LGAs slam live export ban

Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP says local government authorities’ criticism of Labor’s planned prohibition of live sheep exports reflects the economic and social impact the ban would have on regional Western Australian communities.

“Leaders of the shires of Merredin, Wagin, Narrogin, Katanning and Albany have all voiced concerns about the impact the ban will have on their people,” Mr Wilson said.

“For as long as anybody can remember, the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions of my electorate have been among the great sheep growing areas of the world.

“These proud agricultural regions were at the forefront of the Australian economy in the era when Australia rode on the sheep’s back; now Federal Labor is trying to kill off a staple of WA’s farming industry.”

A notice of motion is on the agenda of tonight’s City of Albany council meeting calling on the Commonwealth to reconsider its upcoming ban on live exports, and to “engage with industry stakeholders to develop sustainable solutions that ensure both the welfare of livestock and the continued and long-term viability of the agricultural and livestock transport sector”.

“The motion, set to be debated at the June council meeting, says the ban threatens “the viability of many rural communities in the face of an Australia-wide cost of living crisis,” Mr Wilson said.

“This development in Albany mirrors reaction from other communities in my electorate where live exports are a crucial component of regional economies.

“Workers in the entire supply chain – from shearers to livestock agents to truck drivers – stand to suffer, and with them their families and traders in the shires and towns that rely on their business.”

On May 27, Katanning Shire president Kristy D’Aprile told ABC’s Country Hour that her community was “reeling from the announcement knowing that it’s going to have a significantly detrimental impact” on both farmers and “those supporting businesses and general households and the community as a whole”.

Councillor D’Aprile said Katanning was still “in shock”.

Katanning is Mr Wilson’s hometown, and he said that Cr D’Aprile’s statement was 100 per cent true.

On May 21, Narrogin Shire President Leigh Ballard said Labor’s industry transition package was “a severe blow to our region and the broader agricultural sector”.

“It fails to address the economic ramifications for our regional communities and undermines Australia's reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality, sustainable produce,” Mr Ballard added.

On May 20, Shire of Merredin councillors voiced profound concern about the ban.

“Amid extensive media coverage, it appears that our federal representatives have prioritised the interests of a vocal, uninformed minority over those of our farmers, with seemingly little consideration for the devastating effects on rural communities,” a statement by the shire said.

“This decree jeopardises the livelihoods of countless generations of hard-working sheep farmers statewide, while also threatening the economic stability of rural towns reliant on servicing the agricultural sector.”

And on May 14, Shire of Wagin President Philip Blight said the town’s landmark Giant Ram, Bart, might be forced into retirement under a no-live-exports scenario.

"There is no point having a giant ram in a rural community that has no sheep," Cr Blight said.

Mr Wilson said that, unlike on the Gold Coast where the electorate office of Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is located, or in Canberra where Nr Watt’s ministerial office is, agriculture is still king in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions of WA.

“We must never forget the contribution that rural communities make to Australian society and the national economy,” he said.

“Instead of killing off a viable and humane industry that earns export dollars for Australia and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in a band-aid attempt at regional economic adjustment, Mr Watt must reconsider his live exports ban.

“The Federal Coalition will overturn the ban if elected at the next federal poll, and when that happens I’ll be among the first to congratulate the councillors, shire presidents and mayors who went in to bat for their regional WA communities.”

Mr Wilson’s electorate of O’Connor has the most local government authorities – 57 in all – of any federal electoral division.

 

Media contact: Chris Thomson, (08) 9842 2777; [email protected]

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