THE meatworkers’ union and the Greens rallied outside Barnaby Joyce’s office yesterday, in protest of his support for the live cattle export industry.
The Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU) said the live export industry was a threat to local jobs.
“Over 2000 workers rely on the domestic meat processing sector for their living in New England alone,” AMIEU spokesman Grant Courtney said.
“Will Mr Joyce stand up for the local working people or will he continue to fight for the interests of large live export businesses?
“We already know the industry has seasonal challenges, but when live export takes supply from local processors, they cannot guarantee job security for local workers.”
The union was joined by New England Greens’ candidate Mercurius Goldstein and party senator Lee Rhiannon.
Mr Goldstein said the Deputy Prime Minister’s willingness to support the live export industry made a “mockery of his claims to represent people who are doing it tough in New England”.
“Mr Joyce has dismissed hundreds of local jobs in processing, transportation, packaging and shipping that would flow from supporting the domestic livestock industry over live exports,” he said.
Mr Joyce said the live exports played a small, but important role in keeping the red meat industry vibrant and cattle prices competitive.
“Live exports make up less than 8 per cent of Australia’s total meat exports,” Mr Joyce said.
“If we didn’t have live exports, we’d have a flood of northern cattle into southern markets and that would really put a damper on the Inverell economy. People would start losing their jobs.”
Mr Joyce said he had a “major union campaign” against him and the meat workers were just the latest to jump on the band wagon.
“We’ve turned around agricultural exports in this nation so they are now the second-biggest export after iron ore – I’ll put that up against any economist anywhere.”