WAFarmers visit to Capital Hill to keep live sheep trade on agenda

WAFarmers President Tony York spent two days in Canberra during the last sitting of Federal Parliament to meet with a range of Government, Opposition and Crossbench MP’s to discuss and raise the importance of the live sheep trade to WA producers and its contribution beyond the farm gate.

Mr York said that the recent changes within the Federal Cabinet along with the new leadership of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, it was important for WAFarmers to demonstrate our support for the continuance of the live sheep trade given its importance to WA.

“Along with NFF President Fiona Simson and Sheep Producers Australia CEO Graham Smith, I met with several Government members and was assured that the Coalition Government was committed to the future of the live sheep trade,” Mr York said.

“With Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson now appointed as Assistant Ministers, it is unlikely that the Private Member’s Bill aimed at closing the live sheep trade will be debated in the House of Representatives.

“A vote in the House of Representatives over Senator Hinch’s Crossbench Bill to ban live export saw it defeated on party lines (72-70) and confirmed the Government’s numbers on this issue at present.“

“However, meetings with the Labor Shadow Agricultural Minister Joel Fitzgibbon confirmed the Labor Party’s wants to phase out the live sheep trade over the next five years, although this adjustment period is not yet set.

“The issue remains extremely fragile politically, and the trade could be under threat should Labor form government at the next election.

“The Labor Party is likely to use the issue as a key election policy over the course of the upcoming election campaign; we can expect activist groups to assist with highlighting Labor’s promise to ban the trade.

“Each of the political representatives we met with, on all sides of Government, stressed to us how fragile the issue is and any repeat of a similar incident to the one we saw on board the Awassi Express in August 2017 will make it impossible for them to support the ongoing continuance of the live sheep trade.

“I met with One Nation Senators Pauline Hanson and Peter Georgiou, as well as Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm who all affirmed their support for the trade.

“The crossbench and minor party MPs will be critical to the survival of the live sheep trade if they are re-elected and hold the balance of power, particularly in the Senate should Labor have control in the House of Representatives.

“While in parliament, I was able to sit in the gallery and witness Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP table the WAFarmers petition calling on the Government to undertake further action to investigate the social and economic impacts that a live export ban would have on Australia.”

Mr York said the petition in conjunction with meeting Nola Marino, Tony Pasin, Lisa Chesters, Dr Anne Aly, Barnaby Joyce, Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator Louise Pratt, Richard Colbeck and Minister Littleproud’s staff are all part of a strategy of continually keeping pressure on MPs and keeping this critical issue on the political agenda.

“I was fortunate enough to have also met with Environment Minister and Member for Durack Melissa Price and Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann. This provided an opportunity to thank them both for their support and funding for Moora Residential College. Further, I was able to affirm WAFarmers support for the proposed changes to the GST model that will see WA receive a 75 cent floor.

“There is no doubt that Canberra is a long way from Western Australia, however many of the decisions that impact the livelihoods of farmers and those within regional communities are decided by the MPs on Capital Hill.

“It is critical that representatives of the WA agricultural industry continue to travel and meet with these decision makers to ensure that our farmer’s business remain viable and successful for generations to come.”

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