Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is signalling his support for the continuation of live sheep exports as he spruiks his policy at one of the biggest WA get-togethers of the agricultural industry.
Mr Dutton will meet with leaders from WAFarmers and Stud Merino Breeders Association of WA, as well as sheep industry stakeholders, farmers, producers, shearers, and truck drivers at Wagin Woolorama on Friday.
The two-day event is the State’s largest sheep show, which attracts more than 20,000 people.
The Opposition leader has pledged to stand up for the live sheep exports industry as the Albanese Government moves ahead with shutting it down.
“Wagin and the Wheatbelt are at ground zero of Labor’s absurd decision to phase out this industry and I’m looking forward to showing my support for sheep producers on the ground in regional WA,” Mr Dutton told The West Australian.
“Under my leadership, the Coalition will stand up for critical industries. We’ve got the sheep export industry’s back — and we’ll ensure that upholding the highest standards of animal health and welfare occurs, whilst supporting a sustainable live export trade.
“The Prime Minister has got his priorities all wrong for WA, but we will be standing up for what’s in WA’s best interests.”
O’Connor MP Rick Wilson, WA Senator Slade Brockman and Agriculture Region MP Steve Martin will be joining Mr Dutton at the show to try and collect more signatures for a petition the trio started against Labor’s proposed ban on the industry.
“Having Opposition leader Peter Dutton in Wagin is an opportunity for us to back this industry 100 per cent,” Mr Martin said.
“Peter Dutton doesn’t need convincing, but this is an opportunity for the sheep industry to meet him face-to-face and reinforce the importance of this industry.”
The Coalition earlier this week promised to reverse the Federal Government’s plan to phase out live sheep exports when it is re-elected — whether that be next term or the one after that.
Mr Dutton’s Friday visit is his second trip to regional WA in less than three weeks — after touring crime-ravaged Leonora and Laverton last month where he vowed to reintroduce the cashless debit card when the Coalition returns to Government.
“I’ll be in regional WA to show the Coalition’s support for the sheep export industry that has been left behind by State and Federal Labor. The PM and the Premier have turned their back on this critical industry and the jobs and livelihoods it sustains in WA,” he said.
“The Prime Minister talks a big game in WA, but his policies are harming WA. The WA Premier has previously expressed strong support for the sector, but now he appears to have gone silent.
“Labor’s decision to phase out sheep exports carries enormous consequences for West Australian agriculture and West Australian jobs.”
Premier Mark McGowan last year refused to throw his support behind the plan to shut down the industry, saying a moratorium on exports during the northern hemisphere summer had been “effective” and “appropriate”.
The industry employs about 3500 people across the supply chain, with 80 per cent of them based in WA, where the national trade is worth $92 million.
More than 600,000 sheep were exported from ports across Australia in 2021.
Major farming organisations have committed to not take part in discussions with the Commonwealth on how to phase out the trade.
This came after The West revealed a four-person panel will lead a consultation process to look at how and when Labor can carry out its election promise to ban live sheep exports — a pledge that came following the deaths of about 2400 sheep on a ship from Fremantle to the Middle East in 2017.
WAFarmers Present John Hassell has since sent a letter to Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, urging the Government to backflip on its policy.
“We ask that you work with your party leadership behind the scenes to convince them that it’s in the Government’s best interest to take a flexible approach to their election commitment and not lock in a date for its demise,” the letter states.
“If it’s good enough to crack open the superannuation policy, then it’s good enough to leave the door ajar for the live export trade to continue.”
Senator Watt told The West on Monday that Labor intends to deliver on its commitment.
“The Australian people know where Labor stands on this issue,” he said.
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Source by [earlynews24.com]