Our website has recently been updated. Make use of the search to quickly find what you are looking for.

MacLoran Farm

Government crosses the live sheep exports red line

[As published in the Stock Journal]

Interesting is the diplomatic way to describe the way the Australian Government chose to advise industry how and when it would end live sheep exports. We received email advice just before close of business on Friday for a briefing the next morning, Saturday 11 May. Of the 80 odd people who joined the meeting, a good portion were animal activist representatives.

Despite the ridiculously short notice, not briefing those that will be severely impacted by this decision prior to and separate from those that just wanted to celebrate a political win demonstrates a poor understanding of and respect for the industry.

A few days after the announcement, the Animal Justice Party publicly claimed that it did a preference deal with the Albanese Government in the March Dunkley By-election to secure its policy to phase out live sheep exports by sea. The AJP stated it was proud to have delivered the ‘knockout blow’ to live sheep exports and that it was already in deep preference negotiations with major parties for the upcoming federal election, with ending live cattle exports the next policy and political win.

It's hard to know the veracity of the AJP claims, but the series of events don’t look good. The government has a bit of work to do if it wants to restore the livestock industry’s trust.

The independent panel’s report was finally released, 199 days after it was provided to the government. The report makes 28 recommendations. The government has supported 23 of them and noted the other 5. Industry unanimously considers the 4-year phase out timeframe (1 May 2028) is not appropriate and the $107 million transition package over 5 years is nowhere near enough. There are a range of issues industry will need to work through, and the role of the transition advocate and the scheduled review of progress in 2026-27 will be critical.

In March 2023, the coalition of 25 state and national livestock industry bodies, including Livestock SA, advised government this wasn’t just a livestock exports issue it was a red line issue, as we would never support legitimate agricultural industries being closed for political reasons, or to suit activist agendas.

The government crossing this line should alarm every agricultural industry, and other non-agricultural industries that may be unpopular to an unquantified element of society, as it demonstrates that science, performance, economics, international relationships, and impacts to industry and regional communities will be overlooked in favour of ideological agendas.

As an exporting nation, we already must navigate increasing geopolitical instability, greater global competition, and more discerning and demanding customers and consumers. Adding a domestic activist ideology hurdle to trade exposed industries is an own goal and not in the national interest.

By Travis Tobin

Published: 21 May 2024