The Rudd Labor government is preparing to relax Australia's strong quarantine rules on 1 March 2010 to allow beef imports from countries known to have had outbreaks of 'mad cow' disease.


The Rudd government wants us all to believe that because there is only negligible risk of 'mad cow' of getting into Australia that it's OK to change the rules.


The fact there is negligible risk of mad cow disease getting into Australia means there is a risk.


I don't think anyone wants to walk into a restaurant with a sign out the front saying 'negligible risk of 'mad cow' here'?


Rudd Labor are racing to put the 'mad cow' beef import changes in by next Monday, 1 March 2010 but no-one knows how the 'mad cow' protocols will work because they haven't been developed yet!


'Mad cow' disease has a dormant period of 40 years. How can Rudd Labor say, 'yes, this is safe, and this is fantastic for Australia because there is only negligible risk you'll get 'mad cow'?


Some parties to the secret 'mad cow' negotiations, which have only recently come to light, suggest we need the changes to prevent international trade retaliation from some of Australia's trading partners.


For years Australia's trading partners have been pushing to get access to our market saying they feel they're unfairly precluded because of our strong quarantine laws. Then on the other hand we're told there isn't going to be any great increase in beef imports to Australia.


Australia is an island nation, we have no common borders with other countries like nations in the Americas or Europe. So why does agriculture minister Tony Burke want to compromise our Australia's disease free status?


Even if Tony Burke makes the 'mad cow' import protocols publicly available today, there is neither time nor opportunity for any thorough public or parliamentary scrutiny before their introduction on Monday, 1 March 2010.


Every Australian should be alarmed and concerned that Rudd Labor wants to relax Australia's strong quarantine rules and put Australia at needless risk of 'mad cow' disease coming into our nation.   

Tags: BSE, Fiona, Nash, Senator, cow, mad

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Rae, 45 cents per what? And how does this compare to our own costs? And how do US beef costs compare to retail prices? And how do our own costs compare to our own retail prices?
Rae thats correct 58 cents to take beef from USA where ranchers there recieve A$2.60/ kg for their cattle and consumers there pay A$12.54/kg for lion cuts.In Australia we get $1.70/kg for our cattle and our consumers pay $23.80 for loin.For the government and their paid representatives that Simon Crean cleverly calls "the industry" to say that their will not be a flood of imported beef from countries that have had cases of BSE is quite the joke.
We(the ABA) warned of the dangers of impoting beef from BSE affected countries in front of a crowd of 1200 people at a information day at Armidale on Saturday.99% of the people who were there were against the importation.So called industry representatives were very alone.Tony Burke was invited to go however refused to attend.A Minister to frieghtened to face his constituents.The Rudd government is more concerned with strutting the world stage than looking after the people that consume and produce beef in Australia.
Brad, 58 cents per what? What is your source on that figure? Also, I'm curious about the source on the retail prices you quote. I know that US consumers pay less for almost everything, but this is more a function of economies of scale in purchasing power (i.e., 300 million people versus 22 million here). I'm just trying to run through the maths myself from an economic perspective.

The figures you quote would have been comparable before the ban on beef imposed due to the BSE scare, and we were not inundated with US beef then. Why?

To Janet,

Hi Janet, it was said 58 cents/kg to import beef from America because it is subsidised there. That was quoted in the interview ans Simon Crean did not argue that fact, he argued a lot of other details to do with negligable risk though.

But I am only passing on what was said during the interview. If you want to listen to the whole thing then go to and click on Alan Jones highlights and then Interview with Simon Crean.

The protocols have only been in place for 2 weeks and yet it was approved as of the 1st March? What was the hurry and why was it kept so quiet. Certainly the consumer knew nothing of this and we should know we have the right to know.

I am not prone to believing sensation claims. Listen for yourself and if you think it all made sense then by all means please tell me I am wrong in being more than a bit worried about this. Simon Crean simply made no sense at all. I am sorry but I am stilly very bloody worried.
Rae, thank you for that. I'm not a fan of this Government nor of Simon Crean. I think the guy is really not very smart. I'm arguing FOR opening up the imports again, based on what I know about the disease and our import/export numbers.

