Live Export

Sheep producers and exporters condemn live export ban vote

Sheep Central July 3, 2024

Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner holding the PM to his word.

AUSTRALIA’S peak sheep meat body and livestock exporters have condemned the Federal Government’s hurried passing of laws to ban live sheep exports by seas from 1 May 2028.

Sheep Producers Australia said the Federal Labor Government’s “reckless and rushed trade ban” has chosen politics over people.

In passing the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024 in the Senate on Monday night, the Labor Government has shown it continues to choose back-room preference deals and appeasing animal activists over the proper process and supporting rural communities, SPA said.

Sheep Producers Australia director Bindi Murray and chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner joined the Western Australian sheep delegation in Canberra this week, meeting with parliamentarians to explain why the trade is integral to WA’s farming systems, animal welfare, and Australia’s trade relationships.

Ms Murray said the delegation met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday to raise concerns about the process and Labor’s reckless rush to get through parliament.

“We strongly advised both the allocated funds and timeframes fell far short to deliver a transition that leaves ‘No one worse off, no one left behind’ for the impacted families and businesses.”

“The Prime Minister personally assured us ‘cattle are off the table’ and that he won’t let ‘rural communities be left behind’,” she said.

“The poor process should have been enough to require a Senate inquiry and any politician with an ounce of integrity should have backed one.

“We thank the Senators who voted with logic and integrity and did back an inquiry.”

Ms Murray said the fact that Keep The Sheep petition could gather 60,000 signatures in just over six weeks shows there are a whole lot of people who don’t share Mr Albanese’s confidence about the cattle trade’s future.

Ms Skinner said Mr Albanese needs to stand by his word and make sure this decision doesn’t decimate the sheep industry and WA communities.

“He needs to ensure ongoing and meaningful consultation as he indicated yesterday his government would work with regional communities and industry to ensure good social and economic outcomes.

“We look forward to hearing from the Prime Minister about a solid plan on how to deliver on his word and address issues like competition and critical mass,” she said.

Ms Murray said Sheep Producers Australia was waiting to learn more about the government’s plans to process more sheep meat in Australia “to fill the gaping hole live export will leave”.

“The Labor Party continues to peddle misinformation that live export has smaller throughput than the abattoirs as a reason for the ban.

“This should send a chill through rural communities, supply chains, and groups. Our meat processors are at capacity, it’s alarming to think the government is so far out of touch with farming it thinks this is an easy solution.”

Ms Skinner said the rush to legislate showed the industry had rattled the government.

“We have been fighting for the best outcomes for sheep producers on this issue for many years.

“This fight will continue.”

A black day for Australian agriculture – ALEC

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council said 1 July 2024 will forever be marked as a black day for Australian agriculture.

“However, ALEC CEO Mark Harvey said it also marked the last day that governments could wilfully ignore facts and evidence and choose activism.

“The debate in the Senate last night was extremely hard to watch given the blatant lies put forward by the Government and the Greens about the live sheep trade.

“There were repeated falsehoods put forward about the animal welfare conditions on vessels, the economic value of the trade,” he said.

“Some Senators openly mocked the agriculture sector’s campaign against this policy – all cut and pasted from activist talking points.

“At no stage in the debate could they reference an industry body supportive of the bill which is truly telling,” he said.

“The most galling part of all, was the patronising insistence from government senators that this policy presented an “opportunity” for WA sheep farmers and our trading partners.

“This has been repeatedly refuted by industry and it demonstrated a wilful ignorance by the Government towards the facts and the devastating impacts of this bill,” Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

“This government showed they simply do not care about Western Australian agriculture.

“However, we hope governments of all persuasions mark 1 July 2024 as the last day they will make such a mistake again,” he said.

“We have consistently said this policy, if implemented, would be crossing a red line.

“With the rushed and arrogant manner in which this bill has been passed, the government has now crossed that line and the agriculture sector is left with little choice, but to fight in a manner that has not been seen before! The sector is mobilised, united and furious.”


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  1. Katrina Love, July 4, 2024

    “Ms Murray said the fact that Keep The Sheep petition could gather 60,000 signatures in just over six weeks shows there are a whole lot of people who don’t share Mr Albanese’s confidence about the cattle trade’s future.”

    By that rationale, the 2011 petition to ban live cattle exports that saw 200,000 people sign in just three days should have held far more weight.

    I note that the fact is always omitted, that RSPCA’s parliamentary petition gathered 43,758 signatures in four weeks, whereas the Save Live Export parliamentary petition gathered just 1,307 signatures in the same timeframe. This is more representative of the community’s feelings about live sheep exports.

    “Keep The Sheep” (here, in Australia, off the ships, safe… as in” keep them – do not send them”) is an ambiguous catch-cry. I’d suggest they try a “Keep Live Exports” or “Keep Exporting Live Sheep to the Middle East for Fully Conscious Slaughter” petition and see how many signatures they get.

  2. Darren Spencer, July 3, 2024

    While the Labor Party continues to believe Roger Fletcher when he says he can process 500 thousand sheep in a week we are in serious trouble.
    Western Australian sheep producers have been struggling to get rid of that many and more sheep over the past two years and where has Roger Fletcher been? These sheep have been at giveaway prices and he still hasn’t been able to process them. No disrespect to Roger Fletcher but the narrative suits the government’s argument. Other processors agree that live export and local processing go hand in hand and complement each other. I guess it’s going to be growers’ fault when the processors can’t find enough sheep to keep their works operating?
    This government is more than happy to put the fox in charge of the hen House to the detriment of Western Australian growers and communities. I say Keep the Sheep.

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