Federal Labor’s sheep view irks Crean

Zach RelphCountryman
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chairman Simon Crean at the WAFarmers’ conference.
Camera IconAustralian Livestock Exporters’ Council chairman Simon Crean at the WAFarmers’ conference. Credit: Calum Maxwell / WAFarmers

Former Labor powerbroker Simon Crean has deemed his old party’s threat to change the nation’s tattered live-sheep trade to domestic processing a “simplistic argument”, while also savaging proposed shipping reforms.

In a passionate address at WAFarmers’ two-day Trending Ag forum in Perth last Thursday, the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chairman warned establishing a solely domestic processed sheepmeat market would jeopardise the sheep sector.

Mr Crean, primary industries minister in the 1990s and Federal Labor opposition leader from 2001 to 2003, said a Bill Shorten-led government’s promise to phase out the live-sheep industry within five years, if elected, was unviable.

Instead, the industry must be unified and establish practical animal welfare-focused shipping standards for Middle East-bound live-sheep voyages.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“The solution that says get rid of Australia from the trade does not make sense to me, because demand exists for the live trade,” he said.

“The simplistic argument that says substitute the trade with boxed beef doesn’t wash.

“We know that there is a possibility of a change of government that will see a party come into power, my party, that is going to phase out the trade, but that is not the reason to give up.

“If there are solutions to this, we should be advocating for them.”

Uncertainty has surrounded the live-sheep industry since horrific vision of dead and heat-stressed sheep aboard Emanuel Exports’ Awassi Express was aired by 60 Minutes last April.

However, doubt was cast over the footage in January when The West Australian revealed Animals Australia had offered ship workers payments for vision showing “dead or dying animals”. Mr Crean confirmed he had written to Animals Australia and 60 Minutes, questioning the allegations, and was awaiting responses.

The Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources released an independent heat-stress risk assessment draft report, recommending changes to shipping standards for Middle East-bound vessels.

Among the raft of proposals includes enforcing a 28C wet bulb temperature limit, which Mr Crean said was “not a reliable indicator”.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails