National Farmers' Federation

Farmers: Do the right thing PM Morrison – we’re counting on you

The National Farmers’ Federation believes Federal Cabinet is set to meet to decide whether to appeal the Federal Court’s decision in favour of the Brett Cattle Company, in the matter regarding the 2011 shut down of the live cattle trade to Indonesia.

“At this seemingly eleventh hour, our message to Prime Minister Morrison is clear and strong: do the right thing, let the decision stand and justice be served,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

“A decision to appeal would send a clear message of contempt and disregard to regional Australia, particularly to those who have already hurt too much as a result of this decision.”

On June 2, in the matter of Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture, Justice Stephen Rares, was unequivocal in finding in favour of the Brett family.

Rares J ruled the 2011 decision amounted to misfeasance in public office, that the Minister’s decision and the ban was illegal and the Bretts and others were owed significant compensation.

“The Morrison Government has the opportunity now to right the wrongs of the then Labor Government’s overnight shut down of the live cattle trade nine years ago,” Ms Simson said.

“A move that brought the northern cattle industry to its knees and sent a shudder down the spine of all Australian farmers.

“Thousands of cattle were left in limbo – in yards, in feedlots and on trucks; farming families were cut off from any income for the foreseeable future and dependent businesses, workers and communities – abandoned. Our livestock trade with Indonesia was left in tatters.

“The Labor Government’s actions shook regional Australia’s belief in everything they thought this great democracy stood for – a fair go. If a whole trade could be wiped out overnight what else?”

Ms Simson said the NFF understood the judgment may be concerning for the Government on the basis of a precedent affecting future Government decisions, however a decision to appeal effectively endorsed Joe Ludwig’s decision and all its impacts.


“This case is unique in terms of the facts already established. There could be no guarantee that an appeal would do anything other than cement a reasonably weak single-judge precedent. Importantly, a decision to appeal, would waste the hard-earned dollars of all Australian taxpayers, something that is almost unthinkable in these tough economic times.”  


Lead applicants, the Brett Cattle Company were supported by the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund in the drawn-out class action.


“The AFFF, has already expended monumental amounts of money on fighting for justice. A decision by the Government would further draw on this Fund, which was established and funded by farmers themselves,” Ms Simson said.


The NFF, the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund is calling on Australians who care about good decision making, a fair go, our farmers and the bush to email the Prime Minister and Attorney General with one simple message: Let It Stand.
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