Live Export

Confirmation of AJP preference deal done on live sheep exports

Terry Sim, May 13, 2024

Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt at Senate Estimates in February – no knowledge of preference deals.

THE Animal Justice Party has confirmed it did a preference deal with the Albanese Government to secure its policy to phase out live sheep exports by sea, just months after Agriculture Minister Murray Watt claimed at Senate Estimates he had no knowledge of such deals.

And the AJP on Saturday also said it was also in negotiations with major parties for the upcoming Federal Election, including “making the end of live cattle export the next AJP policy and political win.”

On Saturday, the Animal Justice Party said in a media release on its website that it helped secure the federal seat of Dunkley in Victoria for the Albanese Government in March with a preference deal demanding the end of live sheep exports.

The Animal Justice Party how to vote card in the Dunkley by-election.

The Dunkley by-election was won by the ALP’s Jodie Belyea from Coalition candidate Nathan Conroy by a margin of 5.4 percent — 52.7pc vs 47.3pc, after the ALP secured 41.1pc of first preference votes and the Coalition 39.2pc, but with the assistance of the AJP putting the ALP candidate at #2 on their ticket. The Greens got 6.4pc of first preference votes, the Independents 4.7pc and the AJP 3.1pc.

After Mr Watt announced the May 2028 phaseout date for live sheep exports by seas on Saturday, the AJP bragged in a media release that it delivered “the knockout blow” to the trade “by demanding the end of live sheep export as a requirement for our preferences at the Dunkley By-election in March.”

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

However on 13 March, Mr Watt told Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie in a Senate Estimates hearing that he did not know of any preference deal done with the AJP in Western Australia.

“For starters, I don’t know.

“Secondly, preference negotiations are handled by party officers rather than ministers,” Mr Watt told the hearing.

Mr Watt said he had certainly heard a number of people in the industry claim that preference deals were behind the ALP’s live sheep phaseout policy, “but I’ve never seen evidence.”

“I’ve never seen any evidence to support that claim,” Mr Watt said.

When Senator McKenzie referred to comments about potential preference deals made by WAFarmers president John Hassell, Mr Watt said he doesn’t know what preference negotiations occurred with any party.

“I’m not involved in those. As I’ve pointed out before, this is a policy we’ve taken to two elections, not just one.”

When Mr Watt was asked if the state Labor Party does the preference deals in a federal election or if it is the party’s federal director, he said: “I genuinely don’t know. I’m not involved in those.”

Ongoing conversations with Labor leadership – AJP

The AJP release heralded the decision to phaseout the live sheep trade by seas by May 2028 as a “historic win”.

“The work of the Animal Justice Party, alongside various animal rights organisations, has mounted political pressure to the point where live export is no longer accepted by the majority of Australians,” the AJP release 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 release said.

“While we wish the phase-out will happen more quickly, our contributions to securing financial support and certainty around transition dates mean there is no turning back!

“Everyone should be proud of their work leading to today’s remarkable win for the AJP. However, we know the job is not yet complete,” the AJP said.

“We are already in deep preference negotiations with major parties for the upcoming federal election, laser-focused on:

  • Ensuring Labor enshrines the end of the trade in law before the election;
  • Making the end of live cattle export the next AJP policy and political win; and
  • The Coalition parties committing to end live export as a requirement for discussions.

“Ending this needless cruelty has required the work of many groups and individuals over many years. However, every AJP member should today take a moment to be proud of our key players – and the instrumental role played by our Party in this massive leap forward for animal rights.

“Today is truly for the animals,” the AJP concluded.

Senator McKenzie said the Albanese Government’s disdain for regional Australia is palpable.

“Labor does not care for the farmers and producers, previously it was the cattle industry and now it is the sheep industry in the firing line of a government who does not value this industry who are so incredibly vital to our nation’s success and economy.”

Mr Watt has reiterated that he personally did not do any preference deals with the Animal Justice Party, but the minister did not refute, on behalf of the ALP, the Animal Justice Party claim that it did a preference deal with the ALP on live sheep export policy prior to the Dunkley by-election.

“I have made no deals with the Animal Justice Party,” Mr Watt said.

“We first made our commitment to phase out live sheep exports five years before the Dunkley by election.”

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Comments

  1. David Grant, May 17, 2024

    What a bloody joke. How can the be any loyalty in everyday people when we have the government so dishonest and cunning as a low-life fox?
    This government needs to go. How can they just put a line through an industry that gives so many jobs and $$$$$ to the Australia coffers, but are happy to listen to people that never laid a hand on a sheep and live in their glass houses?
    More sheep die in a six-week period in paddocks throughout Australia than on five boat loads to other countries. The live export industry has gone over hurdle after hurdle to make this industry the best in the world, so come on Australia let’s get this outrageous decision overturned and piss this government off.

  2. Katrina Love, May 15, 2024

    It’s rather disingenuous to describe either the Dunkley by-election or the 2022 election agreements that Labor did with AJP as “preference deals” – especially regarding the Dunkley by-election, given preferences have never been able to be allocated by a party for lower house elections, as all voters must number all boxes on the House of Representatives ballot.

    Group voting tickets were abolished for federal Senate elections prior to the 2016 election, so again, preferences cannot be allocated by a party.

