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Ban reflects lack of vision

Northern Miner 09/08/2011

Elizabeth Griffiths, North Australia Project, Institute of Public Affairs

The live cattle export ban is a reflection of the lack of vision and local knowledge of our politicians.

The needs of Northern Australia and its inhabitants have been ignored since federation.

Australia, a land that prides itself on an independent and rural heritage has, with the recent ban imposed on live cattle exports, altered an integral part of its agricultural history and destroyed the economic future of an industry and its workforce.

They have done this to satisfy urbanised, inner city electorates, and in the process hung the hardworking northern farmers out to dry.

Responding to a report on the ABC’s current affairs program Four Corners, which highlighted incidents of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs, the Federal Government reacted by abruptly imposing a ban on live exports to Indonesia.

Leading the charge have been the Greens senators and an independent senator from South Australia, Nick Xenophon. Senator Xenophon has finally travelled north this week to meet live exporters after campaigning for a live export ban to boost his political standing.

None of these politicians can accurately claim to represent majority opinion of any state or territory and only two have any constituents in the northern half of the continent.

The Institute of Public Affairs and Australians for Northern Economic Development and Vision (ANDEV) argue that Australia’s north is underutilised and increasingly marginalised by politicians who lack vision and understanding of the north.

What is needed in the north is the development of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with reduced taxes and regulation to encourage investment and provide security to the north’s residents and businesses.

It’s time Australian policy makers took the north seriously. We should stop squandering the potential of the north and establish a Northern SEZ to create an environment to stimulate economic growth and development.