The Department of Agriculture has said that there won’t be any reactionary moves prompted by the deaths of thousands of sheep who were transported to the Middle East via live export. Despite this reassurance, there are concerns within the agricultural industry that their trade will be damaged.
These new remarks follow the sharing of damning live export footage that shows sheep dying en-masse of heat stress during travel to the Middle East. David Littleproud, the Federal Agricultural Minister said that he was “gutted” from viewing the footage and gave a warning to those exporters that did the wrong thing by the animals they transport, saying that they would “get nailed”.
This response from Mr Littleproud has led to the rise of some concern in the agricultural industry that this incident would potentially damage the profession. An Australia sheep farmer, Peter Boyle, said that it would take “astute judgement” by Mr Littleproud and others and warned that the last ban of live exports had crippled the sheep industry around Australia.
As a sheep farmer who sells hive livestock to exporters, Mr Boyle expressed his concern regarding the deaths of sheep during their travel. He said that he was aware of issues like this “for some time” and that he was informed there was footage that would shock “every sheep producer” in the country.
Mr Boyle went on to express that he had not seen the footage or the report from the Agricultural Department that proved the deaths of approximately 2,400 sheep from heat stress during live export. Despite this, he is concerned that the outrage from the footage will cause reactionary regulation of the industry.
He went on to explain that there was already a lot of bureaucracy surrounding the industry and that new assurance systems have cost him a significant amount of money per sheep he exports.
Mr Littleproud has responded to concerns from the industry buy saying the he fully supported the farmers and exporting partners who followed the rules. He also said that he was not going to hesitate in calling out and to “take strong action” against farmer or exporters who have “not fulfilled their responsibilities”.
He said that it was important to work towards creating an industry in which “whistle-blowers”, “groups” and “individuals” could comfortably come forward and “nail” people who are breaking protocol.
Joel Fitzgibbon, the shadow agriculture minister, said that he was impressed by Mr Littleproud’s handling of the incident, saying that it was better than what his predecessor Barnaby Joyce would have done.