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Opening statement to HoR Inquiry into Export Control Amendment (Ending Live Sheep Exports by Sea) Bill 2024

While not intending any disrespect to this committee’s members, and the time they are committing for this inquiry, Minister Watt committed to a Senate Inquiry with hearings in WA during a Senate Estimates hearing on 30 May, only to backflip less than a week later and assign the task to a House of Representative committee instead.

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.

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.

We will hear all the usual false arguments that this is a declining trade, that its lost community support, that the industry should feel grateful for the “generous” assistance package being offered and that everyone should feel wonderful about the rosy future that the WA sheep industry has.

I’ve even had Labor MPs say to me that we have done the wrong thing morally by fighting the policy. Yet we are not the ones harming farmers – this government is.

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 agricultural industry has been mobilised in a manner that I have never seen before and make no mistake – this inquiry will not be the end of it.

The only people outside of the Albanese Government that think this policy is a good idea are animal activists – is this who you take your writing instructions from?

However, believe it or not, we still hold a glimmer of faith in the parliamentary process.

Are you, the Labor members of this committee, going to simply do what everyone is expecting and act like political apparatchiks that toe the party line no matter what, or will you take your responsibility as elected representatives seriously and examine this harmful legislation.

This a “Government for all Australians,” the Prime Minister says.

Is it really? Is it really a government for those poor farmers that are having their livelihood devastated?

While we’re here to answer questions, the most important questions of this inquiry won’t be answered by us.

Thank you.



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