Live Export

Sheep and wool bodies can live sheep export bill inquiry

Sheep Central June 24, 2024

Sheep and wool bodies and exporters are continuing to fight live sheep export phaseout legislation before Federal parliament.

AUSTRALIA’S peak sheep and wool producer bodies have described a parliamentary committee decision giving the go-ahead to the Albanese Government’s proposed ban on the live export of sheep by sea as “rushed, unprofessional and thoughtless.”

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture’s advisory report from its inquiry into the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024 to end the trade by 1 May 2028 recommended the bill be passed, but that the proposed $107 million transition package be increased.

Sheep Producers Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner said the bill was seeking to phase out an important supply chain that provided jobs and supported families, small businesses, and country towns.

“This committee-led green light to let the Albanese Government enforce the live export ban of sheep by sea is both flabbergasting and insulting,” Ms Skinner said.

“The people on this committee have not listened to the impact this decision will have on communities or small towns.

“They’re also refusing to read submissions written by producers who have taken time out of their businesses to put their views forward. It’s absurd,” she said.

WoolProducers Australia CEO Jo Hall said she wanted the people sitting in Canberra to think about the respected and hardworking men and women in the sheep industry who underpin regional Australian economies for decades.

“And then I want them to tell us what they’re going to do to replace jobs, put food on tables, and keep schools open – and that’s just for a start.

“They’re offering a ludicrous compensation package which will barely touch the edges of what will be needed to support families and their businesses,” she said.

Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia both said the policy to ban live sheep exports by sea, purportedly to protect the welfare of sheep, was poorly conceived, lacking in evidence, and driven solely by a political agenda.

“The transition package, contingent with the passage of the bill, is inadequate and does not meet the stated objectives of the Albanese Government to grow onshore processing or increase the value of production for Western Australian sheep producers, or protect the industry in any way,” Ms Skinner said.

“The government doesn’t understand the basic economic or competition issues in this space.

“So we are just going to have to keep working our logical, evidence-based positions and see if our politicians can rise above self-interest.”

The two leaders reiterated that the government had not undertaken adequate analysis or due diligence to properly understand or mitigate the negative economic, competition, and social consequences of the ban of live sheep export by sea.

They said there must be a Senate inquiry into the bill, held over an extended period to allow proper consideration of the complex issues associated with the decision, with the opportunity for hearings in the sheep producing and southern cattle regions of Western Australia where local businesses and communities will be affected.

“We won’t stop fighting for what’s right,” Ms Skinner said.

Ms Hall said: “We’re in this to the end and we will continue to support and defend our Western Australian producers.”

Committee used activist talking points – ALEC

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council condemned the Labor-controlled House of Representatives Agriculture committee “for failing to do the right thing and for presiding over a sham inquiry.”

“When we gave evidence to this inquiry, we said we expected it to be a complete waste of time and that no rigorous scrutiny could come from such a hasty process,” ALEC CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said.

“We knew the outcome of this inquiry before it commenced, proving there was no genuine desire to examine the bill.

“However, we challenged the Labor members of the committee to do better than simply toeing the party line as everyone was expecting them to do and to actually genuinely question the merits of this harmful policy,” he said.

“Sadly, we have been proven correct, with the committee report simply reading activist talking points, cherry picking misleading evidence from people that have never set foot on a vessel under current conditions.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said the committee totally ignored basic economics on the impact that the ban will have.

“In addition, they have totally ignored the overwhelming evidence from the Australian agricultural community about the harmful effects of this policy, including over 1100 individual submissions from affected sheep farmers which have been incorrectly mislabelled as pro forma submissions.”

Mr Harvey-Sutton said despite Prime Minister Albanese and Minister Watt describing the transition package as “generous”, the committee has conceded that the government might need to find more money.

“But to do so in 2026 is too late.

“The damage will be done,” he said.

“This clearly demonstrates the government is all over the shop on this ban, and cannot be trusted to act honestly in the interest of WA farmers and their communities.”

“This whole farce of an inquiry has been unjust.”

Mr Harvey-Sutton said farmers urgently need the Senate to do what the government won’t – “stand up for fairness and good governance.”

“We appeal to all Senators to scrutinise this bad bill and ultimately throw it in the bin where it belongs.”

Phaseout can make Australia a world leader in animal welfare – Wilkie

Debate on the bill after its second reading continued in parliament today, with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie welcoming the legislation.

“The industry continues to claim that our country’s animal welfare standards are some of the best in the world, but an analysis undertaken by RSPCA Australia from data by independent observers on more than 53 live sheep export journeys between 2018 and 2023 reveals that sheep continue to suffer terribly,” he said in a release this afternoon.

“Indeed, the analysis found that more than 6500 sheep died onboard these voyages, with there being high levels of starvation, heat stress, injury and illness.

““Alarmingly, the analysis also identified that activities that were inconsistent with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock were reported in approximately 70 per cent of journeys, demonstrating a shocking disregard for the welfare of these sheep,” he said.

“Obviously just tinkering around the edges doesn’t adequately address the welfare risk to these animals, and the only way to end the cruelty is to end the trade.

“Moreover, the live sheep export trade is worth less than $100 million and only accounts for 0.1 per cent of Australia’s agricultural exports.”

Mr Wilkie said a transition to the vastly more lucrative chilled and frozen sheep meat export trade means there will be expanded opportunities for meat processing in Australia and an increase in jobs in Australia’s abattoirs.

“The $107 million government assistance package will help farmers and the industry make this adjustment and refocus their work to more sustainable methods that minimise the cruelty,” he said.

“It’s absurd that the industry is pedalling the nonsense that the welfare of sheep will be better if Australia continues to export them.

“Participating in the trade does not improve global animal welfare standards,” he said.

“This piece of legislation can make Australia a world leader in animal welfare and set an example for other countries to follow.”


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  1. Katrina Love, June 25, 2024

    I’ll just point out here that none of the “farmers” have been on board a ship either. The difference is that many more of us – the ‘activists’, including veterinarians from the Australian Veterinary Association and Vets Against Live Export, representatives from the Australian Alliance for Animals, RSPCA, Animals Australia, Humane Society International, World Animal Protection, plus independent expert consultants – have at least read all of the heat stress studies, reports to parliament, ASEL regulations and amendments, ESCAS rules, World Organisation for Animal Health recommendations, mortality figures, and independent observer reports that clearly demonstrate this trade is unfixable.

    I’ve recently read through the 663 (minus the trade supporter duplicates) published inquiry submissions. It’s evident from many of those submitted by producers, individuals, and indeed, even industry bodies supporting the continuation of the trade, that they actively eschew facts and can overlook any suffering if they can make a few bucks from it.

  2. Frank Byrne, June 24, 2024

    Re Andrew Wilkie’s comments: Doesn’t he know that the people who buy these sheep don’t have power or refrigeration? They may buy 10-12 sheep and herd them up into the hills and kill one a week for the family. We don’t eat old wethers in Australia anymore.

  3. Carolyn Le-Grand, June 24, 2024

    I feel this has been rushed, is political and a knee-jerk reaction to appease the Greens who have tunnel vision and little understanding in relation to economic issues. The repercussions of this will be felt strongly. Watch this space. Unfortunately, the Labor Party has a long history of ideology at the expense of commonsense.

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