisions.

“It’s important that the Prime Minister is the one calling the shots and making the decisions about the next steps that the Commonwealth would take in relation to this matter.

Justice Rares said compensation should be calculated on the basis that a minimum of 88,000 head of cattle could have been exported to Indonesia during the six-week trade suspension at prices of $2.15 per kilo for steers and $1.95 per kilo for heifers.

Ms Hayes urged cattle businesses interested in signing up to the class action to do so as soon as possible.

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