Comments from Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson MP about how a ban on live export would not affect Western Australian producers have been condemned by WAFarmers.
Following the announcement of the Federal Opposition’s intentions to impose a phase out of live sheep exports, Mr Wilson said that a ban would not strongly affect Western Australian producers.
WAFarmers President Tony York said Mr Wilson had based much of his economic analysis on national figures that were not reflective on the WA sheep industry.
“Mr Wilson said WA’s contribution to the live sheep trade was insignificant, however our data and practical experience of the industry leads us to believe that this is grossly incorrect, as approximately one third of WA sheep turnoff is for the live trade,” Mr York said.
“Further, Mr Wilson said the live trade was an industry in decline, however I refute that comment.
“It is disingenuous to believe that the declining live export numbers are not directly connected to the decline of the total sheep numbers in WA; the two are inter-related and always have been.
“The live export trade takes a type of animal that is not as highly valued by the local market. Adding to that, some farmers have specifically tailored their sheep enterprise for the export trade, and will not be able to easily transition to the processing market.”
Mr York said $80 million to $150 million of directly related income would be removed from the regional WA economy if the trade was to end.
“Labor is playing politics with the agricultural sector once again – instead of focusing on the facts of live export and how important it is to the industry, they are making it into a political issue,” he said.
“Of course, the recent 60 Minutes footage shocked the nation and has resulted in significant anger on behalf of the animals involved.
“We share and fully understand this reaction, as the most important part of this issue is the welfare of the animals involved in live export. However, it is also important to consider the economic value of the trade to not only the agricultural industry, but also to the communities being propped up by exports.
“A ban would not just affect the livestock producers supplying animals for live export; it would affect their families and their ability to provide for their loved ones, spending in their local town on feed, fencing and other materials necessary to the proper management of a farming enterprise, and would very much increase the likelihood of those affected having to leave the regions.
“Given WA producers represent 85 per cent of the national trade, this exodus of farming families would decimate the sustainability of regional communities, many of which are already under threat through lack of resourcing.
“Clearly, Mr Wilson is out of touch with Western Australians – his comments show a complete disrespect for WA producers, who work so hard to provide food for him, his family, and his Labor colleagues.
“As Member for Fremantle, a port city through which live exports are conducted, we would encourage Mr Wilson to get outside his constituency and gain a broader understanding of the issue and how it would affect WA producers from those directly involved in the trade.”
Findings from the Federal Government’s into the live sheep export industry during northern hemisphere summer conditions are due next week.
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].