FORMER Kalgoorlie MP Graeme Campbell believes the federal government needs to act to open up Iran as a potential market for live sheep exports.
Having recently returned from a trip to Iran, Mr Campbell believes the opportunity exists to export live sheep to Iran through the Iranian free trade island of Qeshm just off the Iranian coast.
With Iran having a population of roughly 80 million people and considering the country is currently taking no livestock at all, Mr Campbell believes the prospects are exciting.
"It could be the largest market for live sheep Australia has," he said.
"Having met with the Qeshm free trade authority there is absolutely no doubt they have the power to authorise the importation of live sheep."
Mr Campbell said the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) had already supported the exportation of Tier 1 boxed lamb to Qeshm and said once the meat was there, it could go anywhere in Iran.
"Still they refuse to support live exports, it doesn't make sense," he said.
Having come back to Australia with the support of the Qeshm Free Trade Authority, Mr Campbell said he hit a brick wall with the Federal Government refusing to support the livestock trade.
He said there needed to be a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the central government in Tehran, before live exports to Iran could occur.
Having spoken to the office of Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, Mr Campbell said he had offered to bring to Australia a high level delegation that would contain people from the Iranian Central Government and Qeshm free trade area to sign the MOU and get the ball rolling however he said the government was "not interested".
Mr Campbell said he couldn't understand why there was an issue with exports to the area and said biosecurity wouldn't be an issue because Iran had the same diseases Australia already had, plus Qeshm was an island.
"I am fed up with the lack of care this government has for the rural sector," he said.
"This government has stuffed Indonesia, it's stuffed Saudi Arabia, and now it won't let us develop Iran."
But WA Live Exporters Association chairman John Edwards said he wasn't sure what the demand would be like from Iran for Australian sheep.
"Iran was certainly a healthy sheep market for Australia from the 1970s for about eight or nine years," Mr Edwards said.
"These days Iran was now a net exporter of sheep to UAE markets."
Mr Edwards said while he was aware of some Australian exporters making commercial inquiries in Iran, there were moves afoot by the Federal Government to possibly develop a health protocol and a MOU with Iran.
"At the moment Iran isn't even Export Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) approved, so there is a long way to go," he said.
"These things take time.
"Graeme Campbell can say what he likes but these are the realities of working through the federal government to develop new markets, it can't just happen overnight."