Live Export

“Unintended consequences” of live sheep export ban dominate NTCA discussions + PICS

Eric Barker, 17/03/2023

David Connolly addressing the NT Cattleman’s conference for 2023.

PRODUCERS in the Northern Territory have raised serious concerns about their main market, with the Federal Government’s planned phase out of live sheep exports dominating discussions both from speakers at the NT Cattlemen’s Association’s annual conference in Darwin today and in general conversation.

The Gillard Government’s suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 remains fresh in the minds of many in the NT, who are still waiting for pay outs from the class action which ruled the ban unlawful.

The ‘Long Haul’ is this year’s conference theme, with live exports, Indigenous policy and gas developments all on the agenda.

While expressing his respect for the Federal agriculture minister, president David Connolly, who was elected for a third year in the job, said phasing out live sheep exports was “a slippery slope”  and a major concern for the cattle industry.

“Losing the live sheep trade will do nothing but empower who do not just oppose live export, but livestock farming in general,” he said.

“Those who would seek an end to our livelihoods because they believe livestock farming to be evil, to be wrong and to have out-lived our utility for modern society.

“This is not a fight that we started but has been picked against. Unfortunately it is the government that has picked this fight by listening to the opinions of the uninformed.

“25 peak industry groups have signed a letter stating that the ban drew a red line in the sand that cannot be crossed. I can assure you that 25 disparate agricultural groups agreeing on anything is historic.”

Live sheep ban not a surprise

With the Labor Party taking the phase out of live sheep exports to the last two elections, Mr Connolly said the government had “already been successful” in forcing the industry to update its practices.

“It is actually the threat of closure that has changed this live sheep industry,” he said.

“The Labor government should be singing from the rooftop about its part in how they forced this industry, which was not good enough, to bring about sustainable change. This is the ladder that government can use to walk down from their position.”

The phase out of live sheep exports is happening alongside the industry’s struggle to receive pay outs for the live export class action. Mr Connolly said the payout process was “politically driven”.

Labor committed to cattle industry, Murray Watt

Mr Connolly’s speech was followed by an address from agriculture minister Murray Watt, who did not take questions or address the live export class action. Mr Watt said the Albanese Government were strong supporters of live cattle exports.

“With the Albanese Government, you have a strong supporter in Canberra when it comes to live cattle exports,” he said.

“We want to support the live cattle industry to grow and prosper in the future. In your Federal Labor representative members, I can assure you that you have strong champions in Canberra. And in Prime Minister Albanese, you have a strong supporter – who has travelled to cattle properties in the Territory as a guest of the NTCA.”

Agriculture minister Murray Watt talking live export in Darwin.

Mr Watt said the government was keen to make the phase out of live sheep export an orderly process that allows producers to keep growing sheep.

“I understand that many people in this room do not agree with the phase out of live sheep exports. But there are groups in the community that want to see it disappear overnight and that is not our government’s position – we recognise that this will have a serious impact on many people,” he said.

“I do not accept that this will be the end of the sheep industry. Our government and our predecessors opened up big new markets for sheepmeat in the UK, in India and we hope to land a good deal with the EU.”

Mr Watt said live sheep exports had lost support from politicians across the political spectrum.

“Let’s not forget that less than 12 months ago the now Federal deputy leader of the Liberal Party (Sussan Ley) was calling for the live sheep export industry to be banned,” he said.

  • Beef Central will have more stories from the NTCA conference – which covered Indigenous policy, biosecurity and market trends.


Kids from Tipperary Station opening the conference.


Queensland proudcers Blair Knuth and WIll Wilson.

Emily Fagg and Romy Carey from the NTCA with Jim Carey from JRC contracting (middle)


Heidi Wright from Wright Social and Jared Wilson from Pioneer.


Nutrien Katherine’s Caitlin White and Ben Coutts with Peta Schelks from Darwin (middle).


Steve Osmond and Jas Heales from Ridley and Paddy Ryan from Coopers/Allflex.


Ian Biggs from the CRC for Developing Northern Australia and Kerry Kane from Rum Jungle Meat Exports.


Greencollar’s Dave Viner and Kate Byrne.


Richard Trivett from Austrex with former Northern Territory MP and member of the live sheep export phase out panel Warren Snowdon.


Lucy Daley, from Katherine Downs, Bridget Fox from Phoenix Spelling Yard, Chelsea and Kirra Riggs from Lakefield Station and Peta Stockwell from Sunday Creek.


Amber Driver and Gemma Watt from Elkedra Station and Brodie Lockhart from Darwin



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  1. Peter Dunn, 17/03/2023

    Correct Ruth Doran, and correct David Connolly. The Minister’s rhetoric about Albanese support for live cattle export is a smokescreen. The deal would have been done with his left faction, to lay off the cattle industry so as to lull cattle producers into a false sense of security that it is only about the sheep industry. Typical tactic. Don’t fall for it. Line up with the sheep producers.

  2. John Armstrong, 17/03/2023

    I hope Trivett put a good headlock on that Snowdon bloke!

  3. Ruth Doran., 17/03/2023

    Banning live sheep exports from Australia could have adverse effects as the importing countries might source their sheep from countries that have no animal ethics at all.

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