I agree with you that transparency is desirable, but I also know that people and media love negative news stories, and "mad cow disease" is one of their favourites. So as a beef producer and consumer, I can actually understand why the discussions were attempted to be kept quiet. Obviously, in today's technologically-advanced world, this turned out to be silly. A bad decision.

But the fact of the matter is that Australia, by 2001, had already been exposed as much as it was ever going to be to BSE. Worldwide, the cases have decreased since their height in 1993, and variant CJD deaths peaked in 2000. We have now determined that the risk is so minute that we can no longer use this as a reason to ban imports, so to go back to previous trade rules makes perfect sense.
58 cents per kg.
USDA for sirloin prices
Combination of Coles and Woolworths advertised prices plus local coutry butcher for average price of sirloin in Aus.
Supermarket duopoly in Australia pushes prices higher
The supermarket margin has increased by 34% since 2003 and Australian dollar is consistenly higher.
Brad, thanks for your response. Unfortunately, protecting our producers will not help with the supermarket duopoly. Were we to come together and call for less government intervention, fewer regulations and more freedom, many of our problems would be solved.
Janet- back then AUD spent a lot of time well under 70cents US. Now it would be much more attractive to dump semi subsidised meat meat here as Brad has illustrated- the figures do stack up.

Terry and Lee have been going hammer and tongs over the degree's of Bse. Fom what I have read and I am barely interested in the jargon-it is far from clear cut and since we are an island Continent-there is no Logical Reason to have lifted this ban at this stage.

It is clearly a Trade issue as If there was so little interest in openning it up-Then WHO has been lobbiing the Dept as we were told in Armidale?

The Coalition Senators -Heffernan,Nash, Williams and Joyce are introducing a bill that if we support and it gets through-will enforce an Import Risk Assessment to be made on every applicant.This in effect could stop us loosing our reputation until some rules are sorted by the whole Industry participants as opposed to a few faceless public servants.

Steve's Post on R.I.P. agriculture is very revealing on what Burke stands for- it is certainly not us, the 200000 meat workers or the consumers. There are a further 200000 jobs downstream(transport, property staff ,agents etc) and none of it is subsidies like almost everywhere else in the world.

Compare this with our Car Industry that has a mere 40000 workers and gets huge bailouts regularly because it is in the suburbs.

We must forget all the past squabbling and support the coalitions stand.Politics is messy and I would suggest if tracability becomes the new trade barrier-We the Breeders must Immediately get a Rebate on the First Transfer Off PIC of $10 per Head. OTHERWISE scrap the NLIS and the Levy(MLA)

If the Govt thinks we need "Perception "-let them pay for it

I am in disbelief that you would side with the scaremongers. Of all people. I find this almost impossible to believe.
For the record, there are absolutely no subsidies for cattle or beef production in the US.
Cattle there are worth usually about 40% more than here. Grain is about the same price.
The only advantage they have on us is an advantage in operating and processing cost, which is mitigated by the extreme distance they would have to ship the product.
Keep in mind, our cattle are enough cheaper than theirs that we ship over 350,000 tonnes of beef to them every year.
They wish to ship us about 30 to 40 tonnes of very high quality grain fed beef, and I think we should let them. I am one of the few that actually has to compete with them in this market and I can assure you it will make no difference in my sales.
This whole thing is an absoluetly absurd scaremongering campaign and the coalition should know better. Their position on this goes against their fundamental philosophy. I support the labour government's position, I support MLA's position, I support cattle councils position, I support the Australian Lot Feeders Association position, and I think we desperately need to let this issue die now.
These unsubstanited fear campaigns empower bureaucrats and lawyers and hurt producers and consumers. I say enough is enough.
They told our Pork Producers before all the EU product flooded in -the same tune. Don't be paranoid nobody would upset your domestic market it will be good for consumers.

The rest is history-72% of pork eaten this last xmas was Imported. I am sick of being labelled a "scaremonger"for simply being a wake up to the obvious!
Hi ruth,
i posted an Aussie risk assessment PDF in the first of lees posts, it said what I did, the testing regime and the methods and volume left a fair bit to be desired in the Authors opinion, and this was a government funded report..
terry Singletarys items on the incorporation of "Unsafe" meat meal in large volumes repeated times also leads a thinking think..NO WAY!

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