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National Farmers' Federation and industry leaders protest live sheep export ban during Agriculture Minister Murray Watt speech

Industry leaders, including the National Farmers' Federation, walked out of Agriculture Minister Murray Watt's speech protesting Labor's decision to ban live sheep exports. David Littleproud criticised Labor's lack of industry understanding.

By news@gippsland - 15th May 2024 - Back to News

The National Farmers' Federation and other industry representatives have staged an unprecedented walk-out during Agriculture Minister Murray Watt's post-Budget speech today. New South Wales Farmers President Xavier Martin told Minister Watt his decision to ban live sheep was "absolutely shameful" in a public spray as he exited CropLife Australia's Budget Breakfast.

Farmers turned their backs on the Minister as he turned his own farmers. Cancelling a vital industry sets a dangerous precedent, farmers will resist, agricultural policy should prioritise evidence, science, and farmer input

Farmers' despair ignored

Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said the chaotic scenes were embarrassing and Labor's own making, after Minister Watt had left the industry with no confidence in the Budget and committed to phasing out the live sheep export industry, destroying 3000 livelihoods in the process.
Mr Littleproud said he was dismayed that instead of listening, Minister Watt joked about the topic, telling the audience, "just as well I didn't talk about it earlier in the speech".

"Australia's farmers are in despair and desperate for help but they are getting treated with contempt by an out-of-touch Labor government and an Agriculture Minister who couldn't give a rats about the industry. The walk-out this morning by our nation's farmers - those who clothe and feed us - was an act of frustration and a reaction to a government who won't listen and doesn't understand how agriculture works," Mr Littleproud said.

Sheep export betrayal

Minister Watt announced Labor would phase out the live sheep export industry by May 1, 2028, just days prior to the Budget. "Minister Watt didn't even have the courage to fly to Western Australia and face farmers, instead announcing from a high-rise in Perth, it's just a big 'up yours' to Western Australian farmers."

"Industry has never had the science to explain to them why they are closing the industry down. Compensation of just $64.6 million is an insult, especially when Meat and Livestock Australia figures show live sheep exports were 84,430 in December 2023, which was a 177 per cent increase in comparison with November export (58,732) and a 44 per cent increase on December 2022 exports (30,531)."

"The legislation will be introduced in this term of Parliament, even though the industry embraced world leading animal welfare reforms in 2019, not only in transport but also the processing of sheep in the Middle East," he said.

Perverse animal welfare

Mr Littleproud said this decision will see the needless death of thousands of sheep from around the world, as countries that take up this market from Australia do not meet our world leading animal welfare standards, which makes this decision perverse.

A 230-page independent panel report into the phase out was also released, after Labor hid it behind Cabinet-in-Confidence for more than six months and just days after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister Watt visited Beef2024 in Rockhampton, Queensland.

"Farmers don't want compensation, they just want to continue to lead the world in animal welfare and work with an Agricultural Minister who will actually work with the industry, not against it. A future Coalition government will reinstate the live sheep export trade," Mr Littleproud said.

Pictures from National Farmers' Federation Facebook page.


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