Labor to end live sheep exports, but no compensation pledge

Terry Sim, May 3, 2018

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon.

LABOR agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has refused to say whether the party would include compensation for affected farmers in its plan to phase-out the live sheep export trade.

Mr Fitzgibbon confirmed that if Labor was elected at the next Federal election it would implement a strategic Red Meat Industry Plan that included the phasing out of live sheep exports.

The Labor position on live sheep exports was clarified today as Animals Australia and RSPCA Australia each committed $500,000 toward a structural adjustment package for producers if the Turnbull government pursued a phase-out of the trade.

Labor’s announcement was welcomed by Animals Australia and RSPCA Australia; however, WAFarmers said there was a need to stop any cruelty, not the trade. The Western Australian farmer body stood firm in supporting the Federal Government’s McCarthy Review into live sheep exports during northern summer months.

“The review’s findings are due next week, and we urge any decisions of real significance to await that report.

“Until then, we remind all of government and the wider public that a ban is not the answer,” WA Farmers president Tony York said.

“The livelihoods of farmers and the health of their communities across the nation would be put at significant risk by a ban, especially so for Western Australian producers who represent 85 percent of the national trade.”

Labor’s phase-out to benefit farmers – Fitzgibbon

In an interview with 5AA Radio Adelaide’s Leon Byner, Mr Fitzgibbon today said the party was committed to its Red Meat Industry Plan, to lift farmer profits, add more value and create jobs in Australia, by exporting quality chilled and frozen red meat.

“We want a better deal for farmers, a better deal for the economy and more jobs for Australians and of course better animal welfare standards.

“We don’t (want) to force a transition or force this live sheep sector out of business; we want to work with the sector towards that transition,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“The day we are in government we will begin the process with farmers and the sector more broadly to phase the live export out over time.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said the ALP believes a live export trade phase-out will take “not months but years, but it should not take anything like a decade.”

“We need to begin this transition now and do it in an orderly way so that our farmers aren’t adversely affected.

“In fact, I think they can benefit from it,” he said.

“So let me be clear — We see a future for sheep meat producers.

“We see a bright future for meat processing here in Australia,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“We see a bright future for jobs in that industry, but Labor does not see a future for the live sheep export sector.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said what pushed him to Labor’s live sheep export position this week were exporter statements that the August 2017 incident in which about 2400 heat-stressed sheep died en route to the Middle East was due to a “catastrophic heat event,” out of exporters’ control.

Mr Fitzgibbon said Mr Littleproud had “gone missing” on live export issues and some reviews of the industry won’t be completed until after the election.

“It became clear to me he wasn’t serious – we believe this is the right thing to do.”

He believed sheep meat producers would benefit from a re-focus onto premium markets, but when asked if the Labor plan would include compensation for affected farmers, Mr Fitzgibbon said: “One way or the other I want the farmers to be the winners out of this.”

“My determination is to produce a greater outcome for the Australian economy, a greater outcome for Australian jobs, a greater outcome for animal welfare and for sheep meat producers.”

Labor has rushed to a knee-jerk band – Littleproud

Mr Littleproud said the McCarthy review into the Middle Eastern summer sheep trade is due in two weeks.

“With the science just two weeks away, Labor has rushed to a knee-jerk ban, punishing farmers who have done no wrong,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Those farmers and businesses still traumatised by Labor’s snap ban on live exports in 2011 must be tearing their hair out.

“Labor does not have the temperament to lead this country as it refuses to wait for the evidence.”

Mr Littleproud said on April 19, just more than two weeks ago, Labor leader Bill Shorten said of the McCarthy Review: “We will honour our commitment to await its findings.”

“Today he broke that commitment for a political stunt.

Labor had also broken its commitment to move forward in a bipartisan way so any solution would not change when government next changes.

“I said on day one: if the rules weren’t broken, they need changing.

“If people have done the wrong thing, they should be nailed,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The independent regulator must work through that in a sensible, methodical way.

“Rushing investigations and cutting corners does not lead to successful court results or penalties.”

Mr Littleproud said the farmers whose lives Labor is playing with are real people with real children and real bills to pay.

“It’s amazing how quickly Labor has forgotten 2011 (when the Labor government stopped cattle exports to Indonesia).”

Knee jerk reactions are not the answer – ALEC

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive officer Simon Westaway said it was ALEC supported the McCarthy Review and it is important its findings are not pre-empted.

“Knee-jerk reactions are not the answer.

“The welfare of the animals and the livelihoods of Australian farmers rely substantially on a rational, evidence-based response that delivers long-term change, he said.

“If live sheep exports were to cease, Australia would be neglecting its responsibility as a world leader in animal welfare and the driver of ongoing improvement of global livestock practices.

“The sweeping reforms endorsed by ALEC members on April 18 proves our industry is following through on our promise to drive cultural change,” Mr Westaway said.

“We are embracing reduced summer stocking densities, independent observers on voyages and using the latest science to measure livestock welfare.

“We are united with farmers in our commitment to strengthen welfare safeguards and we invite political and welfare representatives to sit-down with us to discuss the importance of maintaining an ethically and economically sustainable live sheep trade.”

ALP commitment to phase out live sheep trade welcomed

Animals Australia lead investigator Lyn White said Australians overwhelmingly want the live sheep trade to end.

“It’s pleasing that the ALP has had the vision to recognise that there is a pathway forward that will be better for farmers, the economy and animals.

“The live sheep trade cannot be fixed and cannot be made humane,” she said.

“Proactively planning for a future without live sheep export, and supporting producers during the transition, makes sense on all fronts.”

Liberal MP Sussan Ley, who is planning a Private Members’s Bill to phase-out long haul live sheep exports, said she didn’t need Labor’s “hastily cobbled together announcement” to convince her of the level of support there is for phasing out the trade. She has not conversations with Labor about her proposed Bill.

“A sensible orderly transition should certainly address the issues affecting producers in Western Australia.

“However, my expectation is that in the medium term, an increase in domestic processing capacity and the ongoing expansion in sheep and lamb exports makes the future of this industry bright.”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Jan Kendall, May 6, 2018

    I’m from a farming family. I wouldn’t want to send my sheep on those death ships. In 2017, some 12,377 sheep died horrible deaths. That is more than 1000 sheep a month. That is ok is it?

  2. Glenn Nix, May 4, 2018

    And how exactly is Joel going to get me more money for my shipping sheep? Details please, not feel good waffle.

  3. Brad Bellinger, May 4, 2018

    The only thing that needs phasing out is the Australian Labor Party. The Labor party’s hatred of farmers manifests itself in the theft of land through draconian native vegetation laws and the shutdown of vital export markets. Bill Shorten’s statement this morning that livestock exports are “unsustainable long term” belies the fact that we have been exporting live sheep for nearly 50 years. We had to shoot 30 million sheep because Labor minister John Kerin overnight abolished the reserve price scheme and put in place a 30 percent wool tax to further economically ruin us. Joel Fitzgibbon is on record as saying that he believes that a corporate farming model is more efficient than the family farming model. Of course, the Communist Labor party will not give farmers compensation; they want to wipe us out.

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -