Lazarus' idea to cap live export threatens producers

WHEN live cattle exports were banned in 2011, it took years for the northern cattle industry to recover.

Now Rockhampton Senator Matt Canavan is criticising Senator Glenn Lazarus after he confirmed he would support a cap on live export.

Mr Lazarus is backing the Australasian Meat Industry Employees' Union, which has blamed the live export market for job losses in the processing sector.

On Tuesday he put forward a motion in the Senate which called for a group to work with stakeholders to address the needs of "all cattle based industries".

He also called for the government to look into whether free trade agreements had contributed to job losses.

But Mr Canavan, the Minister for Northern Australia, said suggesting free trade agreements were responsible was creating doubt and undermining confidence in the sector.

He also said any support of a cap on live exports was dangerous for the industry.

Mr Canavan acknowledged that the supply of cattle into the meatworks was tight at the moment.

However, he said this was part of a normal cycle which until recently had benefitted processors and left farmers with low returns.

"(If live export is capped) prices will fall, it's going to be graziers of central and north Queensland who will pay the price," he said.

Mr Canavan also said with production slowing he hoped processors would look after local jobs and limit the number of 457 visa workers.


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