Farmers from the West heading to Canberra with a personal plea

01 September 2023

Farmers and representatives from across the West are packing their bags and heading to Canberra on September 5 to speak directly to politicians about the Government’s proposed phase-out of live sheep exports.

The delegation of eight people from Western Australia includes representatives from Sheep Producers Australia, WAFarmers, WoolProducers Australia, the Western Australian Shearing Industry Association, and the WA Livestock & Rural Transport Association. Darren Spencer runs his own shearing business about 450km from Perth in Lake King and says the group wants to share with politicians in person what’s at stake if the Government pushes ahead with the phase-out.

“We want to make sure politicians from across Australia understand that when they talk about phasing out live sheep exports, they risk phasing out whole towns,” he said. “The live sheep export industry is concentrated in Western Australia and employs farmers, shearers, truck drivers, and livestock agents – which means it supports families, small schools - entire communities, and the towns they live in. Phasing out live export really will phase out whole towns.” Australia’s live export industry is worth some $1.3 billion and generates around 10,000 jobs, many in remote areas.

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The Albanese Government has committed to phasing out live exports of sheep by sea. An independent panel has been appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt to consult with all those involved. The panel is expected to provide its report to the Government by September 30, 2023.

The phase-out does not apply to other industries such as live cattle exports. Ben Sutherland, owner of a rural livestock transport business called 5k Livestock and Bulk echoed Darren Spencer’s comments about the phase-out. “This won’t just affect farmers - it’s something that will be felt across the community,” he said. “We help with activities like hauling equipment for local schools and their sports activities - and we give a strong hand with donations and the like for the local footy club.

We won’t be able to keep doing things like that if this phase-out is supported.“Right now, it’s a busy time of year and our business is supporting five employees, so it’s a big thing to head over to Canberra, but we want to look politicians in the eye and help them understand what this phase-out will do to our families, our kids – and the Australian economy.”

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The group heading to Canberra is set to present their argument to politicians from all sides on September 5 at Parliament House. They are hoping to speak with Minister Watt in person.

The West Australian delegation includes Geoff Pearson from WAFarmers, Steve McGuire representing West Australian wool producers, Corrigin sheep farmer Steven Bolt, Western Australian Shearing Industry Association representative Darren Spencer, and Ben Sutherland from the WA Livestock and Rural Transport Association.