Cattle wait to board a ship for live export at Karumba Port during better days.

Live export plans scuttled

PLANS to resume live export from the Karumba Port this month have been scuttled, with proponents unable to gain the permits required to send ships out through the channel.

South East Asian Livestock Services had hoped to send two shipments from the port in January on the highest tides of the month.

Each vessel would have carried about 2000 head to Indonesia in what would have been the first live export boats to load cattle at Karumba Port in six months, due to ongoing debate around dredging the channel.

SEALS principal John Kaus he was disappointed that the correct permits were unable to be secured to go ahead with the plan.

Instead, the 4000 head of cattle sourced from the North Queensland and Gulf region, have been shipped out through Darwin’s Port.

“They have gone out of Darwin instead and Queensland is missing out,” Mr Kaus said.

He said each shipment was worth about US $2 million to the government, which had been injected into the Northern Territory economy rather than Queensland.

Mr Kaus said the boat they had  commissioned had been in Karumba Port 26 times without any hassles and he was frustrated that the plan did not go ahead.

“We went and had a look at the channel to really identify the real problems and it’s not as big as it looks,” Mr Kaus said.

“It’s not the whole channel, there’s only a couple of areas or bends that are creating a problem.”

The export plan came after a meeting was held in Karumba in mid-December with port users and stakeholders who raised their concerns about underutilisation of the port with Traeger MP Robbie Katter.

Karumba Live Export manager Dean Bradford said the last live export boat to leave Karumba was in July, making it the longest period he had experienced without a live export vessel docking barring the live export ban.

Mr Bradford said resuming live export would benefit the whole town.

"It's quite good for the town when the ships are in, they get buy all their stores and produce from locals in town and all that sort of thing,” he said.

He said there was no argument that the channel needed dredging and frustrations were building.

“Everyone has got their own idea, but we basically just need someone to pull the trigger and say this is the way we’ve got to do it, and get on with it,” Mr Bradford said.

Mr Kaus said foreign investors were showing interest in Karumba and the future would be bright with government support.

He said he believed the State Government should apply for funding through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to dredge the channel and improve facilities.

“We want to develop the North and here’s the opportunities.”

Mr Kaus said he was now working with other stakeholders on alternative solutions to resume live export from Karumba and better utilise the port.

A Ports North spokeswoman said Ports North was seeking new opportunities for Karumba Port.

“Ports North is continuing to work on developing new bulk trade opportunities through Karumba and are engaging with a range of agricultural and mineral commodity industries as potential future Karumba exports.”

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