FEDERAL Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has ignored a suggestion that pressure from the Greens led to the government rejecting recommendations to ease live sheep Northern Summer shipment restrictions for some Middle East destinations.
The Albanese Government has chosen not to implement date-related recommendations made in the final report of the ‘Review of live sheep exports by sea to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer’.
Nationals leader David Littleproud last week said the Department of Agriculture’s review recommended ways to improve animal welfare.
“The review makes several date-related recommendations to reduce the prohibition period during the Northern Hemisphere summer to certain destinations where heat stress risks are less than previously understood.
“These recommendations will not be implemented,” the review report said.
Mr Littleproud has questioned why the recommendations would not be implemented.
“Minister Murray Watt said he was banning live sheep exports because of the science – now not only will he not table that science, he’s ignoring the independent regulators science and needs to detail why.
“Why has the Government declined to accept the recommendations, to shorten the prohibition periods for Oman and destinations in the Red Sea?” the Nationals leader said.
“We suspect this is due to pressure from the Greens – consistent with Labor’s election pledge to shut down live sheep exports.
“The fact the Government is ignoring live sheep export advice is extremely concerning.”
Government approach aimed at live sheep phase-out
Mr Watt told Sheep Central that the Government had made it clear that it intended to implement the election commitment to phase out live sheep exports.
“But we will do that in an orderly way, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders.
“We will consult on how we implement the commitment and over what time frame, because we want to seize opportunities to create more export dollars and regional jobs, especially through more onshore meat processing,” Mr Watt said.
Mr Littleproud said any plan to halt the live sheep export trade would destroy 3000 Australian jobs.
“The department is supposed to be the independent regulator of the live sheep industry.
“There is demand for live animal exports, not only on a cultural basis, but also on the basis that other countries don’t have the cold storage facilities needed,” he said.
“This is a food security issue for those countries.
“Our live sheep export trade is worth $107 million in 2021-22, increasing to $119 million next year,” he said.
“Continuing this trade is common sense because it is crucial for our country.”