Truckies lose work amid ban dissension
Some WA truck drivers who cart livestock have not worked for three weeks and are unlikely to get a job for several months, in the wake of WA’s two largest live sheep export companies stopping their operations.
Livestock and Rural Transport Association WA president Andy Jacob said his industry was in turmoil after WA’s biggest exporter Emanuel Exports had its licence temporarily suspended, and the second-largest, Livestock Shipping Services, voluntarily withdrew from the northern summer market.
“We have guys driving livestock carriers who have not had a job for three weeks now,” he said.
“The reality is they are unlikely to get a job for another three or so months. It’s very distressing for these people who still need to get food on the table.”
LRTA has 94 members, ranging from owner operators to larger fleet businesses, operating several hundred trucks.
Mr Jacob said the total live export industry, including both cattle and sheep, accounted for up to 48 per cent of all stock road movements in WA, so if there was a total ban, his industry could almost halve.
As an owner-operator, Mr Jacob said 85 per cent of his own income was derived from servicing the livestock industry, so his own business model would collapse amid a ban. “Many other carriers are in the same situation. It’s a real crisis and people are extremely worried for their livelihoods,” he said.
“Livestock carriers support positive animal welfare and are disappointed by the television footage, but we know that’s not the industry standard.”
Uncertainty levels are so high that members had stopped investing in new equipment.
“Within the past four weeks, I know of at least seven WA cancellations of new livestock crates — worth about $430,000 each — ordered from trailer manufacturers,” Mr Jacob said.
Meanwhile, WA’s biggest producer of livestock feed pellets for sheep, Macco Feeds, in Williams, faces laying off about half of its 20strong workforce in coming months.