BOSS SHAKE-UP FOR EXPORT LOBBY GROUP
The chief executive of Australia’s livestock export lobby group has stepped down after just three months as figurehead of a campaign to retain live sheep shipments to the Middle East.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council told members this week that Brett Pointing, a former Queensland Police deputy commissioner, was “stepping down due to a change in personal circumstances”.
The Canberra-based organisation refused to elaborate on the circumstances.
The live sheep sector has grappled with rising uncertainty since footage of dead and heatstressed sheep from Emanuel Exports’ Awassi Express voyage to the Middle East surfaced on April 8.
The trade has been thrown into disarray since the footage was released, with Canberra-based ALEC battling an increasing political battle to keep afloat the live sheep trade. Unable to pin down a chief executive, it has been left to former Labor minister and powerbroker Simon Crean to head the industry campaign in his role as ALEC chairman.
Mr Crean said Mr Pointing, who only replaced departed ALEC chief executive Simon Westaway in October, would leave at the end of January and return to Queensland.
He said it was “a regret that Brett is leaving”.
“I understand that it is a decision not taken lightly,” he said.
“However, personal circumstances change and we understand and support Brett’s decision. Brett joined ALEC in what is a challenging time for the industry.”
Mr Pointing will be succeeded by the group’s policy and regulatory affairs manager Mark HarveySutton, who has been promoted to the top position.
Mr Harvey-Sutton had previously worked as general manager of rural affairs at the National Farmers’ Federation and as a policy director at the Cattle Council of Australia, before joining ALEC last month. Mr Pointing was appointed after Mr Westaway revealed in September he would not renew the two-year contract he signed with ALEC in 2016.
It is understood Mr Westaway had been reluctant to move from Melbourne to be based in Canberra full-time at ALEC’s headquarters.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association WA president Tony Seabrook was not concerned about Mr Pointing’s departure and said it did not reflect instability among ALEC’s hierarchy.
“It isn’t an indication of a major problem, I don’t think so,” he said.
“But, it would be a great shame if Simon Crean was to ever walk away.”
Last month, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources released an independent heatstress risk assessment draft report recommending changes to shipping standards en route to the Middle East to bolster animal welfare regulations.
The raft of proposals includes implementing a 28C wet bulb temperature limit and extending the definition of the northern hemisphere summer from May to October, instead of June to August.
Representatives from WA’s live sheep trade, including Mr Seabrook, have strongly opposed the report.