WA’s live sheep shipping relief

Zach RelphCountryman
Corrigin sheep farmer Steven Bolt and his 11-year-old son Flynn.
Camera IconCorrigin sheep farmer Steven Bolt and his 11-year-old son Flynn. Credit: Nic Ellis

WA sheep producers will not be lulled into a false sense of security after the Morrison Government’s shock return to power, with Corrigin farmer Steven Bolt saying transparency remains critical.

Following Labor’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Coalition on Saturday, the sheep industry avoided the possibility of a Bill Shorten-led Government ending the live sheep trade.

Mr Bolt was among sheep farmers breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of the weekend’s Federal election result after Labor’s proposal to phase-out live sheep shipping was left dead in the water.

However, The Sheep Collective member and Merino breeder told Countryman the industry understood it was still in the firing line of anti-live export campaigners.

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Mr Bolt said the sector would continue to place a high importance on outlining the live export supply chain’s commitment to animal welfare.

“The election result is a relief for the whole sheep industry,” he said.

“We were going to be under serious pressure, if Labor won, to try and reduce damage.

“There are still challenges ahead and we want to continue to educate the general public about the industry’s importance to regional Australia.”

The Sheep Collective was founded in February in response to mounting uncertainty surrounding the live export trade’s future after last year’s Awassi Express scandal.

It is a collaboration between farmers, truck drivers, vets and industry representatives to promote the live export process.

Rural and Livestock Transport Association WA president and Sheep Collective member Andy Jacob welcomed the Coalition’s re-election, but noted the agriculture sector still faced an uphill battle.

“I am thrilled with the result — Labor was clear about its live export policy and it would have caused a lot of pain,” he said.

“Although it’s good news, there will still be no short-term benefit for owner-operators with the trade to be banned for three months.”

According to RLTA, a live sheep would be carried about 31/2 times by the time it reached Fremantle Port, while a sheep travelling to a WA abattoir would be carried about 11/2 times.

Mr Jacob said owner-operators were bracing for a lull in work leading into the northern summer trading halt, adding industry collaboration was key to ensuring live exports remained viable.

The three-month northern hemisphere ban on live sheep shipping is set to comes into effect next Saturday and concludes on August 31.

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