AUSTRALIA’S peak livestock exporter body has lodged a freedom of information request for the independent panel’s report into the Albanese Government’s election commitment to phase out live sheep exports by sea.
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said the FOI request has been lodged “in the interests of transparency.”
Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt received the panel’s report on October 25, saying it will be released after consideration by the government.
Mr Harvey-Sutton said the government has indicated it will release the report publicly once it has a chance to consider it via cabinet.
“In all likelihood, this means those most impacted by the report, sheep producers and their communities, won’t know what the panel has recommended until the government works out what is going to do.
“There is no indication when this will be,” he said.
“We would like the report dealt with transparently.
“We know that if the report is honest it will document the immense harm this policy is causing and will reinforce that the only sensible response to the report from the government is a complete reversal of the policy,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.
Mr Watt told Sheep Central the government has always promised a considered and orderly transition.
“A point I have repeated in every meeting I have had with WA sheep producers and their representatives.
“We are hitting new records for the amount of sheep being processed in Australia and we are hitting new records for sheep meat exports,” he said.
“That is a good thing for local producers, processors and regional communities.
We want to see the sheep industry in the west continue to thrive, built on more onshore processing jobs and increasing sheep meat exports,” Mr Watt said.
“The government will now take the time to properly assess all recommendations in the report and develop a responsible response.
“As I have stated previously, the phase out will not be completed in this term of government,” Mr Watt said.
“The report will be released following appropriate consideration by government.
“The government will not be commenting on the details of the report while it carefully considers the recommendations.”