The Nationals WA have welcomed the recommendations of the McCarthy Review into live sheep exports.
Leader Mia Davies said the changes, including a reduction of stock numbers on ships during the Middle Eastern summer and prioritising animal welfare over mortality, were positive measures.
“Dr McCarthy’s review and the Federal Government’s acceptance of his recommendations mark a significant shift in the way animal welfare in live export will be managed going forward,” Ms Davies said.
“Most notably, the new measure of performance for the live export sector will no longer be mortality, it will be animal welfare.
“The Nationals WA support the fact there will be continuity of trade over the coming northern summer months, which provides some level of certainty to WA producers and the thousands of people who work in the supply chain.”
Ms Davies was particularly pleased with the toughening of penalties for directors of live export companies who flaunt the rules.
“Directors will now face fines of up to $2.1 million or 10 years prison – this sends a strong message that those who bring this industry into disrepute will be severely punished, as they should be,” she said.
Ms Davies congratulated Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s swift response to last month’s airing of footage taken aboard the Awassi Express in 2017.
“Unlike Federal Labor’s kneejerk response to simply ban live exports or State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s proposal for a blanket ban across the Northern Hemisphere summer, Minister Littleproud has taken quick and sensible action to ensure Western Australia’s crucial live sheep export trade can continue,” Ms Davies said.
“I note that Minister MacTiernan is still proposing to restrict live exports irrespective of the recommendations of the McCarthy Review. This is an appalling attitude to take and one which will further fuel the uncertainty the Minister has created in the industry.
“I am calling on the State Agricultural Minister to remove herself and her department from this space and let industry get on with the job of adjusting to the new operating environment.”
The Nationals agriculture spokesperson Colin de Grussa said the impact of Dr McCarthy’s recommendations on supply chain value would not be immediately clear but the Federal Government had sent a clear signal that the industry is important and needs to be maintained.
“I firmly believe all WA sheep producers have the highest commitment to animal welfare standards at heart and expect all parts of the supply chain to uphold those standards,” he said.
“Producers want their representative organisations to work together to raise consumer awareness of the wonderful work our farmers are doing to produce food and fibre for the world.”