DEPUTY Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the live-export industry has a future and is a viable industry yesterday (6 August) during a radio interview on 6PR in Perth.
Mr McCormack backed the farmers that grow the animals that are exported, saying they are very concerned with animal welfare.
“Why should farmers take the fall for the alleged actions of some exporters who’ve done the wrong thing, and they’ve placed that industry in jeopardy, but why should farmers take the fall for that?” he asked.
“These farmers, they put the animal welfare front and centre of everything that they do in their farming practices but we need to make sure this is a viable industry going forward. We’ll do everything that we can as a federal government. Of course it’s up to the exporters now too, as well, could do the right thing.”
When asked if the live-export industry could be revived, Mr McCormack said it was a viable industry and could be revived.
“The Middle East wants our sheep,” he said.
“Understanding that the northern summer trade isn’t as large as the rest of the year, I appreciate that, and I appreciate that there’s probably not the margins there at this time for the exporters, but the fact is we need a sustainable industry going forward.”
The alleged actions of some of the exporters, Mr McCormack said, should not hinder the industry.
“[Australian farmers] want our animals to get to the Middle East as healthy as they can be,” he said.
“At the end of the day, 99.7% of the sheep which are being exported are getting off the ships in good shape.”
Mr McCormack said there were also opportunities in other export markets, pointing to the free-trade agreements brokered with South Korea, China and Japan.
“We’re certainly putting a lot of meat into those areas,” he said.
“We’re opening up a goat abattoir, I know, out of Bourke in New South Wales. Goat’s probably one of the biggest meat used right around the world.
“… And of course, we want Australia to have the very best meat-exporting arrangements – whether it’s processed in chilled boxes or whether it’s indeed live.”