FEDERAL Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has taken a swipe at the Queensland Labor Party after it voted to end all live animal exports at its State conference in Brisbane two weeks ago.
Mr Littleproud let loose on the outcome stating that the vote had shown “Labor’s true colours have been exposed”.
“This showed exactly where the Labor Party was headed – it would not just ban the export of live sheep, but the export of all livestock, driving farming families off the land in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland and forcing national prices for meat to crash,” Mr Littleproud said.
He said there were about 10,000 jobs associated to the live export industry, most of them in rural WA, Qld and the NT.
Mr Littleproud said farming families would be greatly affected by any ban on live animal exports – as it would “destroy their way of life”.
“Federal Labor keeps telling us it will stop after it has banned live sheep exports – it says it won’t ban cattle exports,” Mr Littleproud said.
“But then its Queensland organisation votes to ban the lot.
“The cat is out of the bag and we know where Labor is going on live exports – a full ban.
“You’d think Labor would have learned from the disaster it created in 2011, but it refuses to.”
The Queensland Labor Party wouldn’t comment on the vote during its conference, until the conference notes were finalised which was expected to be in a week’s time.
However there appears to be concerns from the union movement that abattoir workers were missing out on work due to the live export trade.
Labor members said that just because the Queensland branch of the party voted for a policy change, doesn’t necessarily mean that the QLD Labor Government will enact the policy – especially if the Federal arm pulls them into line.
Labor Agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon said he had “seen the resolution of the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party”.
“I understand their concern about abattoir jobs here in Australia,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“We won’t be phasing out the live cattle trade, but we are developing a Strategic Red Meat Industry Plan to maximise value-adding opportunities and jobs here in Australia.
“We are committed to phasing out the live sheep trade because the sector hasn’t been able to demonstrate it can meet reasonable animal welfare expectations.
“The cattle trade has been able to do so but a Shorten Labor government will improve independent oversight of all animal exports to ensure that continues to be the case”
Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said there’s “no surprise” that the Labor Party wanted to end live sheep exports, as Federal Labor have already stated they want to end the trade within five years.
“What the minister was calling out was the banning of all live animal exports, which shows their hidden agenda to close down the trade,” Mr Wilson said.
“That’s why we need to be internally vigilant because a future Labor government will seek to close down the trade.”
Mr Wilson supported the minister’s position on setting a high standard for live exports of sheep but said it was important for the trade to continue to show to the community that it can be done safely and humanly under the new standards – which would make it difficult for Labor to prove otherwise.
WAFarmers Livestock president David Slade was quick to respond to the Queensland Labor Party’s vote for a total ban of live export, saying that WAFarmers supported Mr Littleproud’s comments “slamming the Queensland Labor Party on their vote to ban all live exports and questioning their tactics”.
He said the Queensland Labor Party’s position had “unearthed the hidden agenda of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), which is clearly another attempt to win votes”.
“Clearly ALP has not learnt from their mistakes from 2011, which had enormous impacts on cattle businesses and lives, still being dealt within the Courts today,” Mr Slade said.
“The Qld Labor Party is jeopardising a $3 billion trade and the ramifications of a ban on all live exports would impact every regional community and city within Australia.
“This State based decision has exposed the policies of the ALP in Canberra, despite the fact that ALP previously said cattle exports will not be impacted by changes made to the live sheep trade.
“Can we trust the Labor Government to make decisions?”
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman David Stoate also expressed his “significant disappointment” on the position of the Queensland position on banning all live exports, “particularly from a State that has such a large cattle industry”.
“Whilst Mr Littleproud is right to call out the Labor Party on this issue, we believe there is more he and the Coalition government can do to show leadership to support the industry and related businesses in relation to providing certainty around sheep live exports,” Mr Stoate said.
“The fact that the Commonwealth regulator did not provide reasons for its decision to cancel Emanuel’s export licence on August 21 is of significant concern from a transparency and good governance perspective.
“The industry and related businesses who have lost cashflow and are having to face tough decisions regarding the future of their businesses are owed an explanation.
“The current uncertainty regarding sheep live exports has now gone on well in excess of the 11 weeks of the 2011 ban to cattle live exports to Indonesia (now just shy of 13 weeks (90 days) since the last sheep shipment from Fremantle).
“The industry cannot be left in limbo any longer.”
Port Hedland Export Depot owner Paul Brown said it “just reinforces to the farming and live export industries how little Labor understands agriculture in Australia or the relationships with our international customers that have been developed over decades”.
“Just as the live cattle industry in northern Australia has steadied itself, having just signed a Free Trade Agreement and rebuilt