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Government’s sheep ban panel used as “human shields” for deeply unpopular policy

Today at Beef Australia in Rockhampton where the Government’s Phase Out of Live Sheep by Sea panel member Sue Middleton, was speaking at the Cattle Australia breakfast, ALEC CEO said the comments about the Government’s live sheep ban policy were enlightening.

CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said that the Government should reconsider the policy when it was clear the impacts were reverberating through the entire agricultural sector and that the panel members had heard the real impacts that would be faced by Western Australian farmers.

“When Sue Middleton spoke about the devastation this would cause farmers, it showed the deep emotion that they felt and that panel members were thrown in the midst of.”

“Ms Middleton spoke of farmers facing oversupply of sheep, challenges with feed and water and a hotter than usual summer. Then to add to the confluence of issues, they had the Government pour petrol on the flames with a regulatory impost on top, causing an immediate collapse in confidence,” he said.

“The audience was reminded here today that the panel was given an impossible task: to treat all interests as equal when they aren’t, because some people stand to lose everything.”

It was also illuminating when Ms Middleton spoke about the motivations behind the policy. “She stated that, “there is no doubt there were political deals in the background” that prompted the policy being enacted, despite the industry reforms and regulations that had taken place.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said that while the panel has fronted up to farmers, in town halls online and at Beef Australia today, the Government was nowhere to be seen.

“It’s disappointing that the Government won’t come clean with farmers that it intends to put out of business. Farmers aren’t calling for anything other than to let their industry, which is reformed and sustainable, continue feeding the world. Why won’t the Government give them a fair go?”

“As part of her presentation, Sue said, “I’ve learned [through this process] how deeply respected farmers are.”

“We know the Australian public respects and supports our farmers. The question is now, does the Government?,” said Mr Harvey-Sutton.


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