Thousands of Aussie meatworks jobs going

AS Australian abattoir workers have faced mass lay-offs the Federal Government has spent millions training foreign workers to kill the country's livestock.

Recently workers at Ipswich's Dinmore meatworks became the latest victims of a downturn in the industry with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees' Union confirming 2000 employees had been stood down without pay.

The company which runs the abattoir - JBS - cited a lack of available cattle to slaughter as the reason for the job cuts.

Previously unpublished data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that as the meat processing industry was witnessing mass lay-offs the number of cattle exported from Queensland has more than doubled - from 91,515 in 2010 to 224, 684 in 2015.

And now the live export trade is set to rise even further as China readies new ports and feedlots to take our cattle. 

AMIEU Branch Secretary, Matt Journeaux said the emergence of East Asia in the live export industry would be likely to see more Australians lose their jobs in meatworks across the country.

"Forty abattoirs have shut since live export started and that's just in the northern parts of Australia," Mr Journeaux said.

 "Around 1.38 million cattle are sent overseas every year, this Chinese market could double that."

Australian Livestock Exporters' Council CEO Alison Penfold denied there was any causal link between the live export boom and lay-offs in Queensland meatworks.

Instead Ms Penfold pointed towards recent droughts as reducing the number of cattle across the country and therefore the demand for abattoir workers.

"Operational decisions that abattoirs are taking now are about bottoming out from the high throughput levels, due to lower levels of stock availability as the national cattle herd has plummeting to a 20-year low," she said.

According to ALEC's website, more than 9,000 people have been trained in handling and slaughter practices in 23 foreign markets over the past five years.

And the Federal Department of Agriculture has confirmed it has provided $13.5 million worth of grant funding which helped peak bodies - Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp - train foreign workers in animal handling and slaughter.

Despite confirming thousands of offshore workers had been trained in slaughter practices a spokeswoman for the Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce denied taxpayer dollars were subsidising sending Australian jobs overseas. 

"The Australian Government is working to ensure job opportunities for people in regional towns," she said.

"The industry is important for Australia-not just for income and jobs, but also as a contributor to the Australian economy, for the support it provides for regional communities, especially rural and remote communities, as well as supporting Australia's trade relationships.

"Both the Australian public and the Government expect workers in destination markets to use humane animal handling practices.

"If that means the Government and the live export industry has to help fund training for these workers then this is what we should do and is what we have been doing.

"Livestock exports are an important, ongoing trade for Australia.

"Only eight per cent of Australian cattle are exported as live cattle; 92 per cent of Australian cattle slaughtered are processed domestically in abattoirs in Australia.

"When live sheep and goats are included, the live export industry makes up approximately just 12 per cent of Australia's red meat exports.​​"