REMEMBER when Alannah MacTiernan flippantly declared that if foot and mouth disease entered Australia it would not be all bad, because meat prices would fall?
Thankfully, that spelt the end of the political career of WA's worst-ever agriculture minister.
Federal and State Labor have taken so many pot-shots at WA's meat producers in recent months, it's hard to believe Ms MacTiernan's extraordinary gaffe occurred just 14 months ago.
While she has since been put out to political pasture, other metro-centric Labor politicians have taken her place in a sustained attack on WA agriculture.
WA's farmers had to fight tooth-and-nail to similarly put the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021, championed by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti, out to pasture.
The Act now lies in tatters at Premier Roger Cook's feet, after farmers from around the State stood up to him and Mr Buti, and stared them both down, as truly as any Australian kelpie ever has with a wayward flock of sheep.
Alongside my WA Liberal colleagues, notably senator Slade Brockman and MLCs Steve Martin and Neil Thomson, I was proud to have been part of the push to corral Labor back toward a more reasonable track.
But we, and WA's farmers, will need to be vigilant, because there is still so much uncertainty over the regulatory environment Labor will impose to replace its ill-fated heritage Act.
Make no mistake, the gaffes, blunders and backflips, while amateurish, are not the random acts of some passive, trendy-left social experiment or trial.
They are the tip of the iceberg of what is a cool, calculating and systemic attack by Labor and its activist fan base on the State's agricultural sector.
Nothing could epitomise the insidious and invidious nature of this attack more fully than Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's unilateral decision to ban live sheep exports and the heavily-slanted, poorly-designed propaganda process to achieve that end.
I condemn Mr Albanese's attempts to avoid scrutiny by delaying the reporting date and thus outcomes of consultations undertaken by the Independent Panel on the Phase Out of Live Sheep Exports by Sea.
At a time when the sheep, meat and wool industry is suffering a dramatic collapse of confidence, due largely to the government's impending ban on live sheep exports, WA livestock producers deserve clarity on when the death knell is likely to toll on this industry.
Since the panel began its consultations earlier this year, saleyard prices for store sheep have plummeted.
Last week, a farmer emailed me his bill of sale to have a look at.
At Katanning, he sold some sheep at $8 a head and some as low as $2/head. By the time he deducted freight from Albany to Katanning, he would have received an invoice for supplying those sheep.
Last year, comparable sheep were fetching $80-$100.
The complete loss of confidence among sheep producers is due to the unprecedented attack on a lawful and viable industry that acts as a pressure relief valve for sheep that cannot be processed locally or sold into Eastern States markets.
One small consolation is that the recent recommencement of shipments to the Middle East took about 100,000 sheep out of the system.
Without that tried and proven relief valve, farmers had been faced with the prospect of destroying thousands of sheep of no commercial value.
The irony is these tragic and perverse animal welfare outcomes on Australian soil will be driven by the same small group of animal activists who have convinced Mr Albanese that the live sheep export trade has no social licence and is perpetuating animal cruelty overseas.
The industry is aware the panel's report will comment upon a plethora of far-reaching consequences that the Federal Government never imagined when it hatched its ill-conceived election promise to ban the trade, thereby pandering to its inner metropolitan voter base at the expense of WA's regional communities.
By delaying the outcomes of the panel's community and industry consultations, the Albanese government can continue to peddle the lie that banning live sheep exports is what most Australians want.
The inconvenient truth is that this industry has radically improved through self-regulation backed by sound science and is achieving animal welfare outcomes superior to any other exporting country in the world.
For a long time, it was widely accepted that Australia rode on the sheep's back.
And WA producers were at the forefront of this nation-building industry.
Australia owes a debt of gratitude to its sheep and wheat producers.
They fed a developing nation and have kept it growing.
They proudly export their produce to markets around the world.
And for almost two centuries they've been the economic lifeblood of the southern part of the continent.
It's high time that Labor, both State and Federal, gave farmers a break and got off their backs.
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