    At best, it’s an undertaking to place one party higher than others on a How To Vote cards (HTVs), that most voters ignore.

    Regardless of that fact, Labor introduced its live sheep export ban policy prior to the 2019 election and no “preference deals” were made back then in return for animal welfare/protection commitments.

    There were promises made prior to the 2022 election to place Labor higher on HTVs in SOME lower house seats and above Greens on HTVs for the Senate in some states in an attempt to assist them over the line.

    The rationale for that was explained to members and supporters at the time.

    Those commitments made by Labor included commitments on (in brief):

    * the summer ban on sheep exports – will not roll it back like the government
    * animal protection such as IOAW
    * renewed animal welfare strategy
    * a reef policy for vulnerable species
    * koala protection
    * plant protein food sector
    * rewilding agricultural land
    * addressing increased reserves and biodiversity loss.

    Hardly anything your average Joe or Josephine, including those living and working rurally, would get upset about

    Labor was dragging their feet on announcing whether it would or would not repeat the live sheep ban policy for the 2022 election, and at the time of the commitment made by AJP on HTV placement, it was not on the table. They announced that decision at the very last minute.

    Any pressure applied to Labor to set a date and legislate in this term of government came primarily from a coalition of 10 well-respected animal protection organisations of which AJP was not one, a few independent vets and subject matter experts (including me), with input and advice from some New Zealand organisations.

    Ultimately, ‘if’ the AJP how to vote cards for Dunkley had any influence on how people voted, and helped a Labor MP retain their seat, so what? The commitment to end live sheep exports was made in 2019 and renewed in 2022 without AJP influence.

  3. David Connolly, May 15, 2024

    I’m glad that many people are starting to understand that this decision to ban the live export of sheep is more about a Federal Government pandering to activists based on flawed ideologies. If this government can do a deal to get preferences with little regard to the human cost of the decision then look out any form of agriculture. What’s next, Roundup, pig production, cotton, cattle live export, irrigation etc etc

  4. Jeff Murray, May 14, 2024

    Still numb with disbelief. We have worked to provide clean food for the world. Less sheep die on a live sheep boat than passengers on a cruise ship.
    Better stop cruising.

  5. Daryl Brunt, May 14, 2024

    I always felt that “preferences” undermine democracy – particularly in Australia. This sort of stuff disgusts me.

  6. Bob McKeon, May 14, 2024

    Get rid of preferences; first past the post wins. Farmers should not be dictated to by a small minority of idealistic people who don’t understand market forces. Farmers are hard working, thinking Australians. These decisions will put them over the edge with mental health. Why why? UnAustralian.

  7. Glenn nix, May 14, 2024

    If this is all true then Watt and Albo need to go. Shutting down industries to get votes is appalling. Live cattle next, then things like chemicals, Roundup, then anything unpopular or that is cause célèbre with teal voters or Greens. Rule of the ignorant.

  8. John Wyld, May 13, 2024

    Yet again, this demonstrates the power of a small minority when used politically. The same tactics are attacking red meat generally using the climate catastrophist weapon.
    The silent majority are impotent unless we wake up and mobilise and focus our scarce resources more productively.

    • Katrina Love, May 15, 2024

      It’s rather disingenuous to describe either the Dunkley by-election or the 2022 election agreements that Labor did with AJP as “preference deals” – especially regarding the Dunkley by-election, given preferences have never been able to be allocated by a party for lower house elections, as all voters must number all boxes on the House of Representatives ballot.

      Group voting tickets were abolished for federal Senate elections prior to the 2016 election, so again, preferences cannot be allocated by a party.

      At best, it’s an undertaking to place one party higher than others on a How To Vote cards (HTVs), that most voters ignore.

      Regardless of that fact, Labor introduced its live sheep export ban policy prior to the 2019 election and no “preference deals” were made back then in return for animal welfare/protection commitments.

      There were promises made prior to the 2022 election to place Labor higher on HTVs in SOME lower house seats and above Greens on HTVs for the Senate in some states in an attempt to assist them over the line.

      The rationale for that was explained to members and supporters at the time.

      Those commitments made by Labor included commitments on (in brief):

      * the summer ban on sheep exports – will not roll it back like the government
      * animal protection such as IOAW
      * renewed animal welfare strategy
      * a reef policy for vulnerable species
      * koala protection
      * plant protein food sector
      * rewilding agricultural land
      * addressing increased reserves and biodiversity loss.

      Hardly anything your average Joe or Josephine, including those living and working rurally, would get upset about

      Labor was dragging their feet on announcing whether it would or would not repeat the live sheep ban policy for the 2022 election, and at the time of the commitment made by AJP on HTV placement, it was not on the table. They announced that decision at the very last minute.

      Any pressure applied to Labor to set a date and legislate in this term of government came primarily from a coalition of 10 well-respected animal protection organisations of which AJP was not one, a few independent vets and subject matter experts (including me), with input and advice from some New Zealand organisations.

      Ultimately, ‘if’ the AJP how to vote cards for Dunkley had any influence on how people voted, and helped a Labor MP retain their seat, so what? The commitment to end live sheep exports was made in 2019 and renewed in 2022 without AJP influence.

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