FEDERAL Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s support for the live sheep trade has sparked criticism from the Australian Alliance for Animals.
The alliance today condemned the Liberal Nationals Coalition policy to reinstate the live sheep export trade if it regains government at the next election.
Mr Dutton has told WA media that under his leadership, the Coalition would stand up for critical industries, including the live sheep trade.
“We’ve got the sheep export industry’s back — and we’ll ensure that upholding the highest standards of animal health and welfare occurs, whilst supporting a sustainable live export trade.
“The Prime Minister has got his priorities all wrong for WA, but we will be standing up for what’s in WA’s best interests,” he said.
At the Wagina Woolarama event today and tomorrow, Mr Dutton intended to help WA O’Connor MP Rick Wilson, WA senator Slade Brockman and Agriculture Region MP Steve Martin collect signatures for a petition they started to oppose the proposed phase-out of the trade.
Alliance for Animals’ policy director Dr Jed Goodfellow said the Coalition’s position would harm animal welfare, export Aussie jobs overseas, and would be resoundingly rejected by the Australian community.
“This would be a retrograde step and would take Australian agriculture backwards,” he said.
“The Coalition seems intent on keeping Aussie farming in the dark ages when it comes to animal welfare.
“The last thing the Aussie wool industry wants is for its brand to be tarnished by the international stain that is live sheep exports,” Dr Goodfellow said.
“The Coalition need to see the writing on the wall – the Australian community and international markets want higher standards of animal welfare, and the live sheep trade is incompatible with this.”
Dr Goodfellow said polling commissioned by the RSPCA in 2022 showed that 78pc of Australians surveyed (including 79pc of Western Australians) support a phase out of live sheep exports if farmers are assisted in the process.
“Reinstating the trade after an effective phase out would see Aussie jobs in local processing facilities and further value-adding opportunities exported back to the Middle East,” Dr Goodfellow said.
“Peter Dutton’s stance is ironic given it was the previous Coalition Government that commenced the phase out, with 70pc of the trade declining since 2018 due to new regulations introduced under David Littleproud’s watch.
“Despite all of the regulatory reviews in recent years, sheep still suffer heat stress when traversing the equatorial and Middle Eastern climates, and they’re still slaughtered without stunning,” Dr Goodfellow said.
“The Albanese Government’s policy is simply picking up where the Coalition left off but it’s doing so in a way that provides the industry and the community with more certainty.”
The live export trade has opposed the proposed phase-out, citing improvements in mortality rates, stocking densities and acceptance of a ban on shipments during the Northern Summer period.
I’m not sure that the irrelevance of Dutton can be overstated. He’s preaching to the choir in a state where his party doesn’t even hold Opposition. There are plenty of Liberal voters who want to see live animal exports end – particularly live sheep to the Middle East.
It seems that many are confusing ending the export of fewer than 500,000 sheep from WA – a state with a current flock of around 12 million – with shutting down the sheep industry.
If a decrease from over 6 million sheep exported live in 2001 and 2002 to fewer than 500k in 2022 hasn’t killed the industry, can someone explain how that last 500k will send everyone broke and be the ruination of the WA sheep industry? It’s a long, well-considered, collaborative phase-out – if producers and participants in affected industries choose to be involved – with likely assistance to and support of producers during the transition period.
The government is following the science, statistics, community sentiment, and advice and evidence from multiple animal welfare and protection organisations, including, but not limited to: Animals Australia, Australian Alliance for Animals, RSPCA, Humane Society, Australian Veterinary Association, Vets Against Live Export, Voiceless, and World Animal Protection, whilst the industry and those who support the continuation of the cruelty and suffering are letting emotions rule.
To explain where the six million sheep have gone farmers have got rid of them to put more crop in. Which they can do in the wheatbelt, but you don’t get a sheep rotation, so the paddocks are continually cropped. So you might have to try and stop cropping as well.
Who is this Goodfellow? There are no exported jobs. Meatworks can’t cope with what they have. They can’t get enough workers. There are 500,000 wethers that can’t find a home now and meatworks don’t want them. Sheep prices have fallen $100 each, but prices in shops have not fallen. They can’t truck them east as the cost of fuel has doubled. Live export keeps farmers producing and in the game by keeping money in the system through competition. I was paid $2 a head for rams after ESCAS and the year before $98. I was offered $4 when scabby mouth stopped the trade and the week before they were worth $40. Farmers will stop producing and meatworks will dry up if we get those prices for long.