The Nationals WA have called on Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to explain why the State Government advocated for extending a ban on live sheep exports.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development recently wrote to its Federal equivalent urging it to extend the ban on live sheep exports for another month on top of the existing three-month moratorium to coincide with the northern hemisphere summer.
On 31 July 2019 the Federal Department of Agriculture confirmed the ban would be extended.
Leader Mia Davies said the Minister needed to explain to industry why she continued to work against it, and had now drawn DPIRD into the fray.
“DPIRD’s call for live exports to be banned beyond 1 September goes against the wishes of Western Australia’s sheep producers and livestock exporters,” she said.
Ms Davies said feedback from producers was that the constant uncertainty surrounding the resumption of live trade had left the industry bereft of confidence.
“The feedback to us is that producers have a schedule they are working towards and that schedule relied on the live trade resuming on 1 September,” she said.
“Those producers will be horrified to learn the Minister who supposedly represents their interests got DPIRD to actively campaign for that uncertainty to continue.
“The McGowan Government’s utter disregard for our State’s sheep producers and the livelihoods of all those connected with the industry is appalling.”
The Nationals WA agriculture spokesperson Colin de Grussa said the mortality rate for live sheep exports was at all-time lows as industry moved swiftly to implement new welfare initiatives.
“The average mortality rate for sheep travelling by live export now sits around 0.4 per cent, which is the lowest it has ever been. Farmers would be very happy if this was an on-farm mortality rate,” he said.
“This has been achieved by increasing pen-space, independent auditing of ventilation on vessels, installing automatic watering systems, use of automated environmental data loggers and increasing transparency in the industry through the use of increased reporting measures, independent observers and on-board vets.
The Federal Government has also committed increased funding into research and development to improve animal welfare outcomes, such as the $2.2 million for dehumidification on live export ships.
“We know live export underpins our successful $550 million sheep sector, which supports 5,000 businesses in WA,” Ms Davies said.
“Rather than working with industry, Minister MacTiernan continues to undermine it.”