Laws to ban live sheep exports by 2028 pass parliament following lengthy debate

Laws to ban live sheep exports by 2028 pass parliament following lengthy debate

In short:

Live sheep exports by sea will be phased out over the next four years, after laws banning the trade passed parliament on Monday.

Earlier in the day, opponents met with the prime minister to request a Senate inquiry into the legislation.

What’s next?

WA Premier Roger Cook says he will continue to negotiate for additional support for farmers affected by the laws.

The federal government’s laws to ban Australia’s live sheep trade have passed parliament, despite last-minute attempts by opponents to postpone the bill’s passage.

The Senate on Monday night voted on the legislation to end the trade by May 2028, after the bill passed the lower house last week.

The phase-out was a 2022 Labor election commitment and has proved popular with animal activist groups.

It has also sparked widespread protests from those concerned about the impact the laws could have on farming communities across Western Australia, which is the only Australian state or territory to continue to export live sheep by sea.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt told parliament a $107 million transition package would be adequate support for affected farmers.

Murray Watt said there was widespread support for the policy.(ABC News)

“This policy is about keeping jobs in Western Australia, rather than sending those jobs offshore. In doing so, we will be putting forward a strong future for the Western Australian sheep industry,” he said.

Mr Watt acknowledged the concerns raised by those in the industry, but said the policy had “widespread” support across the country.

“The latest surveys I’ve seen are demonstrating that even in Western Australia … this policy that we have of phasing out this industry, has the support of about 70 per cent of Western Australians,” he said.

Push for Senate inquiry

Federal Nationals leader David Littleproud earlier on Monday asked parliament to delay the passage of the legislation, in favour of a Senate inquiry and further discussion.

“There is plenty of time to sit down and make sure that they understand and explain the science and the economics as to why they’re shutting this industry down,” he said.

David Littleproud had asked parliament to put the brakes on passing the legislation.(ABC News: Mick Tsikas)

“That’s the respect that should be shown to Western Australian producers, to industry, so that they understand the ideology behind this decision.”

Mr Littleproud called upon WA Labor Senator Fatima Payman to vote against the bill in the wake of her decision to cross the floor on the issue of recognising Palestinian statehood, which saw her suspended indefinitely from Labor’s caucus.

“She’s prepared to cross the floor on the Palestinian people, she should cross the floor again for the West Australian people,” he said.

Communities impacted

The Keep the Sheep delegation met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday afternoon in a last-ditch effort to sway the government. 

Industry veterinarian Holly Ludeman said the group left the meeting feeling “disheartened”.

“He didn’t really seem to understand the nuances of the impacts on our communities,” she said.

She said the group would mobilise in coming weeks to campaign against Federal Labor MPs in marginal seats like Tangney, Hasluck, Swan, Pearce and Cowan.

“We will target every marginal seat across the country that is Labor held if they don’t listen to us,” WA Farmers president John Hassell told reporters before the vote.

Keep the Sheep spokesman Ben Sutherland said the legislation would have a significant impact on regional communities.

“This bill is going to take my livelihood away from me, 30 per cent of that,” he said.

Ben Sutherland (far right) says the ban will have a devastating impact on communities.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

“It affects my IGA, it affects my pub, it affects my sporting groups, it affects everything that goes on in my rural community.

“They need to come and see that, to see what damage they’re doing to us.”

WA Premier Roger Cook said the state government would continue to negotiate for additional support for farmers affected by the ban.

“We’re confident we will get a better deal for WA farmers,” he said.

“We are exploring a range of issues with the federal government in terms of the assistance for farmers … those conversations are ongoing.”

Read More

Zaļā Josta - Reklāma