Liberal leader Liza Harvey has called for more State Government support for the live export trade, saying the industry could become a “linchpin” for WA’s economy.
Speaking in the Great Southern last Wednesday, Ms Harvey said the McGowan Government should be championing “good operators of the trade”, helping exporters break into new markets and eliminating rogue operators.
“Resources, commodities are very volatile, but people always need food … so if we can be a reliable source of protein for the various countries that need meat, then we need to build on that and ensure that we have a secure supply and practices that are acceptable to the WA community,” she said.
“This is a steady long-term supply, we’re talking about good linchpin of the economy if we get this right.”
Ms Harvey said responsibility fell on the industry to ensure that exported Australian animals were being treated humanely in oversea abattoirs, but said her Liberal government would do more to support exporters if elected in 2021.
Her comments came on the same day as vision emerged of a WA live export being killed without being stunned in an Indonesian carpark.
Ms Harvey drew parallels between the State Government’s efforts to expand WA’s tourism market — worth $12.9 billion in the 2017-18 financial year — and stalemates the live sheep export industry faced breaking into new markets, after the industry shrunk by 35 per cent in 2018 to $158 million.
“The State Government has basically said, ‘you need to prove yourself to us or we’re going to end this trade’ … that’s not helpful,” she said.
“The State Government, they’re flying around the world trying to secure non-stop flights into Perth from Japan, China and other places.
“Fly to Saudi Arabia and talk to them about what we would need to have in place to supply our meat, our sheep into their market and work out an animal husbandry training program to ensure we can, in good faith, supply and ensure that the animals are stunned before they’re slaughtered.”
But Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan questioned the WA Liberal Party’s knowledge of the agriculture industry, pointing out that flights to Tokyo had direct benefits for WA sheep producers.
She said such flights were boosting industry resilience.
“The WA Liberals are failing to grasp the basics of the agriculture industry,” she said.
“Ms Harvey criticises our government efforts in securing direct flights from Japan, ignoring that every direct flight returns to Tokyo with a cargo hold full of chilled West Australian sheep and beef meat, as well as fresh produce.”