The Hon. David Littleproud , Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Media Release, 14 November 2023
Labor failed to undertake modelling on the impact of banning live sheep exports, before announcing the shutdown of the live sheep export trade.
The revelations came during Question Time in Parliament, when leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asked Prime Minister Anthony Albanese if Labor had undertaken any economic modelling on the impact of closing the $85 million industry.
The Prime Minister could not cite any modelling and instead claimed Labor’s policy was not having a significant impact on industry and the government was consulting with the sector.
Mr Littleproud said the Prime Minister’s response directly contradicted the experience of farmers and their peak industry representatives.
“More than 20 of Australia’s peak agricultural bodies co-signed a letter to the Prime Minister, urging Labor to reconsider its ban on live sheep exports, stating ‘the fallout associated with the policy announcement is already occurring with a devastating collapse in producer confidence and the sheep industry – not just in Western Australia, but nationally’,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Farmers sent this letter to the Prime Minister six weeks ago but it hasn’t been responded to.
“Labor is destroying the livelihoods of 3000 people but failed to properly consider the wider implications.
“The Prime Minister’s response shows Labor doesn’t understand the live sheep export trade and doesn’t even have the courtesy to respond to farmers’ real concerns.
“In the past 12 months, sheep prices across the nation have plummeted by up to 70 per cent, industry confidence has collapsed and farmers are being forced to the wall as a result of the government’s announcement to shut down the live sheep export industry.
“Agriculture Minister Murray Watt didn’t have the courage to travel with an independent export phase out panel and look farmers in the eye himself to say he was stopping the trade – so the least he can do is provide details of his so-called scientific evidence. However, we now know he won’t release this evidence, or modelling, because it simply doesn’t exist.”
Mr Littleproud added Minister Watt was yet to release the findings of an Independent Panel Report into the ban of live sheep exports.
“Minister Watt made decisions without being given proper modelling or details about the impact of banning live sheep exports. This is an industry that has already lost confidence in the Minister, because he has turned his back on the live sheep industry.
“A future Coalition government with The Nationals will ensure the live sheep export trade is saved. Unlike Labor, The Nationals support Australian farmers and their exports.”