WA Government and pastoralists reiterate support for sheep trade

Sheep Central, February 22, 2023

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and WA Minister for Agriculture and Food Jackie Jarvis tour the CBH Group Kwinana Grain Terminal this week. Image – Facebook.

WESTERN Australia’s Labor Government and pastoralists have reiterated their support for live sheep exports despite federal Minister Agriculture Minister Murray Watt’s assertion the trade had lost its social licence.

Although WA Labor Government leaders have stopped short of outlining whether or how they intend to fight the Federal Government’s planned phase-out of the trade.

In a Senate Estimates hearing last week, Mr Watt said live sheep exporters had “lost their social licence because of a range of incidents” and community opinion is that the trade should be phased out.

The statements prompted the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australian to label the Australian Labor Party’s election commitment to phase out the live sheep export trade as reckless and irresponsible, claiming Mr Watt’s comments show how ill-informed the Federal Government is about the importance of the live export trade to WA’s regional economy.

“It is clear that Minister Watt and the ALP party have little, if no understanding of the value of the live export industry to regional Western Australia,” PGA president Tony Seabrook said yesterday.

“Western Australia is the largest exporter of sheep in Australia, with live sheep exports worth over $136 million – making the trade a vital and important part of the WA regional economy.

“Any suggestion that the trade is on its last legs is misleading, as the only decline that the trade has suffered over the past three years comes not from a lack of demand from our overseas customers, but from high livestock prices, limited supply, and reduced shipping timeframes due to the current moratorium on exports during the northern hemisphere summer months,” Mr Seabrook said.

“And since 2018 the industry and its regulatory framework has undergone significant change, with no reportable incidents (voyage mortalities exceeding one per cent) occurring.

“In Western Australia, the live export industry is a major buyer of our livestock, supports regional businesses, and provides much needed regional jobs, which in turn strengthens our regional communities,” he said.

“Any commitment by the ALP to phase out live sheep exports will only serve to destroy regional jobs, regional communities, regional businesses, and hard-working Western Australian regional families.”

WA Labor will ‘advocate’, but will it oppose and fight?

Mr Seabrook said WA sheep producers appreciated the continued support from Mr McGowan and Ms Jarvis for the “one hundred per cent legal, humane, and viable trade.”

“Perhaps Mr Watt, and Mr Albanese should be paying more attention to their WA Labor counterparts,” he said.

Sheep Central asked WA Premier Mark McGowan and Agriculture and Food Minister Jackie Jarvis if they believed the trade did not have a social licence to continue, if they were prepared to fight the Federal Government’s proposed phase-out, whether the WA sheep industry and trade should start planning for the trade’s end and what the WA Government planned to do to help the sector adjust.

Ms Jarvis said she and the Premier have been consistent and clear with their Federal colleagues that the current measures, including the northern Summer live export ban, are sufficient.

“The Premier has repeatedly said these measures – which also include additional vet checks and monitoring – have worked well, and are effective and appropriate.

“The Prime Minister has announced there will be no changes during this term of government and I will continue to advocate for industry in WA,” she said.



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