(Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Senator the Honourable Joe Ludwig, Former Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Anor)
The AFFF is funding litigation to compensate those harmed by the shock 2011 shutdown of the live cattle trade.
In June 2011, with the sweep of a pen by then Labor Agriculture former Minister Ludwig and without any consultation or even forewarning to industry, the Government banned the live cattle trade to Indonesia and an entire industry was brought to a standstill.
This devastatingly poor government decision sent shockwaves around the Australian agriculture sector. It shut down businesses overnight. Livestock were left stranded in loading yards while owners scrambled to find food, shelter and somewhere else for them to go. Farming families were left without an income. Supply chain businesses were put to the wall. International trade relationships damaged. Tragically, some families lost loved ones who had themselves lost hope.
The effect of the ban was shattering on many Australian cattle producers and businesses servicing the live export industry. Years later many of these businesses are still recovering.
While both major political parties said it was a poor decision, they did nothing to redress the harm which was caused.
It was left to the sector to pick up the slack, with the backing of the Australian Farmers’ Fighting Fund.
In October 2014, a class action was filed against the Commonwealth Government seeking compensation for the financial losses suffered.
The applicants argued that the ban constituted “misfeasance in public office” because Minister Ludwig made that decision knowing full well that he did not believe it was necessary.
True to form, the government has fought every step of the way.
In July 2017 the Court heard the case in a massive hearing spanning 1 week. This was followed by another another week-long hearing in December 2018.
A decision is pending.