Live ex­port in­dus­try ‘dead man walk­ing’

Countryman - - NEWS - Zach Relph

Aus­tralia’s live ex­port trade is “hang­ing on by its fin­ger­nails” and in need of re­cap­tur­ing pub­lic trust, a mar­ket­ing and strat­egy con­sul­tant cham­pi­oning the in­dus­try warns.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist Toby Ralph told Coun­try­man the na­tion’s live ex­port sec­tor was a “dead man walk­ing” and in des­per­ate need of a re­vi­talised pub­lic im­age.

The blunt as­sess­ment came be­fore this year’s Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion con­ven­tion in Perth to­day.

Mr Ralph, who is among the event’s speak­ers along­side WA Agri­cul­tural Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan, said pos­i­tive live ex­port sto­ries needed to be con­veyed to en­sure the in­dus­try’s longevity.

“I’ll be sug­gest­ing that be­cause of in­ac­tion and, worse still, in­ex­pe­ri­ence and lethargy, now live ex­port has lost its so­cial li­cence, so is a dead man walk­ing,” he said.

“Po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing is in­suf­fi­cient to keep the trade op­er­at­ing, but that pub­lic trust must now be won back and that’s dif­fi­cult and hugely ex­pen­sive to do.

“Live ex­port is hang­ing on by its fin­ger­nails.

“The in­dus­try has a dif­fi­cult but good story to tell and has ab­jectly failed to tell it to the pub­lic.”

The Maysora left Fre­man­tle Port on Satur­day af­ter­noon with about 22,000 wethers on board for Live­stock Ship­ping Ser­vices, mark­ing the first ship car­ry­ing to live sheep to de­part WA since June 6.

LSS ex­port man­ager Paul Keenan con­firmed the de­par­ture and said the Maysora, which was pri­mar­ily car­ry­ing live­stock, was en route to Jor­dan. It comes af­ter PGA launched its pro-live ex­ports cam­paign in July in an ef­fort to high­light a live ex­port halt’s eco­nomic and so­cial con­se­quences to sheep pro­duc­ers, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties and WA’s global trad­ing part­ners.

While Mr Ralph has pre­vi­ously ad­vised National Farmers’ Fed­er­a­tion and Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia re­gard­ing live ex­port woes, the PR ex­pert main­tains he is not work­ing on PGA’s mar­ket­ing drive.

How­ever, Mr Ralph said the in­dus­try faced an up­hill bat­tle to sway pop­u­lar opin­ion in favour of live ex­ports and needed spe­cialised com­mu­ni­ca­tions help.

“There will al­ways be an­other scan­dal — the trade’s op­po­nents will al­ready have up­set­ting videos ready to re­lease — the next cri­sis is just around the cor­ner,” he said.

“The pos­i­tive case ex­ists but it’s com­plex, com­par­a­tive and has to be made to the pub­lic, not just to politi­cians.

“It’s not just about facts, it’s far more com­plex. It’s a job for a pro­fes­sional rather than en­thu­si­asts and true be­liev­ers.

“That said, if the case is not made, in my opin­ion, the in­dus­try is a dead man walk­ing.”

Live­stock Ship­ping Ser­vices, Emanuel Ex­ports and Wel­lard rep­re­sen­ta­tives were also sched­uled to speak at the con­ven­tion to­day.

Pic­ture: Ben Crab­tree

Sheep ship Maysora, pic­tured in 2013, de­parted Fre­man­tle on Septem­ber 22.

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