CATTLE producers have won a class action against the Commonwealth government, after the Federal Court ruled a 2011 live export ban imposed by then agriculture minister Joe Ludwig was unlawful.

In the case of Brett Cattle Company Pty Ltd v Minister for Agriculture, Justice Stephen Rares ruled Mr Ludwig acted with “misfeasance” when the government introduced the ban.

Justice Rares said the ban order was “capricious” and “unreasonable”.

“I am comfortably satisfied, based on the whole of the evidence, that the Minister was recklessly indifferent as to first, the availability of his power to make the Ban Order in its absolutely prohibitory terms without providing any power of exception and, secondly, as to the injury which the order, when effectual, was calculated to produce,” Justice Rares said.

Class-action spokeswoman Tracey Hayes said the ban was “an attack on the industry by our own Commonwealth”.


“The truth is, the shutdown was not required,” Ms Hayes told the ABC.

“To enact the changes needed in some offshore facilities, it simply was not necessary.”

Ms Hayes also called on the Commonwealth to not proceed with an appeal on today’s decision.

In a statement, agriculture minister David Littleproud acknowledged the result of the action.

“I acknowledge the decision that has been made by the Federal Court,,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The government will now carefully work through the judgement before making any further comment.”