CONFIRMATION from Australia’s Prime Minister that live sheep exports by sea would not be phased out in the first term of his government was “a very sensible approach,” the peak exporters body said today.
Prime Minister Albanese told ABC Perth radio today that the phase-out would not occur during the first term of his government.
“No one’s envisaging a phase-out in in this term of government.
“We’ll sit down and we’ll work these issues through cooperatively and respectfully,” Mr Albanese said.
The Albanese Government won the recent election on a platform that included the phasing out of live sheep exports after industry consultation, although no timeline has been confirmed.
However, the Greens have said they would seek a swift phase-out of live sheep exports and an end to live cattle exports also. New Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt has said there are no plans to phase out live cattle exports, although he has been quoted as stating the sheep exports phase-out would also include air shipments.
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ALEC seeks meeting with new Minister for Agriculture
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton told Sheep Central the Prime Minister’s statement indicating an industry reprieve for at least three years and possibly four years, “was a very sensible approach.”
Mr Harvey-Sutton said he had not confirmed the government’s statements on the trade, but ALEC was seeking a meeting with Mr Watt.
“The (Mr Albanese’s) comments are pretty clear and we always understood Labor’s policy was that they intended to engage with industry and also to engage with the State (Western Australian) Government.
“We’ve been very appreciative of the Western Australian Government’s support of the industry in acknowledging its importance and indeed, the improved performance of the industry,” he said.
Mr Harvey-Sutton said ALEC would be relying on the WA Government’s support in its consultation with the Federal Government.
“But I think what the WA Government is doing is simply supporting the facts that are at hand, and that’s what we are doing we are arguing on facts as well.
”Because the performance of the industry speaks for itself, and that’s what we will be putting forward to the Australian Government as well.”
Mr Harvey-Sutton doubted that the proposed phase-out would also include live sheep shipments by air. He hoped to meet with Minister Watt as soon as possible.
No need to kick the can down the road – Greens
However, Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi told Sheep Central there was a need for a clear live sheep trade phase-out timeline.
“There’s no need to kick the can down the road.
“Live sheep export can’t be made safe for the animals,” she said.
“We need a plan and a clear timeline for a phase-out.
“This should be high priority for the new Agriculture Minister, who I will be seeking a meeting with in the new parliament.”
Watt says he is committed to expanding export markets
Mr Watt has told Sheep Central that as the Minister for Agriculture he is “committed to supporting our producers and their communities, protecting their livelihoods, expanding our export markets, and growing Australia’s agriculture industries.”
“My immediate priorities include addressing the massive workforce shortage and biosecurity risks left by the former government.”
Apparently referring to his desire for more domestic processing of sheep rather live exports, Mr Watt said was also keen to progress the industry’s move up the value chain, “by supporting more onshore processing and the jobs it creates.”
“Clearly, working with the industry and rural Australia to manage the effects of climate change – and to grab the opportunities it presents – is another high priority for me and for the Albanese Government.
“I intend to work in close cooperation with farmers, industry groups, unions, rural workers and all other stakeholders to take this great industry forward,” Mr Watt said.
Sounds like you run a few sheep Ms Love.