Payback or placation?
We do not believe this is predominantly "payback" for the furore over the killing of convicted Australian drug runners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran or over Australia's heavy-handed asylum seeker turn back policy; though it is likely there is a little political tension between Indonesia and Australia, more likely it is an attempt by Prime Minister Widodo to appease certain sections of the Indonesian population.
Contrary to what this industry would have you believe, not all Indonesians are clamouring for hot fresh beef recently slaughtered and sold at wet markets (despite MLA’s best attempts to pimp Australian beef and rising demand, Indonesians outside Java are not traditionally huge beef consumers).
“Australian imported cattle” is not music to everyone’s ears in many of the destination countries. Whole sections of Indonesia have banned the possession/sale of Australian cattle because of their devaluing effect on the local cattle industry. Owning livestock in some third world countries is like a form of currency; when someone brings cattle (currency) in by the shipload it destabilizes the value of those who have scraped their little cattle herd (savings) together… very destabilizing, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it is this element that the PM is trying to placate, by reducing reliance on Australian live cattle imports.
Whatever the reason, if the quota restrictions remain, it will see some cattle having to be retained in Australia and fattened up (Indonesia has a 350kg weight restriction for feeder cattle so that they can profit from fattening them up there), some will be redirected to other markets that will require longer voyages and have less Australian presence and influence than Indonesia or shocking history of animal abuse (Vietnam = two+ years of supply chain leakage and/or sledgehammering cattle despite industry knowledge of the issue).
There really is nothing positive about losing one market or having access to it severely restricted when the alternatives are worse. Hard to hear we know, and yes - all live animal exports need to stop worldwide, but due to short voyages, high stun rate and high Australian presence, Indonesia is currently one of the best options for cattle if they are going to be exported.
Read The Age article here