Live-ex class action kicks into top gear

Live-ex class action kicks into top gear

Beef
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Up to 300 litigants expected, with 'feed-in' businesses also involved

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UP to 300 litigants are expected to be part of the class action seeking compensation from the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 that was ruled invalid by the Federal Court last month.

A closing date for the class action has not yet been set and facilitators of the legal action are urging those who feel they have a claim to get their paperwork in order to allow for losses to be identified.

Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association boss Ashley Manicaros said alongside producers, feed-in industries to the live export trade were expected to be part of the class action.

It would be a minimum of 12 months, probably longer, before any compensation dollars flowed through, he said.

The compensation bill for the Federal Government has been estimated, by the live export industry, to be as much as $600m.

The Morrison Government last week announced it would not appeal the decision handed down last month, following six years of legal proceedings, that Joe Ludwig, in his role as the Gillard Labor Government's agriculture minister in 2011, had committed misfeasance, or misuse of public office, by implementing the live export ban.

Justice Steven Rares ruled the ban illegal and in following court appearances awarded the lead litigants in the case, the Northern Territory's Brett Cattle Company, almost $3m in damages.

In subsequent case management hearings, he set a figure on the value of the cattle involved: $2.15 per kilogram for steers and $1.95 for heifers.

From the evidence before him in the Brett case, Justice Rares also determined that at least 88,000 head of cattle could have been exported to Indonesia had the ban not been put in place.

That has set the parameters for the class action but the court is still to determine the global amount of compensation.

Chief executive officer of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association Emma White said there was still significant work to be done assessing claims and the devil would be in the detail.

However, the Morrison Government's decision not to appeal the ruling was a landmark point in that it sealed the acknowledgment of the unjust nature of what occurred, she said.

"The administrative law aspects of this are massive in terms of fair and just governance and a very big precedence has been set," she said.

"We would hope ministers and bureaucrats apply the lessons learnt from all of this."

Mr Manicaros agreed.

The decision not to appeal was very much a common sense one, he said.

SEE: Morrison Government will not appeal

"We had been receiving mixed signals out of Canberra but there was a concerted effort on behalf of industry and through The Nationals to get this result," he said.

"We understand it was the Prime Minister himself who made the decision in the end.

"We believe the Government has looked at the broader picture - that the people didn't want an appeal. From that point of view, our industry takes strength from the fact it will not be likely something like this will ever be repeated.

"The industry was correcting the issues when it was shut down.That's where the real failure was. But what has happened now says a government simply can not take knee jerk reactions where a billion dollar industry is at stake."

ALSO READ: Ludwig at fault: Producers win court case

Producers beg PM: Let the case lie

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