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Animal welfare must be top priority

The Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies has backed Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s crackdown on exporters that flout animal welfare rules and regulations.

Ms Davies said she was abhorred by vision obtained by Animals Australia which showed the mistreatment of livestock aboard a vessel which left Fremantle last year. 

“The live export of animals is a crucial component of Western Australia’s rural economy and our producers must have the peace of mind that their animals are being treated correctly once they leave the farm gate,” she said.

“Animal welfare is an issue The Nationals and the communities we represent take very seriously and we want to ensure all levels of the supply chain are treating animals according to community, industry and consumer expectations.”

Ms Davies said Mr Littleproud’s push for harsher penalties for unethical operators, the establishment of a whistle-blower hotline and going after the heads of export companies doing the wrong thing was a welcome move.

“However, State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s suggestion that shipping be halted for three months showed the Labor Party had learnt nothing from the 2011 live export ban,” Ms Davies said.

“Labor’s default mode to ban live exports shows they have learnt nothing from their mistakes of the past.

“It’s exactly what we saw in 2011 when Federal Labor banned live cattle exports, a decision that devastated farmers and regional economies.

“The treatment of the livestock aboard the Awassi Express has been rightly condemned by all parties and those responsible must be held to account. But the answer does not lie in the McGowan Government crippling an industry worth more than $500 million to WA’s economy per year and one that supports 4500 sheep farms and farmers across the State.”

The Nationals WA agriculture spokesman Colin de Grussa said a ban would spell disaster for industry and market demand.

“The live export sector has initiated animal welfare changes over the last decade that markedly improved the journeys of live animals shipped from our shores,” he said

“The answer to this challenge is to ensure the regulatory system and regulator are equipped to do their job effectively.

“The industry must continue to work to demonstrate it takes the issue of animal welfare seriously.

“The footage from aboard the Awassi Express cannot be condoned by anyone and there must be serious consequences for those operators that choose to flout regulations.”

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