Live trade advocates confident of politics

Zach RelphCountryman
Woodanilling sheep producer Bindi Murray has been in Canberra this week.
Camera IconWoodanilling sheep producer Bindi Murray has been in Canberra this week. Credit: Cally Dupe / Countryman

Three confident pro-live sheep representatives have emerged from meetings with Federal Labor and Liberal politicians sporting a renewed hope for the industry’s survival.

Wongan Hills farmer Sue Middleton travelled to Canberra this week, alongside Mt Barker’s Lyn Slade and Woodanilling sheep producer Bindi Murray, to voice the trade’s critical importance to WA.

Ms Middleton met Labor shadow agricultural minister Joel Fitzgibbon and MP Lisa Chesters on Tuesday and highlighted the rippling repercussions rural WA would endure if the live export trade ended.

Federal Labor has warned sheep producers it intended to phase-out the live sheep trade within five years, if triumphant at May’s Federal election.

Ms Middleton said she was confident a Bill Shorten-led government would understand the importance of a viable live sheep sector, if elected, and its benefits for WA’s farming community.

“Their policy position has been about the phase-out, but we talked about the possibility of a transition plan,” she said.

“It would enable us to transition to a diverse industry that would include live trade.

“There is an openness from them to consider what that might look like, given there is an improvement in how live export has operated in the last year.

“I really feel positive and confident about the industry.”

The trio also met Liberal-National MPs.

The trip comes less than three weeks before the Federal Government’s extended industry consultation period on its heat-stress risk assessment draft report for live sheep shipping ends on March 1.

The welfare-focused draft model proposes implementing a 28C wet bulb temperature limit for Middle East-bound live sheep voyages, which has been deemed too harsh by industry figureheads.

“It is too simplistic. It needs to take into account the duration of high temperature and also the night-time temperature,” Ms Middleton said.

She said suggestions would be made in the heat-stress risk assessment industry submissions.

Ms Middleton was scheduled to meet Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud yesterday.

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