Pastoralists slam Labor vow to end live exports

Glenn CordingleyCountryman
VideoReview into live exporting recommends sheep numbers be reduced

Regional pastoralists have ripped into Labor’s pledge to end live sheep exports, saying it unfairly targets an entire industry and focuses on banning the trade rather than prosecuting the perpetrators of acts of animal cruelty.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the policy was a repeat of the Gillard government’s 2011 suspension of live exports, which caused diplomatic tensions with Indonesia and economic damage to farmers.

Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman David Stoate said as with the 2011 live cattle export ban to Indonesia, Federal Labor had again chosen to act while not being in possession of the full facts.

“While I, too, was personally horrified by the footage, I do applaud the swift and decisive action taken by (Federal Agriculture) Minister (David) Littleproud to initiate a number of investigations to ensure improvements, as well as the improvements put in place by the Australian Live Exporters Council and Emmanuel Exports, such as reducing stocking densities,” he said.

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“Where there is any evidence of a breach of the Australian standards for the export of livestock, this must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators penalised.

“It is also important for stakeholders to understand that should the Australian live export trade in sheep be banned it will be taken up by countries that have much lower standards than Australia, if any at all, and will result in a net reduction in overall animal welfare outcomes.”

Mr Stoate said the beef industry in the Kimberley-Pilbara was still bearing the scars of the Federal Labor’s knee-jerk decision in 2011 to ban the live export trade in cattle to Indonesia.

He said legal action taken by a Northern Territory cattle company seeking compensation for detriment suffered by producers was still pending as part of a claim that also accuses then Federal Labor agriculture minister Joe Ludwig of misusing his power in initiating the ban.

Mr Stoate said the live export trade in cattle from North West WA was worth at least $150 million in 2017 and was an important socio-economic contributor to the region, including a significant number of Aboriginal pastoral lessees.

The entire WA live export trade of cattle in 2017 was worth $273 million.

Mr Stoate said the need for the current review into the Australian standards livestock exports needed to be as robust as possible, with input sought from all stakeholders, and should look at the implementation of options to improve monitoring and increase transparency in reporting in relation to the welfare of animals.

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