Author Topic: Ludwig's endless excuses - Landline 11.03.2012  (Read 886 times)

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Ludwig's endless excuses - Landline 11.03.2012
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 03:57:00 PM »
In this extract from Landline, the Minister 'representing the live exporters' claims his 'system' is working

PIP COURTNEY, PRESENTER: Hello. I'm Pip Courtney. Welcome to Landline, coming to you this week from Canberra and the ABARE's Outlook Conference.

While this year's theme is Future Landscapes, nothing concentrates the minds of delegates quite like the more short-term forecasts for our major commodities.

Kerry Lonergan has been taking some soundings from the experts.

ALISON WATKINS, CEO, GRAINCORP: We have a tremendous opportunity in agriculture in Australia as we know and the grains industry has probably the best of all opportunities ahead of us over the next coming decades.

So what we really want to make sure is that we're setting ourselves up to really take advantage of that because there's plenty of competition out there as well.

The Black Sea countries for example are dramatically growing their share of world grain and we want to make sure that Australia's supply chain costs are the most competitive.

Joining me now is Federal Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig.

Senator Ludwig, welcome to Landline.

SENATOR JOE LUDWIG, FEDERAL AGRICULTURE MINISTER: Welcome, and thanks very much for the opportunity.

PIP COURTNEY: Can we start with some of the challenges facing farmers on the eastern seaboard where we've got flooding in three states? What's this going to cost the Federal Government?

JOE LUDWIG: I don't like to put a figure on it until they go through and work through some of the damage that's occurred. From my experience, though, it's not short change.

There's been significant flooding across the eastern seaboard, and can I say my heart goes out to some people who've lost possessions, who've lost livestock, who've lost crops. It's a particularly trying time for those people.

What I do know is that the resilience of the farming community is second to none. My experience from the 2010 flooding event tells me that they do bounce back - so the encouragement I can say to farming communities is that I know it's tough but the Federal Government stands with you that, we provided significant support and assistance, as did the states throughout that flooding event, and will continue to do that for these flooding events.

That does mean that the opportunities will be there post the flooding events.

PIP COURTNEY: If we can turn to one of the biggest issues from last year which has reared its head this year - live exports.

The fact the issue has blown up again, is that your fault, industry's fault or the Indonesians' fault?

JOE LUDWIG: What I always said, when we put in place the Supply Chain Assurance Program, when I announced that scheme I did say there would be mistakes, there would be errors, there would be problems emerge.

The good thing about the scheme is that it will identify individual mistakes, errors and be able to ensure the regulator can provide a remedy to that.

So what we had before was a self-regulated industry that failed to take account of animal welfare.

What we now have in place is individual supply chains where the exporter is responsible.

We can then identify where the issues lie and we can then ask the regulator to investigate those individual issues, where there is a mistake, where there is a problem and address them specifically.

PIP COURTNEY: Does that mean you expect more breaches?

JOE LUDWIG: What I expect is that the exporters to take the responsibility very heavily, make sure animal welfare is at the heart of the trade because they play a very important role.

They will ensure that the industry has a bright future by ensuring animal welfare, by following the supply chain.

PIP COURTNEY: What confidence do you have that the supply chain will ever be able to achieve the standards that you've insisted on?

JOE LUDWIG: This was the right decision for industry.

I believe it because it provides industry with certainty, it presents industry with a bright future.

Why? Because the supply chain will mean that animal welfare is taken into account. They will be able to have the confidence of the community, the social licence to continue to export into many of the markets that we talk about, and the opportunities will be there now and into the future.

PIP COURTNEY: If the new standards can't be met is this industry doomed?

JOE LUDWIG: The industry is meeting the new standard.

When I introduced the new standard from October and to now into many of our export markets, we already have 17 odd more supply chains in place.

The industry recognises that this is and will continue to be an important part of their export and so they are meeting the supply chains.

There will be, as I have said, mistakes. There will be errors. There will be problems that arise.

The good thing about this system, is it will identify individual exporters, it will zero in on them and if they failed to manage their export licence then the regulator will be able to take remedial action against individual exporters, not the industry as a whole.

PIP COURTNEY: How can you say it's working if we've already had a breach?

JOE LUDWIG: But that demonstrates the system works.

Why? Because we've already had an issue arise.

The regulator has seized of the issue, they're investigating it and they will be able to then trace back to determine what type of action they should take should it be part of our industry supply chain.

PIP COURTNEY: Since the Four Corners report there has been talk of building export abattoirs in the Far North to give producers options.

Can either of those proposals expect to get any help from the Federal Government?

JOE LUDWIG: More broadly, we already do provide finance. We've already got Simon Crean working across the northern beef strategy.

He's had a range of industry meetings - because the north of Australia provides us with great opportunity for cattle, other commodities as well, because we do have a great opportunity in the north. We should use it.

In terms of broadly how we support them, the Federal Government does provide significant support through that strategy.