Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 I would 1 i ke to move quickly to some of the matters rai sed in the Operational Management Review report on BTEC that was carried out last year. The point of the exercise was not to investigate the rorts and the allegations that have been made by a number of people, myself included, about individuals involved in the industry and the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis, but to examine the operational management of the plan. The report reveals an incredible situation in terms of the effects on the Northern Territory's cattle and buffalo indiJstries. The review estimates that, between now and the completion of the scheme in the Northern Territory, the de-stocking required to achieve impending-free status wi 11 be 150 000 head between now and 1992. That means that 10% of the controlled herd of the Northern Territory will be de-stocked between now and 1992. In addition, uncontrolled stock in infected areas will have to be de-stocked also. We do not know the numbers involved there. Imagi ne the effect of the de-stocking of 150 000 bea sts. The report states that the economic effect of forced de-stocking seems likely to impact more on owner-operated enterprises. That is exactly what I have been saying all along. The large international or interstate concerns will have a much. better chance of surviving this than will the Northern Territory's own pastoralists, who are really copping it in the neck. The report also points out that, as compensation is paid at market values, the properties suffer serious production losses. There is a considerable lag between the replacement of the de-stocked animals and when they are able to be placed on the market. This causes tremendous cash flow difficulties for those properties. The report raises the same problems that I have been saying will occur wi th respect to abattoi rs. The stock numbers that wi 11 be put through the abattoirs over the next few years will put tremendous pressure on them. After that period, however, there will be very few cattle and we may lose a substantial part of our abattoir industry in the Northern Territory. In relation to who will be affected most, the report clearly states: 'Darwin and Gulf areas and parts of the Victoria River district in the Northern Territory, parts of the West Kimberleys and the Peninsula Gulf area of Queensland are the areas that have been identified of landholders which will be still disadvantaged more than their counterparts in other regions by the impact of heavy de-stocking in order to meet the 1992 target date'. It is a very difficult situation for people in the top end of Australia. Members can see a copy of the report in the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries. It contains a table indicating the predicted dollar effect on the regional economies of the Top End as a result of the 1992 target date. It is predi cted that $60m will be the tota 1 regi ona 1 loss over the 3 years. That figure may be small beer to the people of Darwin but, for rural areas of the top end outside of Darwin, $60m will mean the difference between survival and catastrophe. This is a serious problem and it led the national committee to recommend that the date for impending-free status in the Northern Territory be moved back from the middle of 1992 to the end of 1992. This would bring the cut-off date in the Top End into the next wet season, thereby provi di ng 1 more cattle season. Instead of our having only the 1990 and 1991 cattle seasons to complete de-stocking in an orderly manner, there will be time to test and, where necessary, to slaughter more herds and clean up in that way, . thereby minimising the forced de-stocking and minimising the damage to the abattoir industry. Certainly, that has not gone as far as I would have liked to address the problems of BTEC, but it has the potential to save quite a number of people in the industry. 8871