Cattle industry calls for open borders amid exemption delays
THE Territory's cattle industry has been crippled by lengthy travel exemption delays and the government needs to either open the border or radically improve the slow bureaucratic process around them, says NT Cattlemen's Association boss Ashley Manicaros.
Mr Manicaros said the pastoral sector had been forced to endure frustrating delays in processing the exemptions since the NT's borders closed in March.
"We have reached the stage where processing can take 20 business days and that exemptions issued at the start now need to be resubmitted due to changes," he said.
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"Despite the inefficiencies and impact on productivity we've managed to keep 10,000 people directly and indirectly employed without a single handout.
"Members of the pastoral sector have not been eligible for any of the COVID-19 assistance and at the same time have had to battle drought conditions."
"The least the NT Government can do is either lift the border restrictions or make it easier for the industry to operate. We can't stay in a system like the one we have until August or September.
"This far in - eight weeks - it is not acceptable that the wrinkles in the system have not been ironed out."
A paper released by Master Builders called Toward a New Economy estimates 13,000 jobs might be lost in the NT.
Mr Manicaros said the cattle industry will be incredibly exposed should the 13,000 people not getting their jobs back at the end of June decide to leave the NT.
He said the likelihood of that occurring escalates every day the borders remain closed.
"We already know that if a person loses their job in the NT they won't stay," he said.
"We may end up being collateral damage to any population drain where couples decide to leave even if one of them has a job in our industry."
Originally published as Cattle industry call for open borders amid exemption delays