Minister Watt under fire on live sheep trade comments

Terry Sim, June 6, 2022

ALEC CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton: welcomes trade phase-out reprieve.

EXPORTERS and the Opposition have questioned Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt’s claim that there was no evidence the animal welfare issues with live sheep exports could be addressed.

Mr Watts reportedly told Sky News today there was no evidence the trade’s animal welfare issues could be addressed.

The peak body the Australian Livestock Exporters Council has cited low mortality rates in shipments in recent years, while trade opponents quote independent observer reports outlining ASEL breaches and heat stress incidences up to 2020, after which IOs were not aboard vessels.

ALEC chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said the council would be very keen to understand the evidence the Minister is referring to.

“The industry has plenty of scientific evidence that the trade can be sustained with outstanding animal welfare outcomes.

“Industry are the only ones with this evidence as we gather first hand,” he said.

“The activists have no such first-hand evidence.

“We look forward to meeting with Minister Watt presenting these facts to him.”

Sheep Central: Get our free news straight to your inbox – Click here

Labour will outsource animal welfare to the world – Littleproud

Nationals leader David Littleproud.

Nationals leader and Opposition agriculture spokesman David Littleproud criticised Mr Watt’s statements that he was getting advice from the Department of Agriculture to understand the impact of the Albanese Government’s policy to phase out the trade.

Mr Littleproud said this demonstrates the danger of a Labor Government on Australian agriculture, making decisions based on ideology rather than science and fact.

“Minister Watt justified the Labor Government’s decision to phase out live sheep exports based on animal welfare.

“Yet the reforms the previous Coalition Government put in place, based on science, not only reduced mortality, but improved animal welfare re-enforced by continual monitoring,” he said.

Mr Littleproud also said that the government’s claim the trade was a diminishing industry is false.

“ABARES is predicting Australia’s market share will increase in the coming year and this trade will continue due to, not just cultural reasons, but food security in some of these countries because of refrigeration supply chain issues.”

Mr Littleproud said the Government was effectively prepared to outsource animal welfare standards of sheep to other countries that have lesser welfare standards than Australia.

“Countries with lesser welfare standards will fill the void and take our market share.

“When Mr Watt said today that compensation was also not off the table for sheep producers impacted by a phase out of the industry all he did was remind everyone of Labor’s last live exports bungle which is likely to cost Australian taxpayers nearly $2 billion,” he said.


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. Tom Casey, June 7, 2022

    We will see who’s in charge: McGowan or Albanese.

  2. Katrina Love, June 7, 2022

    Minister Watt – under fire for stating the bleeding obvious. There is no evidence that animal welfare issues with live sheep exports can be addressed. There is evidence that mortality rates can be addressed (thanks for that from the sheep – maybe you could have done it decades ago). The Minister refers to welfare issues and, as always, industry rebuts with mortality rates. See what’s happening here?
    “Animal welfare is not good.”
    “Look over here at our shiny mortality rates.”

    Unless Mr Harvey-Sutton, ALEC and other industry stakeholders bemoaning the statistics, facts and records that “activists” are relying on are saying that those statistics, facts and records supplied by DAWE, ABS and the Independent Observers who are paid by the government are somehow dodgy, they must be taken into account by our new government when considering when the live sheep trade must end.

    IF industry has “plenty of scientific evidence that the trade can be sustained with outstanding animal welfare outcomes” why doesn’t the trade have outstanding animal welfare outcomes? Are the Independent Observers who were on board from April 2018 to June 2020 lying when they recorded and stated that they have observed, heat stress every month of the year, and ASEL breaches including:

    * poor quality feed (including mouldy feed in the troughs)
    * intentionally withholding feed and water
    * ewes lambing on board (shouldn’t have been loaded), * insufficient space/overcrowding
    * insufficient bedding
    * incomplete, incompetent, unnecessary or completely lacking euthanisation
    * sheep euthanised due to infected dog bite wounds (shouldn’t have been loaded)
    * sheep dying from shearing cut wounds (shouldn’t have been loaded)?

    In what universe are these good animal welfare outcomes?

    Let’s hope that in the interim between now and when the live sheep trade DOES end, this government at least upholds ASEL requirements and starts penalising exporters who breach them – certainly the repeat offenders.

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -