Live Export

Live sheep export bill passes House of Representatives

Sheep Central June 26, 2024

The House of Representatives has passed legislation to ban the live export of sheep by seas from 1 May 2028.

LEGISLATION to ban live sheep exports by seas on 1 May 2028 has passed the House of Representatives today, with the sheep industry now focused on getting a Senate inquiry into the trade phaseout and shoring up any crossbench support for the Senate vote tonight.

The 1 May 2028 end date for the export of live sheep by sea from Australia is now a step closer to being set in law, with the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024 passing the House of Representatives today and moving on to the Senate for a vote tonight.

The Federal Government said the passage of legislation also brings the $107 million transition support package for the Australian sheep supply chain another step closer to being available; however, the results has been roundly criticised by the Nationals, livestock exporters and the sheep industry.

The bill’s passage also sparked a call from Nationals leader David Littleproud, encouraging MPs and Senators to cross the floor to oppose the bill.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the Albanese Government was delivering on its election commitment to the Australian people.

“The passage of this bill will provide certainty to all stakeholders and enable the roll-out of the programs under the transition support package to begin in the next financial year,” he said.

“Our transition plan strikes a balance between improving sheep welfare and providing time for a sustainable pathway for sheep farmers, the supply chain participants and communities in Western Australia, and for our trading partners to adjust.

“Currently the live sheep export by sea industry is worth just $77 million to the national economy, while sheep meat exports are worth $4.5 billion a year, and that figure is growing,” Mr Watt said.

“In addition to those exports, domestic demand for sheep products is up to $3.5 billion.

“Ending live sheep exports by sea marks a considerable step forward for animal welfare, while capitalising on opportunities to create more jobs onshore in sheep meat processing,” he said.

“The Australian Government is committed to seeing Australia’s domestic and international sheep meat markets continue to grow and offer more opportunities to Australian producers and processors.

“There is a strong future for the Western Australian sheep industry, with more sheep meat processing creating hundreds of local jobs and greater benefit to the local economy.”

Bill’s passing is ‘political bastardry’ – ALEC

Peak livestock exporters body, the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, branded the passing the bill as an act of “political bastardry.”

ALEC chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton made the claim while declaring the industry would continue to fight the proposed trade ban.

“This is an outrage, which hasn’t been seen by Australian agriculture in decades and industry will continue to fight the ban.

“We would welcome a Senate inquiry to examine this entirely unfair nature of the bill, which has no scientific basis at all,” he said.

“We are appalled at the haste this bill, which has been shoved through the House of Representatives.

“Many of the 10,000 submissions (to a House inquiry) were dismissed out of hand and went unread and unanswered,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“How can the government say it has adequately considered the damage this bill will do?”

Mr Harvey-Sutton said the bill needed the scrutiny of a Senate Inquiry as foreshadowed by Minister Watt at Senate Estimates.

He said such an inquiry “absolutely needed to examine the merits of the ban, not just how to do it.”

“This move is a slap in the face to Australian farmers and ignores the needs of our growing overseas markets.

“The ridiculous speed and lack of transparency demonstrated by the government is an outrage,” he said.

“It is a process that should make any Australian who works in an industry pursued by activists, unfortunately need to look over their shoulder. Will it be your industry and job next?”

RSPCA welcomes bill passing

The RSPCA welcomed the passage of the bill and RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said: “This is a historic moment in Australia’s history that brings us closer than ever before to a legislated end to this cruel and unfixable trade.”

“We commend the Federal Government for listening to the science, doing the right thing and keeping their commitment to the Australian community.

“The evidence supporting this position is overwhelming,” he said.

“Moving ahead with the legislation follows decades of evidence and consistent recommendations for the phase out of live sheep export on animal welfare grounds.

“No amount of regulation has been able to address the welfare issues inherent to live sheep export.”

“It’s not often that the RSPCA calls for an end to a practice entirely, but live sheep export is unfixable. To put it simply – if it was fixable, it would have been fixed by now.”

Mr Mussell called on Senators, “as their colleagues in the House have done – to pass this legislation without delay so that we can finally start moving towards a better future for Australian sheep.”

Littleproud’s call to cross the floor

Nationals leader David Littleproud said just as Labor Members of Parliament were given the green light to cross the floor on the recognition of Palestine statehood, “Labor Members and Senators could have full confidence crossing the floor to vote down the disastrous Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Export by Sea) Bill 2024.”

Mr Littleproud said while Labor elected representatives had previously feared being reprimanded if they crossed the floor, the Prime Minister’s precedent set yesterday meant any Labor MP or Senator could now take a stand on live sheep exports.

Mr Littleproud said Labor MPs should vote for common sense and for a trade that is crucial to our economy, as well as food security overseas.

“During debate we have already heard from Teal Independent MP Zali Steggall, who, in her support of Labor’s Bill, declared live exports of cattle should be next.

“The Nationals have been warning this bill will only encourage animal activists to expand their destruction of agriculture and this week our worst fears are being realised with cattle confirmed as the next target for activists and Independents including the inner-city MPs who have no understanding of agriculture,” he said.

“Labor MPs and Senators can cross the floor today and stop Labor’s senseless destruction of the live sheep export industry.”

Mr Littleproud reiterated that a future Coalition Government would reverse the terrible policy and reinstate the live sheep export trade.”



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  1. David Griggs, June 26, 2024

    As a producer myself from another state, we need to get out of the past. If producers do not start farming in a more ethical way we will lose consumer trust and respect. Then when taxpayers are asked to support farmers during major events, eg. fires, floods etc, they will resist.

  2. Katrina Love, June 26, 2024

    You could hardly say that Labor MPs have been given the green light. Senator Payman crossing the floor to vote in line with her beliefs did not contravene any Labor policy.
    A Labor senator crossing the floor to vote against a Labor policy taken to two federal elections, i.e. the live sheep phase-out, would be another matter altogether. Voting against policy, voting against science, voting against expert opinion, voting against community expectations and voting to #Keep The Sheep suffering, would likely be inexcusable.

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