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PM’s visit to WA leaves live sheep export farmers with more uncertainty

The Prime Minister’s visit to Western Australia has left farmers with even more uncertainty, after Anthony Albanese continued to shun a meeting request while offering farmers access to Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.

The Prime Minister was previously invited to meet with farmers during his Perth visit but rejected the request.

Leader of The Nationals, David Littleproud, said Labor was treating farmers with contempt and that offering a meeting with Minister Watt was a tokenistic and insincere ‘tick of the box’ exercise.

“The Prime Minister visited Western Australia this week but all he did was leave a trail of confusion and uncertainty,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“This uncertainty is hurting farmers and the industry.

“If Labor is so confident in the decision to phase out the industry, why doesn’t the Prime Minister have the courage to look farmers in the eye and tell them?

“Labor is destroying the livelihoods of more than 3,000 people who work in the trade and an industry worth $85 million, but doesn’t seem to care about being transparent.

“The Prime Minister and his Cabinet continue to hide an Independent Panel Report into the phasing out of live sheep in Cabinet, despite previously committing to providing more certainty by the end of 2023.”

Even more puzzling, Minister Watt told the ABC while in Perth this week that the report is still in Cabinet because it needs to be weighed up against other priorities.

“Farmers deserve to know what the ‘other priorities’ are and why their livelihoods are low on the pecking order,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“Saying the report isn’t a high priority just creates more confusion.”

WA Livestock chairman Geoff Pearson said the meeting between some farmers and Minister Watt had unfortunately been a “waste of time”.

“It is frustrating because we wrote to the Prime Minister and said we need to talk about Labor’s commitment to end the live sheep export trade,” Mr. Pearson said.

“Information is still being withheld and even to this day the Minister can’t give timelines.”

Mr. Littleproud added farmers deserved better than how Labor was treating them.

“It is becoming more and more obvious that Labor doesn’t want to release its so-called scientific and economic evidence because it simply doesn’t exist and Labor instead hides behind Cabinet-in-Confidence,” Mr. Littleproud said.

“While I am pleased WA Premier Roger Cook is finally standing up for WA farmers and backing the trade, unfortunately, it has been a wasted opportunity for the Premier to host the Prime Minister and yet not stand up to his Federal counterparts and fight to save live sheep exports.”

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