PREMIER Campbell Newman is in talks to ship up to 150,000 live cattle to Papua New Guinea as foreign aid to solve the state's beef crisis.
Mr Newman headed a trade delegation to PNG yesterday and was part of a briefing to officials about lifting Queensland's beef glut and alleviating his hosts' "protein drought".
Delegates are pushing for live cattle to be sent, rather than cash in an AusAid-funded program to the $500 million-a-year aid recipient.
They visited port facilities, holding yards and processing plants in Port Moresby yesterday to check the capacity of the infrastructure and to assess animal welfare standards.Federal MP Warren Entsch is the mastermind of the plan, backed by Cairns Chamber of Commerce chief Deb Hancock and prominent northwest mayors and graziers.
The Opposition Whip said he had spoken to Mr Newman and Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop about solutions to the crisis facing graziers.
"Clearly, we have to look outside the square," Mr Entsch said.
"Farmers have very, very challenging options and we certainly don't want to see these cattle being destroyed - that, in itself, would be an animal welfare issue of huge proportions.
"Given that PNG is the largest recipient of Australian aid, we could use some of those aid dollars to buy as many as 150,000 of our heavier cattle, especially the breeding females, from our farmers, and send them to PNG to build up their herd.This would be a far more productive option than killing our cattle and then letting PNG buy other countries' products with our aid dollars."
Ms Hancock said the response in PNG was positive.
PNG's national herd is less than 40,000 head of cattle.
More than two million head of cattle in Queensland and the Northern Territory are in limbo because of drought and restrictions from the live export ban in Indonesia.
PNG's Trade Minister Richard Maru told ABC Radio last month:
"Australia has done nothing to help us raise beef here, because it's not in their national interests."
Source: The Courier Mail