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.”
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Labour will outsource animal welfare to the world – 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.