Diabolical day for regional WA

In a diabolical day for Western Australia’s agricultural sector, Federal Labor MPs in the House of Representatives have gone against the wishes of the State Labor Government and voted to terminate the live sheep exports industry.

“WA’s federal Labor members have betrayed their state,” Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said on exiting the House after the vote on the Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024 today.

“This is a disgraceful decision that will destroy confidence in the livestock industry and our rural communities in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions of WA should Labor be returned at the next federal election.

“The federal Coalition has committed to overturn Labor’s ban, and the industry’s only hope should Labor’s Bill be passed in the Senate will be to vote Labor out and vote a Dutton Coalition Government in.”

Mr Wilson said that WA’s farming communities should know tonight whether the Senate decides to send the Bill off to a committee inquiry, or fast-track it to a Senate debate and a vote next week.

“Following the sham House of Representatives inquiry into this bogus Bill undertaken in less than a month at the instigation of federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, a full Senate inquiry is an absolute must,” Mr Wilson said.

“I was one of the three Coalition members of the inquiry committee who lodged a dissenting report that was scathing of the short timeframe and disingenuous inquiry process unleashed by Minister Watt.

“Our dissenting report called on Parliament to reject the Bill, or if the Labor majority passed it in the House, as it now has, to refer this deplorable piece of draft legislation to a full Senate inquiry.”

In the light of WA Senator Fatima Payman’s crossing of the parliamentary floor this week to recognise the state of Palestine, in the face of her party’s opposition to that Greens initiative, Mr Wilson said all Labor Senators should be allowed a conscience vote on live exports.

“There were no repercussions from Labor for Senator Payman’s isolated stance, so there must be no implications from Mr Albanese or his party’s apparatchiks if Labor senators, especially WA ones, vote with the Coalition to refer the Bill to a Senate inquiry,” Mr Wilson said.

“We’re talking about the end of an important, largely Western Australian, industry here and such radical government intervention in the free market should not be taken as lightly or disrespectfully as Mr Watt has taken it.

“A Senate inquiry that examines Mr Watt’s exports banning Bill from its preamble right down to the minutiae of each and every subclause is the very least that WA’s Labor senators can do to ensure their proposed exports prohibition at least passes legal muster.”

Mr Wilson said that Minister Watt, who is based on the Gold Coast, has never been willing or able to work with the grass‑roots Western Australian farmers he is supposed to represent.

“That’s no surprise given he cannot even get on with his State Labor colleagues,” Mr Wilson said.

“Just last month, WA Minister for Agriculture Jackie Jarvis said Mr Watt’s live export ban was not in the interests of WA and it was difficult to see how she could work with him.”

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