MacTiernan told to stick up for farmers

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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VideoBarnaby Joyce received cheers and applause at a farming meeting in Katanning.

A 1000-strong crowd of rural and regional people pleaded for their future last week.

Perplexed as to why the Federal Government had drawn the battlelines, those affected by the delicate high-seas trade were after answers as they gathered from all parts of the State.

Emotions ran high as farmers implored State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to be more accepting of the trade.

Her attempts “to be truthful” to the crowd fell on death ears and her proposed “plan B” for the industry was booed and heckled.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce rallied crowd support, saying the $265 million annual live sheep export industry was under threat from the “stepping up” of other overseas exporters.

Barnaby Joyce rallies the crowd with his support of the live export trade.
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce rallies the crowd with his support of the live export trade. Credit: Bob Garnant

“The lost of this revenue doesn’t just affect farmers but goes back to the community,” he said.

Acting on behalf of absent Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, O’Connor MP Rick Wilson offered the crowd a peace treaty with the industry’s acceptance of a no-repeat policy from the Awassi Express affair.

Under new guidelines formulated from the McCarthy Report, Mr Wilson said every export boat would require an independent observer and also be under new restrictions during the June to September period.

Hitting back, Livestock Shipping Services’ livestock manager Harold Sealy said the adoption of the resulting McCarthy Report had currently crippled the WA export sheep trade.

“There are parts of this review that are sound and with a scientific basis but there are parts that are not,” he said.

“We need Mr Littleproud to realise the process under-taken has flaws.”

Mr Sealy said the review was one person’s opinion, adopted without consultation and put into practice without rigour or question. He said the proposed regulatory changes were focused on “busting up bad practice” and “nailing those who do the wrong thing”, not recognising good practice or improvements.

LSS’ Harold Sealy.
Camera IconLSS’ Harold Sealy. Credit: Bob Garnant

“The Australian Government is being dictated to by organisations opposed to not only the livestock export trade but the country’s entire animal production,” he said.

“The industry cannot be governed by populist views of a minority.”

Mr Joyce said animal rights activists would pursue the end of live cattle trade if a total ban on live sheep exports was achieved. A total ban warning became clear when Ms MacTiernan said it was the intention of the Federal Government to phase out the live sheep export industry over six to seven years.

“We must build resilience into the sheep industry, whether there is a live export industry or not,” she said.

WAFarmers president Tony York said the rally was a success, with the strength of the crowd representing farmers and regional people.

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