Author Topic: Live ex ban class action - great timing...  (Read 992 times)

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Live ex ban class action - great timing...
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 04:54:41 PM »
Live ex ban class action.

 THE Federal Budget has listed a contingency item for potential multi-million dollar compensation payments for financial damages caused by the Labor government’s suspension of the live cattle export trade to Indonesia in June 2011.

The ban came after the ABC Four Corners program broadcast on May 30 last year.

But in folding to the demands of animal welfare groups to ban the trade immediately, amid an ALP back-bench revolt, the Gillard government exposed local industry to crippling flow-on impacts which caused hundreds of job losses in Australia and far more in Indonesia.

Australia’s key trading partner has also cut its cattle import permit quotas by 50 per cent in retaliation to the ban.

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig declined to elaborate on the potential compensation payments coming from the two separate legal actions listed in the budget papers.

Both were listed under the heading "Contingent Liabilities - Unquantifiable" in the Statement of Risks section in the budget.

Responding to questions about the potential claims and legal action, a spokesperson for the Minister said it would be inappropriate to comment on any matters that may be subject to action before the courts.

The budget papers said the Australian government may become liable for compensation following the decision by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to suspend the export of livestock to Indonesia for one month last year.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has also received a claim under the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA) from a law firm on behalf of three clients.

A class action is being handled by law firm Minter Ellison on behalf of 21 individual producers and live exporters.

Andrew Gill of Minter Ellison declined to comment on the the amount his clients were claiming.

It’s understood the firm is attempting to negotiate privately with the federal government and the department to progress the claims, as a priority action.

The basis of the claim is understood to centre on trade suspension being a "negligent decision" that lacked proper consultation between the Minister, the department and other senior government ministers.

The Australian Live Exporters Council is not involved in the claims.

His comprehensive 22-page summary of the live export issue outlines critical reasons around the government’s ban and highlights why his three clients are entitled to compensation and the government is liable.

Brisbane Lawyer Trent Thorne said the CDDA scheme was an obscure piece of legislation, available to handle compensation claims for individuals that had suffered from a Commonwealth agency’s "defective actions", but where those individuals had no other avenues available to seek redress and the government had a moral obligation to pay.

The scheme can be applied if a Minister, or an authorised officer, forms an opinion that an official of an agency acting, or purporting to act, in the course of their duty, has directly caused the applicant to suffer detriment as a result of defective administration.

Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb said he is not surprised cattle producers are considering a class action against the Gillard government.

Mr Cobb said Labor’s "bungling" of Indonesian live exports cost the sector dearly and the industry was "still reeling emotionally and financially".

He said only about 20pc of the government’s $100 million compensation package was used, as it was poorly designed.

He said the suspension had also introduced sovereign risk as a factor for those trading with Australia.

Mr Thorne confirmed he’d lodged a claim in January to recoup losses sustained during the month-long suspension, and he believed industry claims could be worth $100 million to $200m.

18 May, 2012
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 10:19:44 PM by WA Export News »