Simon Green

Byrne supports live exports, just from Port Alma

THE new Queensland Agriculture Minister has thrown his support behind the state's live export trade - as long as it is not out of Rockhampton's Port Alma.

Speaking at a Rural Press Club lunch in Brisbane on Friday, Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne said he had been "misquoted" as opposing the live export industry.

He said he opposed any proposals to expand live export into Port Alma, which he said could cost the jobs of 2400 people employed in Rockhampton abattoirs.

"The idea of threatening, in some way or another, potentially 2400 in my local community made the choice very clear," he said.

"I recognise that live cattle exports provide a very, very real option and choice for our producers. It contributes significantly to the viability of cattle in the tropics."

However, shadow agriculture minister Deb Frecklington said the agriculture minister did not understand his portfolio - stating the two markets were not competing.

"He's really trying to confuse the issue and have a bet each way," she said.

"We're talking about two different markets and two different types of cattle. Some producers solely produce cattle for live export, some solely for processing, some producers have both."

Mr Byrne said he would not support any measure that could risk Rockhampton jobs - stating the city's economy was already struggling.

"As many of you would know the community economies in most of our regional cities are struggling to one degree or another," he said.

"That's particularly so in Rockhampton - if you walk through the CBD. If you walk through the CBD of many regional towns you'll see many small businesses shutting and vacant shops."

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