Live Export

Watt confirms senate inquiry into live sheep phase legislation

Terry Sim, 30/05/2024

Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt confirmed a Senate inquiry into live sheep export legislation.

A SENATE inquiry will be held into the Federal Government’s planned phaseout of live sheep exports by sea by 2028, Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt conceded today.

The admission by Mr Watt came under questioning by WA Senator Slade Brockman during a Senate Estimates hearing.

Minister Watt agreed with Senator Brockman that the phaseout of live sheep exports was a contentious issue and said he was “sure” there will be a Senate inquiry into the legislation.

When Senator Brockman asked if Minister Watt would guarantee a proper Senate inquiry into the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill, introduced in the House of Representatives today, Minister Watt replied “of course there will need to be an inquiry”.

WA senator Slade Brockman in Senate Estimates

The minister added he would “of course” expect the inquiry to have a hearing in Western Australia, adding that would be a “good idea”.

Mr Watt’s admission followed a failed attempt by National leader David Littleproud to stall progression of the government’s Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) tabled in the House of Representatives today.

Mr Littleproud moved an urgent motion to have the consequences of the Labor legislation investigated through a Standing Committee on Agriculture, but this was voted down by the house.

“Today’s urgent motion, seconded by WA MP for O’Connor Rick Wilson, was needed, because farmers deserve answers and a thorough investigation into Labor’s reckless decision,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We need a parliamentary inquiry to uncover Labor’s secrecy into the decision.

“It is shameful the motion was voted down,” he said.

Grassroots supporters of live sheep exports released plans for a truck convoy demonstration through the Western Australian capital of Perth tomorrow, as the first stage of industry group-funded campaign – KeepTheSheep – to fight the proposed phaseout.

The KeepTheSheep website was launched yesterday and more than 8200 people have signed a petition in support of the campaign. By 4pm today, about 1300 vehicles had registered for the tomorrow’s demonstration.

WA Farmers president John Hassell welcomed the Senate inquiry as mooted by Mr Watt, but said he wanted to see its terms of reference.

“I want to know what the terms of reference will be; it’s pretty important that the financial impact on small communities in Western Australia is covered.”

Mr Hassell said the KeepThe Sheep campaign will target key electorates in Western Australia at the next federal election – Tangney, Pearce, Swan, Cowan and Hasluck.

The WAFarmer leader hoped the inquiry represented an admission by the government it should reassess its position on the live sheep trade.

“That’s what we want – we want the reversal of this.

“Why would they agree to it so quickly, they’ve just off a sudden realising there will be a backlash,” he said.

“I think when they realise that if we can turn five seats over in WA and WA on our own can roll the government, they are all of a sudden looking for a reason why.”

The KeepTheSheep campaign is funded by WAFarmers, the WA Shearing industry Association, the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, The Australian Livestock Exporters Council and the Stud Merino Breeders Association of WA.

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