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In a previous post, I argued that the live cattle ban was essentially pointless because in a competitive market, other exporters would simply fill the hole that Australia left. It turns out I was right – in fact, it turns out the local cattle market is sufficiently well developed to sustain the Indonesian slaughterhouses without any Australian imports at all. Since it will soon be self-sufficient, Jakarta is drastically cutting its quota for Australian imports next year. As a result, Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has instantly resumed the cattle trade.

I must confess, I don’t understand why the Government followed this route. It took them far too long to respond to the controversy and they were far too heavy-handed when they did.

It would have made far more sense to ban trade to that particular slaughterhouse, allow trade to particular slaughterhouses who allowed Australia to monitor their practices and therefore incentivise all Indonesian slaughterhouses to upgrade to Australian ethical standards. Now they’ve pissed off the Indonesian authorities, forcing Australia to do a complete backdown. Ethical standards won’t be raised a single iota in Indonesia as a result.

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