Snap inquiry into live sheep ban heads to WA

Emotions are again expected to run high at the second and final day of hearings in a snap inquiry into the legislation to phase out live sheep export ships by 2028.

The first hearing was held in Canberra on June 12, with the final gathering in Muresk, WA, on Friday, June 14.

Impacted parties, including hundreds of trucking operators in WA now facing an uncertain future, were given just a week to make their submissions.

“For farmers, contractors and other people in these WA communities who make long term decisions about their businesses to only be given a week to tell their stories is shameful,” said Mark Harvey-Sutton, CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council (ALEC).

Agriculture minister Murray Watt also appears to have backflipped on his promise to hold a Senate inquiry and instead assign the task to a House of Representatives committee, added Harvey-Sutton.

“He is now walking back from that promise to the safety of the government’s majority in the House of Reps,” Harvey-Sutton said.

“It seems ironic that the minister can insist that he is keeping his promise to ban live sheep but can’t keep his promise to have a senate inquiry.”

In its opening statement the inquiry, ALEC said: “We consider this a ruse to circumvent Senate crossbench scrutiny, and to be a way for the minister to say he has made good on his statements that he has called an inquiry and held a hearing in WA in a manner the Albanese government has the capacity to control more tightly.

“In short, we expect this hearing to be a complete waste of everyone’s time and a recommendation to pass the legislation from this committee is a fait accompli.”

“If the ban is such a good idea, why has it been rejected by every agricultural group in Australia, more importantly rejected by the WA Government and why are WA farmers convoying the streets of Perth?

Are you seriously going tell us that all those people have it wrong? Does this government seriously think it knows better than the hard-working professionals in the Australian ag sector. Will you sit here and be that arrogant?”

The Keep the Sheep campaign, a grassroots protest movement with transport operator Ben Sutherland at the helm, is calling on all supporters to attend the Muresk hearing to show the government they are not going to go away without a fight.

Keep the Sheep now has more than 50,000 signatures on its protest petition.

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