Equitable solution demanded for long running class action over live export trade

Cattle Australia is demanding an equitable resolution of the long-running class action over the unlawful closure of the live cattle export trade in 2011.

CA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chris Parker, said the Federal Government’s recent rejection of a counteroffer from the claimants was an incredibly disappointing outcome in a process that has dragged on far too long.

“This decision is a slight against those directly affected by the trade shutdown at the time, as well as the wider beef industry,” Dr Parker said.

“Instead of doing the right thing, Government has chosen to prolong the pain inflicted on families and businesses.

“If the Government truly intends to act in good faith, it must make the claimants an equitable offer that truly recognises the damage caused by the Gillard Government’s unlawful behaviour.

“Government needs to stop using delay tactics, concede their wrongdoings, and act in a manner that shows they value the people and businesses of rural and regional Australia.”

It’s been more than three years since the Federal Court found the former Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Queensland Senator Joe Ludwig, committed the tort of misfeasance in public office with a “quintessentially reckless” and unlawful suspension of the live cattle trade to Indonesia in 2011 that caused substantial losses to the industry.

Late last year, the claimants made a fair and genuine offer 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 damage that is still being felt over a decade later,” Dr Parker said.

-Cattle Australia