Author Topic: Meat processing dying as government throwns taxpayers money at live exports  (Read 1073 times)

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Meat processing dying as government throwns taxpayers money at live exports
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 03:09:17 PM »
A GROUP of Nationals MPs will push for a Senate inquiry into the meat industry when the party meets this week.

 The Nationals Whip in the Senate, John Williams, who met key industry players in Canberra last week, said the meat processing industry was reaching crisis point, with more than 150,000 jobs at risk, compared with about 50,000 in the struggling car industry.

Senator Williams said he was not calling for a government bailout similar to the car industry, but a "full and urgent" inquiry was needed.

"We need to look at the cost structure of the whole beef industry," he said. "In the past 15 years the number of abattoirs [in NSW] has gone from 15 to nine, five of those are wholly or partially foreign owned, and of the four that are locally owned, three of those are on the market. The industry is doing it really really tough."

Senator Williams said abattoirs should be exempt from a carbon tax, with some plants estimating they will have to pay between $1.7 million and $4 million a year when the tax is introduced. A diesel fuel tax scheduled to kick in from July 2014 will put the industry under further stress.

An industry analysis shows from 1980 to 1996 more than one-third of the country's 475 abattoirs closed. An average of 100 butcher shops in Sydney close each year, with Woolworths and Coles controlling 50 per cent of the market.

In the mid-1990s, five companies controlled 28 per cent of the beef industry. Today three companies - the fully foreign-owned JBS and Nippon and the 50 per cent foreign-owned Teys Cargill - control half the market.

The figures also show that compared to the US and South America, costs to Australian producers are almost double and continuing to rise. Local producers also face crippling levies, paying a total $13.70 per head of cattle in levies and tag charges, compared to just $1 that American producers pay.

Senator Williams said the performance of the industry's key bodies, including Meat and Livestock Australia, the Red Meat Advisory Council and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation also needed to be part of the inquiry.

Following the exposure of animal cruelty against Australian-bred cattle in Indonesia last year, the Agriculture Minister, Senator Joe Ludwig, ordered an inquiry. But the terms of reference did not include an investigation into the broader operations of Meat and Livestock Australia or its subsidiary, LiveCorp.

A case of an alleged $4.2 million fraud involving a former executive employee of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation is due to be heard in the NSW District Court this year.

The accused, Gregory James O'Connor, is making a counter-accusation against the corporation, that it illegally collected more than $40 million in industry levies over a three-year period. It is understood the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is investigating these claims.

Neither MLA or the AMPC returned the Herald's calls at the weekend.

Norman Hunt, a spokesman for the Australian Meat Producers Group, said it had been calling for a full inquiry for some time. Next week pastoralists and processors will meet in Brisbane.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/nationals-whip-says-150000-jobs-are-at-risk-in-meat-industry-crisis-20120212-1sztr.html#ixzz1mJJ5qyWe

« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 03:18:21 PM by WA Export News »