14 Jul 2015

Indonesia cuts live cattle imports from Australia

11:33 am on 14 July 2015

The Australian Government has expressed dismay over Indonesia's decision to drastically cut the number of cattle it intends to import from Australia.

A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said while the Australian Government respected Indonesia's right to make the decision, it was "disappointed".

Australian cattle producers have been told Indonesia will only allow 50,000 head of cattle to be imported into the country between July and September, down from 250,000 the previous quarter.

Chief executive of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council Alison Penfold said it had taken the industry by surprise.

"It's significantly below our expectations and what was called for by industry in Indonesia," she said.

Indonesia has cut to 50,000 head of cattle its live imports from Australia.

Indonesia has cut to 50,000 head of cattle its live imports from Australia. Photo: AAP

Ms Penfold said it was "absolutely not" related to other issues, such as Australia's policy of turning asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia.

"This is a matter purely involving production issues in Indonesia, and supply issues," she said.

"It's got nothing to do with anything else."

But the Opposition's Agriculture Spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon argued the state of the relationship was a factor.

"Of course the Abbott Government's relationship with Indonesia or the deterioration of it won't be helping at all," he said.

Chief executive of Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association (NTLEA) Stuart Kemp said he was "quite disappointed" the figure was low.

"It'll mean a lot less through the port of Darwin. This third quarter the long term average has been over 100,000 heads so to be below half the long-term average is obviously disappointing," he said.

"It'll have an impact on the number of head going through port. This is on the back of the last financial year when we had a record number going through.

"At a national level the ALEC [Australian Livestock Exporters Association] have been pushing for a 12-month permit so we can get a better lead in and a better indication - our exporters can then distribute those cattle across the year a lot more evenly."

He said the NTLEA would continue to push for a "more reasonable and longer" period permit system.

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