Live Export

Animal Justice Party solid behind deal claim, Watt in denial

Terry Sim, May 17, 2024

Animal Justice Party president Louise Pfeiffer

ANIMAL Justice Party leader Louise Pfeiffer is standing behind an AJP claim that it delivered the ‘knockout blow’ to the live sheep trade via a preference deal with the Albanese Government, as Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt continues to deny any deals were done.

And the Prime Minister’s office and the ALP’s national office have been silent on requests for them to refute the Animal Justice Party claim.

After Mr Watt last Saturday announced the phaseout of live sheep export by 1 May 2028, the AJP on its website said: “We are proud that the AJP could deliver the knockout blow by demanding the end of live sheep export as a requirement for our preferences at the Dunkley by-election in March.

“Ongoing conversations behind-the-scenes between AJP and Labor leadership has helped to finetune government policy,” the AJP said.

However, Mr Watt has since claimed no knowledge of a preference deal with the AJP over live sheep export policy and in the Senate on Tuesday this week said the claim is “absolute nonsesne.”

“I’ve seen this argument pushed out over the last few hours by the National Party and some of their supporters in the agricultural sector—that apparently the Labor Party did a deal with the Animal Justice Party for a by-election in 2024 to deliver a commit that we first announced back in 2019.

“We announced the commitment in 2019. We re-announced it in 2022,” Senator Watt said.

“We’ve said all along we’re going to deliver it.

“But apparently it was the preference deal we did in 2024, according to the National Party, that was the killer blow, that was the influence. It is absolute nonsense,” he said.

“It is another misrepresentation by the National Party to prop up a trade that has been in decline for 20 years, particularly while they were in office.”

‘It was hardly a secret’ – Louise Pfeiffer

However, Ms Pfeiffer told Sheep Central this week that ending the cruel live export trade is a long-standing policy objective of the Animal Justice Party.

“So it should come as no surprise that we would engage with the ALP, and other political parties as appropriate, to put our views, represent our members and supporters around the country, and seek to influence policy and election outcomes.

“To its credit, the federal Labor government has recognised that the live sheep trade does not have a social licence or support from most Australians to continue,” Ms Pfeiffer said.

“Time and again the Australian community has seen distressing evidence of the enormous, prolonged, and unnecessary suffering of sheep and other animals in the live export trade.

“We support the federal government’s plans, confirmed in the 2024 Budget, to allocate $107 million towards the phaseout of the live sheep trade, which has been in structural decline for some time,” she said.

“We shared the news of the Minister’s announcement on the live sheep trade phaseout with our members and supporters, updating them on the AJP’s work on their behalf in the recent Dunkley by-election and for the upcoming federal election.

“This statement was also posted on the AJP’s national website, so it was hardly a secret,” Ms Pfeiffer said.

“We won’t be commenting further on preference discussions.”

NFF needs the government to dispute the AJP claim

Before speaking with Mr Watt about the AJP preference deal claim this week, National Farmers Federation president David Jochincke said if the Albanese Government did a deal with the Animal Justice Party over live sheep exports to gain preferences in a by-election and the trade-off was a legitimate industry based in Australia “it is not only disgusting and treasonable to the agricultural community, that this could be even considered let alone done is just wrong.”

“It completely disgusts me and shows no scruples no values and no respect for the people who actually get off their butt every day and work for this country – it is deplorable, despicable and just disgusting.”

“I need the government to come out and openly dispute that.

“If the government has done no deal they need to come immediately and dispute that they ever did a deal with them; they have to distance themselves from that comment as far as possible,” he said.

“And if they do not, there this smoke and if there is smoke there is fire.”

After meeting with Mr Watt later in the week, Mr Jochinke said the minister denied there was any deal done with the Animal Justice Party at the Dunkley by-election.

“He did not do a deal and the party did not do a deal (in the Dunkley by-election) to his knowledge and he also said the Greens do it all the time.

“So how much do we trust him is now the question and we said that trust is at an all-time low,” Mr Jochinke told Sheep Central.

“He has not said that they didn’t do a deal earlier, but he said with the (Dunkley) by-election they did not do a deal with the (AJP) party and I asked him has the Labor party ever done a deal and he didn’t answer directly.

“He (Mr Watt) went on to say that this has been a long-time party policy … and he said because you’ve lost the trust of the population, the population has voted in numerous polls that they don’t trust the industry,” Mr Jochinke said.

Mr Jochinke said Mr Watt reiterated that he fully supported all other agricultural industries, but the live sheep policy was ratified by caucus and taken to the election.

The NFF president conceded that Mr Watt’s position questioned the veracity of the AJP claim, but the NFF leader added he also questioned the aims of the AJP goals on livestock farming and said he “had no idea how to measure this.”

When asked if he had faith that Labor’s policy to retain live cattle exports would be adhered to, Mr Jochinke said “actions are speaking louder than words and there is a lot of trust to be rebuilt.”

“At the moment, I don’t know who to believe.”


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  1. Katrina Love, May 18, 2024

    It’s a non-story. As Watt said, Labor announced the policy to end live sheep exports in 2019, off their own bat.

    No preference deals were done with AJP over the policy then — I was national vice president and WA state convenor and involved in preference negotiations.

    As I’ve stated before, it’s disingenuous to call how to vote card party name placement “preferencing”. The Dunkley by-election, being a House of Representatives election required voters to number every box as they do for every House of Reps election, and there were no group voting tickets and hence no preference allocations by parties for the Senate election in 2022 (or 2019 or 2016). Apart from Victorian Legislative Council elections, parties can no longer allocate preferences to other parties.

    The end date announcement comes as a result of recommendations from the Independent Panel’s report and continued communication with non-political animal protection organisations in Australia,…as much as AJP would like to be able to take the credit.

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