NEW Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke pledged his support to the live export industry during a visit to WA last week.
Mr Burke, who was in WA for the Federal Government’s community Cabinet meeting, took the opportunity to meet with various sectors of the agriculture industry, including live exporters.
“I think Australia has world’s best practice when it comes to live export and in many ways we have led the world in that area,” Mr Burke said.
“I am very optimistic about the future of the industry and I expect it to continue to improve and continue to grow.”
Mr Burke said he had specific plans for handling challenges faced by the industry.
“I am very encouraged by the industry being on top of those issues and it is not like Australia has had to catch up on world’s best practice — we have led it,” he said.
“I expect Australia to continue to lead it and as the Australian public expects us to have world’s best practice we must continue to maintain that level.”
WA Livestock Exporters Association chairman John Edwards said Mr Burke was probably the first federal minister to visit a WA live export feedlot.
“The fact that he has taken this opportunity within weeks of assuming office is very encou-raging for the industry,” Mr Edwards said.
“We were impressed by his grasp of industry issues, particularly efforts being made by every sector of the industry in WA to set and maintain standards of world’s best practice.
“Industry is endeavouring to maintain and improve the performance of the industry.
“It is not easy when we are already travel-ling at 99.9pc survival rates for cattle and 99.2pc for sheep, but there is always room for improvement and we acknowledge that.
“Industry is out to better its performances where it can and the joint program in place that is focused on end markets is proving successful.
“This has been an ongoing program for many years to improve animal handling in our overseas markets and it is achieving good results.
“Mr Burke has obviously traveled the country extensively in the short time he has been in his position and has come to appreciate, probably more than anyone in politics, what livestock exports mean to rural and regional Australia.
“We are looking for unequivocal support from the government over live exports and in turn he has asked a number of things of industry and we will strive to meet those requirements.”