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Nationals leader David Littleproud’s blunt message to East Coast politicians after live sheep trade call

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Nationals leader David Littleproud said the Prime Minister left farmers with "confusion and uncertainty" with the phasing out of the live export industry.
Nationals leader David Littleproud said the Prime Minister left farmers with "confusion and uncertainty" with the phasing out of the live export industry. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

Nationals leader David Littleproud is blaming ideologically motivated politicians for the shutting down of the live sheep export trade – a decision he warns will cause the “needless” deaths of millions of animals.

Mr Littleproud has reaffirmed the Coalition’s promise to reverse Labor’s decision if it returns to power, positioning live sheep as a battleground issue in WA at the next national poll.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is facing a huge backlash from farmers and the State and Federal oppositions after announcing plans to legislate a May 1, 2028 end date for live sheep exports by sea.

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Senator Watt’s announcement of a $107 million transition package appears to have done little to quell the anger – with even WA’s Labor Premier Roger Cook describing the support as inadequate.

The Federal Government argues the trade is in terminal decline, pointing to a fall in the value of exports from $415 million in 2002-2003 to $77 million in 2023.

But Mr Littleproud said Labor’s decision was purely ideological, insisting there was no reason to shutter the industry.

“East coast politicians just need to wake up to themselves and understand Western Australia is better than anyone else in the world (at live sheep exports) and we should get the hell out of their life,” Mr Littleproud told 6PR radio.

Mr Littleproud said shutting down the trade in Australia would result in the deaths of “millions” of sheep at sea because other markets would turn to export countries with poorer animal welfare standards, such as Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa.

“You are going to see the senseless deaths of millions of sheep from other countries in a barbaric way compared to how Australia is doing it,” he said.

Mr Littleproud again warned that countries such as Kuwait – the largest importer of live sheep from Australia – would not accept processed meat without live sheep.

The value of live sheep exports by sea to Kuwait was $35 million in 2022-23.

Nationals leader David Littleproud and deputy leader of the Nationals WA Peter Rundle. Daniel Rooney
Nationals leader David Littleproud and deputy leader of the Nationals WA Peter Rundle. Daniel Rooney Credit: Daniel Rooney/RegionalHUB

Senator Watt said Mr Littleproud was the one out of touch, pointing to an RSPCA poll that showed 70 per cent of people in WA supported the phase-out.

He said the decision was designed to set up the sheep industry to capitalise on the growing demand for processed meat.

“We’ve seen over the last 20 years, the number of live sheep exported from Australia, particularly WA has plummeted by about 90 per cent and at the same time, we’ve seen a growth in demand for sheep, meat, lamb, and other other commodities as well is going through the roof,” he told 6PR.

“And I want to make sure that WA gets its fair share of that growth market and all the jobs that can come with it.”

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