AS the beef industry crisis deepens across northern Australia, areas of North and North West Queensland are under immense pressure as the dry conditions tightens its grip.
Grave concerns regarding the welfare of thousands of cattle are being expressed at every level throughout these districts. Graphic images of drought-affected cattle being put down have highlighted the issues facing cattle producers over the weekend.
Barry Hughes, chairman of the Beef Crisis Steering Committee, along with Rob Atkinson and Russell Lethbridge are travelling to Canberra today (Tuesday) for three days of talks with government ministers and shadow ministers to instil an urgent message that short-term assistance is required right now.
Medium and longer term issues could then be pursued as a way of getting this industry off its knees.
Since the crisis summit in Richmond on May 7, progress has been made, with meetings locked in with Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, and chief of staff for Federal Minister Craig Emerson, Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Asian century policy.
The Coalition has also expressed keen interest in holding talks with the crisis committee members.
Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott was to hold talks with the committee, followed by discussions with shadow treasurer Joe Hockey and shadow minister for trade Julie Bishop, as well as shadow minister for environment Greg Hunt. Senator Barnaby Joyce has also committed to talks with the group.
Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, has also committed to hold discussions in regard to the impacts of the live export ban to both Indonesia and Queensland.
The six resolutions taken from the summit at Richmond, as well as grassroots concerns from the grazing industry, will form part of an agenda for open dialogue in Canberra.
Mr Hughes said it was of utmost importance to highlight the need for change in regard to how the government does business with the grazing industry, as well as recognising that the industry needs to embrace changes to remain competitive in a global market space.
"Industry leadership from the ground up is imperative to the sustainability of the northern grazing industry," Mr Hughes said.
"Grassroots issues need ground-floor representations.
"I applaud the work of Bob Katter, Federal Member for Kennedy, Robbie Katter, State Member for Mt Isa, and other elected members for instigating the Beef Crisis Summit, and I would also like to acknowledge the State Government from Premier Newman to John McVeigh, State Minister for Agriculture, for their initiative to go it alone with regard to live export to our northern neighbours.
"The Beef Crisis Steering Committee is a very experienced team with great expertise in the grazing industry, as well as local government, livestock agencies and community groups, and they are more than credentialed to hold these seats.
"I'd like to thank all those who have supported this cause and look forward to that continuing in future forays to Brisbane and Canberra.
"I shall endeavour to keep updating events as we progress," Mr Hughes said.