Meat & Livestock News

Cattle Australia Calls for Resolution in Live Export Class Action Against Government

Cattle Australia (CA) is urging for a fair resolution to the ongoing class action lawsuit concerning the 2011 government-imposed suspension of the live cattle export trade. Dr Chris Parker, Chief Executive Officer of CA, expressed profound disappointment following the Federal Government’s recent rejection of a settlement counteroffer from the claimants.

Dr Parker criticised the government’s decision, describing it as a disregard for those directly impacted by the trade shutdown and the broader beef industry. He accused the government of prolonging the distress experienced by families and businesses affected by the suspension. “The government must present an equitable offer that genuinely acknowledges the harm caused by the Gillard Government’s unlawful actions,” he stated.

The Federal Court previously found that the former Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Queensland Senator Joe Ludwig, had committed misfeasance in public office. His decision to suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia in 2011 was deemed “quintessentially reckless” and unlawful, resulting in significant losses to the industry.

In an attempt to resolve the legal stalemate, the claimants, including 215 parties such as cattle producers, exporters, and independent service providers, proposed a settlement of $510 million plus costs and interest to the Commonwealth late last year. This proposal aimed to settle the Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture [2020] FCA 732 class action.

Dr Parker emphasised the long-term repercussions of the government’s abrupt decision to halt live exports, which he claimed ignored departmental advice and caused enduring damage to the industry.