JOB FEARS: Meatworks suspended from shipping to China
THE Dinmore meatworks, one of Ipswich's biggest employers, has been suspended from shipping meat to China.
In a statement, JBS Australia said it was informed yesterday by the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) that two of its beef processing facilities have been suspended from shipping product produced after May 12 to China.
These included the Dinmore processing plant and Beef City, half an hour west of Toowoomba.
"We understand there are also two other Australian beef processing facilities that have also been suspended by China," the statement read.
"DAWR has informed that the Chinese suspensions relate to a range of technical issues.
"JBS Australia is firstly working with DAWR to understand the technical issues that China has raised and secondly, based on understanding the issues we will be responding through corrective actions with DAWR."
JBS Australia did not comment on how this will impact workers and the several employees the QT spoke to said they were clear what this meant for their futures.
A spokesman for Premier and Trade Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said she has asked Agricultural Minister Mark Furner to seek clarification from the Federal Government.
"Queensland's Agricultural Coordination Group, which includes representatives from the beef industry, will meet on Wednesday," he said.
According to JBS' website, the Dinmore meatworks is the largest beef plant in the southern hemisphere with a daily production of 3400 head a day.
It has an on-site staff base of more than 2000 people.
The move comes amid escalating tensions between Australia and China due to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's push for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak.
The Weekly Times reported that sources are saying Chinese authorities are blaming a technical issue, possibly in relation to labelling, for the suspension of the abattoirs.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was not the first time China has imposed suspensions due to issues related to labelling and health certificate requirements.
"(China) have done this before," he said.
"They've got strict requirements. It's not the first time China have suspended our exports.
"What the government has got to do is work with the opposition, work with industry, work with the unions and the Chinese government to try and resolve these issues.
"There's legitimate questions to be asked about the COVID-19 issues and the independent inquiry but there are impacts that we're feeling locally.
"The government has got to work cooperatively for a comprehensive solution to this. It's too important for local jobs. We need to save these jobs."
Mr Neumann said it was a delicate situation with Australia's largest trading partner but a solution needed to be found soon.
"The relationship with China is extremely important but it's complex and challenging," he said.
"We need to make sure we don't disengage with China, that's really important.
"This is critical to local jobs. There are 2000 people who work at the JBS plant at Dinmore."
Mr Neumann said he understood about 30 per cent of the products produced at Dinmore are exported to China.
He has spoken to JBS Australia director John Berry.
"At the moment, there is chilled product going to China that precedes May 12," Mr Neumann said.
"That product will continue to go. If you lose that, it will have an impact on local jobs.
"Market access is really, really important for local jobs."