Chal­lenges for live ex­port hope­fuls

Narrogin Observer - - News - ■ Peter Milne

For the live ex­port trade to re­main a vi­able and sig­nif­i­cant part of WA agri­cul­ture it has many more chal­lenges than the big­gest ship­per Emanuel Ex­ports los­ing its li­cence last week.

WA Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan told Par­lia­ment last week that Emanuel Ex­ports and its re­lated com­pa­nies ac­counted for 71 per cent of WA live sheep ex­ports in 2016 and 74 per cent in 2017.

Ship­pers hop­ing to fill the void left by Emanuel will need more than fi­nan­cial strength, tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­ity, ac­cess to car­ri­ers and mar­ket­ing con­tacts. They will need con­fi­dence to move for­ward de­spite divi­sion among key gov­ern- ment play­ers, un­cer­tainty about stock­ing den­si­ties, pos­si­ble le­gal chal­lenges and the in­creas­ing like­li­hood of a Fed­eral La­bor gov­ern­ment that will phase out live ex­ports.

Last week, Ms MacTier­nan called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fi­nan­cially sup­port WA sheep farm­ers and pro­ces­sors ad­just to the changes in the trade.

“The ac­tions of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment over the past six months have led to a halt in live ex­ports and an in­evitable re­duc­tion in the trade,” she said.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Littleproud said he shared WA farm­ers’ frus­tra­tion that an ex­porter had be­haved in a way that caused them to lose their li­cence.

He said he had kept the live ex­port trade open de­spite enor­mous pres­sure to close it.

“Ex­porters are cur­rently mak­ing moves to send sheep ships, so the mar­ket is work­ing, and ex­porters think it is vi­able,” Mr Littleproud said.

“So it’s dif­fi­cult to see why Min­is­ter MacTier­nan would call for com­pen­sa­tion.”

The Lib­eral Party chaos in Can­berra last week is mixed news for WA sheep grow­ers want­ing to see the live ex­port trade con­tinue.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has pro­moted Lib­eral NSW back­bencher Sus­san Ley, who in May in­tro­duced a pri­vate mem­bers Bill to re­strict the live ex­port trade, to As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment and Ter­ri­to­ries.

As a mem­ber of the min­istry, Ms Ley may be un­able to con­tinue to push her Bill.

The lead­er­ship change also saw sup­port for the coali­tion plum­met.

Newspoll on Mon­day showed coali­tion sup­port on a two-party pre­ferred ba­sis drop from 49 per cent to 44 per cent, mak­ing a Fed­eral La­bor gov­ern­ment with a pol­icy to phase out the live ex­port trade more likely.

Be­fore the elec­tion, which could be as late as May next year, ex­porters want­ing to restart the trade have other un­cer­tain­ties to pon­der.

The much talked about threat to ex­porters of in­junc­tions from an­i­mal ac­tivists re­mains but un­der re­vised reg­u­la­tions can now oc­cur well be­fore the ship is loaded, re­duc­ing the risk to the ship­per.

An­i­mals Aus­tralia di­rec­tor Lyn White said the an­i­mal wel­fare group’s le­gal team would de­cide on a case-by-case ba­sis whether to chal­lenge the law­ful­ness of any ap­proval of a live ex­port ship­ment.

She said the next month was high risk in terms of heat stress “which is why the Aus­tralian Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion took the po­si­tion that ship­ments should not leave dur­ing this pe­riod”.

There has been no de­ci­sion on the stock­ing den­si­ties that would ap­ply to ships leav­ing af­ter Oc­to­ber 31 when the re­stric­tions for the north­ern sum­mer end.

A Fed­eral Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture spokesman said it was con­sid­er­ing stock­ing den­si­ties on voy­ages af­ter Oc­to­ber 31 and would no­tify stake­hold­ers well in ad­vance.

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