National Farmers' Federation

Government rejects compensation offer, betrays cattle industry

The Federal Government has shot an arrow into the hopes of Australia’s cattle industry by rejecting a counter offer in the long-running class action over the unlawful closure of the live cattle export trade in 2011.

National Farmers’ Federation Acting CEO, Charlie Thomas, said the Government had ignored an opportunity to address years of financial and emotional pain, and allow claimants to put the saga behind them once and for all.

“This is a petty and callous move by a Government which seems determined to deny justice to these families at all costs.

“They had the chance to do the right thing and end years of pain. Instead, they’ve chosen to allow this matter to fester and be dragged back through the courts.”

It’s been more than three years since a court found that the Gillard Government had committed malfeasance in its decision to shut down the live cattle export trade from Australia.

Late last year, the claimants made a fair offer in good faith to the Commonwealth of $510 million plus costs and interest to break a legal deadlock and settle the Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture [2020] FCA 732 class action.

The group of 215 parties to the class action include cattle producers, exporters and independent service providers, such as veterinarians and musterers, who were devastated by the Government’s decision to shut down the trade.

“The Government’s political decision to end live export virtually overnight, showed disregard for its own departmental advice, and caused widespread financial damage, family break ups, and even suicide among those impacted.

“Far from acting as a model litigant, they’re now pulling out every delay tactic they can find to avoid making good on their wrongdoing.

“It seems likely at this point that the Government’s tactics will force this matter back into the courts to secure an outcome.

“While this is no doubt a disappointing day for those impacted, we’ll continue to stand alongside them until this matter is resolved.”