Federal Court proceedings began in a class action brought by Northern Territory cattle producers against the Federal Government for the 2011 shut down of the live cattle trade to Indonesia.
The producers are seeking to recover losses incurred as a result of the over-night suspension of the trade, which saw the fate of tens of thousands of cattle put into limbo, farming families left without an income, supply chain businesses put to the wall and international trade relationships damaged.
Counsel representing the lead applicant, Brett Cattle Co., Minter Ellison, will argue the then Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig, erred in his application of the Export Control (Orders) Regulations 1982.
The Act enables the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture to restrain international trade for the maintenance of national economic interests.
Counsel will allege the Government did not act for national economic interests but was instead motivated for reasons relating to animal welfare, and was recklessly indifferent to the impact on Australian cattle producers.
The hearing will take part in two blocks – with the 20th of July 2017 marking the start of proceedings to determine the Government’s liability.
The second part of proceedings will be heard in December 2017 and will focus on determining the loss sustained by impacted producers and the greater cattle supply chain.
The Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund is supporting the applicants.