MORE than 1000 Western Australian sheep industry stakeholders met with the independent live sheep export phaseout panel last week.
Despite statements from the Australian Livestock Exporters Council and grower bodies that they would not consult with the panel about the proposed phaseout, stakeholders across regional WA attended panel meetings from 17-21 April.
A Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry spokesperson said while some stakeholders came prepared to discuss their views about timelines and how the phaseout might be conducted, the town hall-style forums were generally not conducive to that type of in-depth discussion.
A DAFF statement said the panel was appointed by Minister Murray Watt to undertake stakeholder consultation and hear directly from industry—to inform advice on how and when the government will conduct the phaseout.
“Meetings were pursued with local growers’ groups several weeks ahead for that week of consultation in WA to enable the panel to closely listen and engage with a targeted range of individuals, as the panel was mindful to minimise its impact on farmers, many of whom were busy sowing,” the statement said.
“The panel heard peoples’ concerns and apologised for the confusion that resulted, and the unnecessary disruption.
“After strong interest from the community for these meetings to be conducted as open forums, the panel adjusted its approach and warmly welcomed and engaged with everyone who attended in a town hall meeting style.”
Online public forums for a wider audience were always planned and will take place in May 2023, DAFF said.
“The details and dates of the online public forums in May will be promoted widely, including on the department’s website, via social media, and direct communication with industry and other stakeholders.
“All stakeholders are also encouraged to contribute to the consultation process by making a submission here.
Economic impact report deadlines explained
A DAFF spokesperson has also explained why the timeline for expressions of interests and completion of an economic and agronomic impact reports requested by the panel were short.
The phaseout panel on 14 April requested expressions of interest to prepare a detailed on the impact report economic and agronomic impact report by 30 June, with a EOI response deadline of midday on 20 April for a start date four days later.
The panel wants a detailed economic and agronomic assessment of the impact of a phaseout and how to best proceed to provide guidance to the panel in their recommendations to Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt.
The DAFF spokesperson said the department secretariat for the consultation panel is testing the market as to whether there are providers who may wish to provide analysis in support of the panel’s work.
“The firm’s approached are known to hold considerable data and have previously performed analysis.
“The analysis sought by the secretariat for the consultation panel was intended to build upon the selected firms pre-existing knowledge and experience, ameliorating the tight timeframes.”
Sheep Central has been told reports of the detail requested would normally take 6-12 months to complete.
Just to clarify ALEC’s position, we never said we would not engage with the panel. We have said that we would not be engaging in a discussion about how to phase out the industry, but we will be using the consultation as an opportunity to articulate why the policy is wrong. The turn out at these meetings was definitely not in despite of our comments and we believe we have been misrepresented here.
We did a report in early 2000s on values of live export to industry.
I think it was done by Warwick Yates.