Doorstop in Brisbane, QLD


SUBJECTS: Cattle exports to Indonesia

MURRAY WATT, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY: Yes well, we've received some very good news overnight from Indonesia. Some very good news for Australian cattle producers, especially in Northern Australia, with Indonesia advising that they will lift their suspensions and restrictions on exports of Australian live cattle and buffalo. This is an issue that's been running for a few weeks now, and has taken a lot of work from a lot of people within government and industry to resolve.

So we're very pleased that Indonesia has advised they will resume exports from Australia immediately. This is a really important, really valuable trade, particularly for Northern Australia. We've traditionally sent over 300,000 live cattle and buffalo to Indonesia. And it's our biggest market. So this is terrific news for our cattle producers and the whole supply chain.

JOURNALIST: And are there any conditions on their resumption?

MURRAY WATT: Yeah so the agreement has been reached as a result of a two day meeting between our biosecurity officials and their Indonesian counterparts. We have agreed to a range of additional conditions that Indonesia requested, all of which we are confident that Australian producers and exporters can meet. So for instance, we will need to regularly report the results of our surveillance activities to detect lumpy skin disease in Northern Australia, that will be reported on a regular basis to Indonesia. We will also be welcoming a delegation of Indonesian quarantine officials to Northern Australia in a couple of weeks' time so that they can physically inspect the premises involved. But as I say all of the conditions that have been agreed to we're confident can be reasonably managed.

JOURNALIST: And what cost [inaudible]?

MURRAY WATT: Well that sort of thing is still yet to be worked out, but obviously in terms of surveillance activities, they are funded by federal government. But there's some further work to be done between both countries as towards the determining the cost of the additional measures, but we don't expect them to be unreasonably high in cost.

JOURNALIST: If we don't have lumpy skin (disease) then why is there the need to have these additional resources

MURRAY WATT: Well we respect the fact that each country makes its own decisions about their biosecurity arrangements. And we've said from day one that Australia doesn't have lumpy skin disease, and that's obviously been proven as a result of the tests that we provided to Indonesia, and also to Malaysia. So it's good that our position has been shown to be correct. We don't want to have lumpy skin disease in Australia, because it's a very destructive disease for our cattle industry. But we recognise that each country makes its own decisions about what requirements they need to be met to accept exports from other countries. And we're pleased that Indonesia has been able to work through these issues with us.

So I want to thank everyone in the Indonesian Government who has been part of this solution, but I particularly want to thank the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and our officials in the agriculture and foreign affairs department who have put a lot of work into resolving this.