LETTER: Zero confidence follows cattle trade suspension, Gillard told


Sir – In a meeting with the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard received a frank and detailed brief on the state of the northern cattle industry.
During the meeting, NTCA Vice President and cattle producer Chris Muldoon painted a stark picture of an industry fighting combined forces of record low prices and volume into the Indonesian market, record low prices on the domestic market and a high Australian dollar.  This, coupled with a collapse in confidence and cash flow following the trade suspension of 2011 is feeding a free fall in land values and rising debt.   “This is a potent mix,” said Mr Muldoon.
“Right now, the best thing that can happen would be for the Indonesian market to restart, allowing us to fill the natural demand, driven by the prosperity of the Indonesian economy and playing to the synergy of our northern breeding systems and Indonesia’s feedlot sector,” said Mr Muldoon.
The meeting included discussion of the federal government response to the current financial crisis across northern Australia, and the regions very unique characteristics, including the size and scale of operations.  The NTCA reinforced the critical opportunity for government to look at the long term viability of our northern industry in the context of its own Asian Century white paper,  regional and Indigenous development and  relationships in our region.
There is not much use talking about the Asian Century if we haven’t got an industry and economy to take part.
Mr Bowen said that while the NTCA have been in ongoing, direct discussions with the government over recent months, there is an expectation of an announcement in coming days, detailing a support package for primary producers, suffering under acute financial pressures.
At the meeting the Prime Minister announced federal assistance for an Indonesia Australia Pastoral Student Exchange Program which was pioneered in 2012 by the NTCA and about to commence for 2013 with the arrival of 16 university students in Darwin on May 1.
The students come from six universities and will spend eight weeks on cattle stations after an initial 10 day intensive induction and training program.
“This program has already seen some heartwarming relationships formed which will endure for the long term benefit of industry and communities in our 2 countries”, said Mr Bowen.
Luke Bowen
NTCA Executive Director



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