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Australian wool industry unites to fight Albanese Government’s looming live export phase-out

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
WoolProducers chief executive Jo Hall.
Camera IconWoolProducers chief executive Jo Hall. Credit: Supplied/supplied

The nation’s peak wool industry body has vowed to continue fighting for West Australians whose “livelihoods and mental health are being destroyed” by Labor’s “ridiculous” plan to phase out live sheep exports by 2028.

WoolProducers Australia chief executive Jo Hall said the policy showed a “complete disregard” for the wool and sheep industries and a “lack of understanding” of the situation facing the State.

“What we have seen is a Government so removed from agriculture and the people who work in and rely on this industry,” she said.

“Instead, the Government chooses to add to the burden of the current situation. Enough is enough.”

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Ms Hall said there was no way to implement the policy without “causing devastation to regional communities”.

She accused Labor of blindly sticking to a “minor” election commitment cooked up to “serve a preference deal” with the Animal Justice Party, and of failing in its election promise to “leave no Australian behind”.

“The timing of this announcement cements the Commonwealth’s utter lack of understanding of our industry,” Ms Hall said.

“Producers are seeding, carting water, supplementary feeding, and many currently lambing, how much more stress are they expected to bear?”

Her comments come after the Albanese Government at the weekend finally unveiled its roadmap for shutting down the predominantly WA trade, after taking the policy to the last election.

The Western Australian Shearing Industry Association condemned the announcement, saying the $107 million in transition funding on the table was inadequate.

WASIA president Darren Spencer said industry had repeatedly warned Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt of the dire consequences at stake, and the “lack of science and facts” behind Labor’s “unnecessary” policy.

WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer.
Camera IconWA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

“This is a sad day for our industry, for producers and for our communities; we are all entitled to feel very let down and abandoned by this Government,” Mr Spencer said.

“WASIA stands with everyone in our industry to continue the fight and to the ALP, we say, ‘this will not be forgotten at election time’.”

Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner said it was an issue of precedent and trust, not just for sheep producers, but for the entire Australian agriculture industry.

“If the industry and regional communities are to have faith that there will be ‘no one held back, no one left behind’ under the current Government, public policy processes must be evidence-based, strategic, inclusive, and collaborative,” Ms Skinner said.

“This announcement further erodes what little trust existed between producers and the Federal Government and this will leave them and their rural communities behind.”

Ms Skinner said the impact would be “immense” and further clarification was needed on the Government’s next steps.

“We have kept the Government regularly informed of the challenges WA producers are facing for the past 12 months,” she said.

“Where is the respect for human welfare — for people’s lives and livelihoods?”

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