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Live sheep first cattle next farmers warn at Labors box ticking inquiry

Farmers have warned live cattle will be the next target of animal activists as soon as Labor’s phase-out of live sheep occurs, during today’s House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiry into the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024.

National Farmers’ Federation’s Charles Thomas told the inquiry farmers have been treated with contempt, dismissed, and marginalized by Labor, with the inquiry marking a new “grim state of affairs” for lawmaking.

Mr. Thomas said despite Australia’s uplift in animal welfare standards, Labor’s decision to end live sheep exports would put an end to strong trade development overseas.

“This Bill also sets a chilling precedent – it tells us as an industry that where industries face issues, invest heavily in reform and go on to meet best practice standards, they can be shut down if a misleading activist campaign can get 40,000 signatures on a petition using imagery from 10 years ago,” Mr. Thomas said.

“We worry because we know the stated goal of these same organizations is an end to animal agriculture in Australia. We know that the moment that this is done, these organizations will shift their resources, their focus and their questionable tactics to other parts of our industry.”

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said Labor’s “box ticking” inquiry didn’t allow appropriate time for questioning or investigation into the phase-out of the trade and Australia’s animal welfare standards are the best in the world.

“Australian exporters can measure the pants of a sheep per minute and the length of their wool to the millimeter on a boat, so Animals Australia and the RSPCA are morally bankrupt, because they are valuing the life of a sheep in Australia over that from another country,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“The market overseas will continue, this is a food security and cultural issue.”

Troy Setter from LiveCorp told the inquiry the live sheep trade with Saudi Arabia has just reopened and the market imports around eight million live sheep a year, where demand is strong for more Australian sheep. In fact, Australia has already sent 50,000 live sheep to Saudi Arabia.

“The number of sheep exported in 2023 increased 30 percent compared to 2022,” Mr. Setter said.

“Saudi Arabia is really a solid case study. When Australia stopped supplying live sheep to Saudi Arabia 10 years ago, they did not increase chilled, frozen imports. They sourced live sheep from other countries with no animal welfare standards.”

David Galvin from the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council said the inquiry was a “complete waste of time” and “controlled tightly” by Labor.

“The only people outside the Albanese Government who think this policy is a good idea are animal activists,” Mr. Galvin said.

“Is this who you take your advice and write instructions from?”

Mr. Littleproud pointed out live sheep exports from Australia had increased despite the Albanese Labor indicating it was a declining industry. Although it’s a growing market, Labor plans to phase out the industry by May 1, 2028.

“This committee will inevitably be rushed and once again cause more anxiety among farmers,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is avoiding a Senate inquiry and is still unable to explain the science behind closing the industry and destroying the livelihoods of 3000 farmers. Today’s Canberra inquiry and Perth’s inquiry on Friday is tokenistic and once again treating our farmers with contempt. A future Coalition Government will bring back the live sheep export trade.”

 

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